Using Media to Monitor, Measure & Mentor Children

Digital Portfolio Assessments Help Teachers Help Children Learn

Posted Oct 23, 2014

Luskin's Learning Psychology Series - No. 13

Media Mentor

This week, I interviewed Bonnie Baruch, Director of the Moorpark College Child Development Center (CDC) in California and visited her Child Care Center. It is a showplace, using media in student learning among its many unique approaches. The program recently integrated new technology into its assessment strategy to help in teaching children;...a strategy worth knowing about.

Baruch asserts that “the addition of technology in an early childhood classroom serves many purposes and improvements. For example, mobile devices provide the ability to gather and record information that has the potential to change the way we teach and assess students of all ages. Technology can help in expanding current testing practices into a more open-ended, child-driven, and sophisticated method of assessing and communicating learning,” said Baruch. “Authentic, meaningful, descriptive and ongoing documentation through digital portfolios is beneficial for the future of early childhood education and assessments of young children and is increasingly the center and core from which we can draw. It is good to work from a knowledge base,” she added.

To be effective, early childhood assessments and evaluations must be authentic, meaningful, descriptive and ongoing.

Young children often demonstrate the development of new skills with daily mastery in small increments. Therefore, performing a “test” or assessment on one particular day, will not be an accurate evaluation of a child’s abilities. Rather, compiling a portfolio of evidence over time is a more accurate and reliable means of assessment for young children.

The Portfolio Gives the Full Picture

Portfolio based evidence is described as an on-going collection of a child’s work, documentation, observable skill appraisals and language samples over time. This method of assessment is recommended as the most appropriate and thorough means of early childhood evaluations. At Moorpark College Child Development Center, an NAEYC Accredited laboratory preschool center for children, authentic assessments of the children are performed and recorded daily. By observing and documenting children over time we are able to record accurate and appropriate work samples in individual child portfolios.

The National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC) offers guidelines for appropriate assessment in the publication: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children From Birth Through Age Eight. It states: “Accurate testing can only be achieved with reliable, valid instruments and such instruments developed for use with young children are extremely rare. In the absence of valid instruments, testing is not valuable. Therefore, assessment of young children should rely heavily on the results of observations and descriptive data.” (Bredekamp, pp. 12-13)

Adding technology as a tool in capturing daily experiences in a classroom enhances documentation capabilities, extends learning opportunities, and offers concrete evidence of developmental progress.

Recently, Moorpark College CDC transitioned from creating a notebook-style portfolio to incorporating technology and creating digital portfolios. Teachers were provided with an iPad and access to online software from School Chapters, a technology company specializing in digital portfolio assessments. “Early childhood educators know that observation is a valuable tool. They observe to help better understand children’s interests and needs. Our Early Childhood solutions help teachers organize their documentation and photos about each child, so they can easily share them with parents…. Teachers can easily add supporting evidence to each assessment, and generate a downloadable portfolio and rating record for each child,” Bonnie explained.

The use of the iPad as technology in the classroom provides for real time evidence to be uploaded directly into a child’s individual portfolio.

Digitizing each child’s individual portfolio encapsulates technology into the classroom on a daily basis creating a tracking system so improvements can be identified. The teachers are now able to take pictures and document quotations or observations in real time. Additionally, the children are also actively participatory in creating their portfolio books.

The digital portfolio is also an asset during parent teacher conferences. Parents are often inquiring about their child’s developmental and academic growth and future abilities. Sharing pictures, videos, authentic and accurate evaluations via the digital portfolio helps to articulate the child’s skills and capabilities. The phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is exemplified in a parent conference using the digital portfolio, as parents are able to see mastery of skills and learning on an ongoing basis.

In summary, the addition of technology in an early childhood classroom serves many purposes and adds a valid basis for improvements. Mobile devices and the documentation that they enable have the potential to change the way we assess students of all ages, expanding current testing practices into a more open-ended, child-driven, and sophisticated method of assessing and communicating learning.” Digital Portfolio Assessment is a technology in teaching tool, and another example of the progress being made through “the media psychology effect.”

The Moorpark College Child Development Center is a leader in child development programs and a signature program of Moorpark College.

References and notes:

The Moorpark College Child Care Center is accredited by the National Association of Education for Young Children. The Moorpark College CDC serves as a laboratory preschool environment for college students seeking their CD certificates, permits, AA and BA degree.

(Parnell and Bartlett; iDocument NAEYC Young Children Journal, May, 2012)

Co-Authors:

Bonnie Baruch, Director of the Moorpark College CDC has her Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Bonnie has been an adjunct instructor at the Community College level for fifteen years, and is now acting as the full time site supervisor of the accredited program at Moorpark College.

Dr. Bernard Luskin, LMFT, is President of Moorpark College and President of the Society for Media Psychology and Technology, Division 46, American Psychological Association. He is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist and School Psychologist.

Special thanks to: Andrea Rambo and Toni Luskin, PhD, for their editorial and technical assistance.

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