In mid-October, fall colors abounded on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan. And there were lots of Constructivist educators – students, classroom teachers, administrators, higher education faculty and administrators, researchers – in all grade levels traveling from all over the US to enjoy action-research presentations in various topics at the annual conference of the Association of Constructivist Teaching (ACT).
ACT is “… a professional organization promoting children’s construction of knowledge in all domains – intellectual, physical, social, emotional and moral.” One of the presenters at the conference this year was me and a former student, concerning the topic of e-portfolios.
As soon as I arrived at VU in 2015, utilizing my prior experience, I wanted to use e-portfolios in order to increase retention and graduation rate in VU BA in ECE program. During the designing process, I looked at the BA in ECE program as a whole and made several curriculum changes: I determined required and elective major courses, created key assessments for the e-portfolios, extensively revised the ECED 100 Cornerstone and ECED 499 Capstone courses, and developed an e-portfolio handbook. In May 2019, I attended a webinar hosted by IFD concerning e-portfolios: AACU ePortfolio Research and Practice. The webinar positively affirmed the practices and principals I used to design and implement e-portfolios. This motivated me to do more research and present about VU EC E-Portfolio at the ACT conference.
This year, I had the great pleasure of sharing a paper-presentation with a former VU Early Childhood Education student, Kaila Payne, who is a special education educator in a public school in Hutto, Texas. She graduated with her BA in Early Childhood Education in Spring 2019 and is in a graduate program at Concordia University.
Our presentation, E-portfolios and the Principles & Practices of Constructivism, addressed how principles and practices of Constructivism are considered in designing and implementing e-portfolios for a 100% online BA program as a Capstone project, how building e-portfolios facilitate students constructing their own knowledge, and how e-portfolios are used for employment as a living document.
I asked her to joint present to share the perspective of a student and to share her portfolio, which is exceptionally excellent. I mentored her throughout the presentation preparation, which was fun and highly appreciated by Kaila:
“I was very excited to join Dr. Seon because I had never been to a professional conference and I was looking forward to the opportunity to share my portfolio. I had put a lot of work into my portfolio and I was very proud of the product.”
Another privilege and joy I had at the conference was introducing the professional world to Kaila. My mentors did this for me, and I was happy to give Kaila the same opportunity, especially since Kaila has been looking for a doctoral program. Kaila wrote:
“While at the conference, I had such a wonderful time. Dr. Seon knew many people there and was very hospitable as she introduced me to other professionals and professors. She advocated for me, sharing with others that I was considering a doctoral degree, which sparked many great conversations. I left with a list of emails of wonderful professionals that have said I am welcome to contact them any time with my thoughts and questions.”
Our presentation was highly appreciated by audiences who are administrators at higher education institutions. This feedback motivates me to submit this presentation proposal to administrator-orientation conferences such as AAUA and NAECTE.