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Using ePortfolio in a virtual work placement unit to enhance learning outcomes - a reflection of the changing nature of student engagement with higher education

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Associate Professor Tina Cockburn & Associate Professor Melinda Shirley

Associate Professor Tina Cockburn & Associate Professor Melinda Shirley

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  • 1. Using ePortfolio in a virtual work placement unit to enhance learning outcomes – a reflection of the changing nature of student engagement with higher education. Associate Professor Tina Cockburn Associate Professor Melinda Shirley Faculty of Law Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
  • 2. Virtual Law Placement
    • Higher Education Landscape
    • Pedagogy & Design
    • Embedding ePortfolio
    • Evaluation data
    • Where to from here?
  • 3. Higher Education Landscape
  • 4. The need to produce work ready graduates
    • Australian higher education sector under growing pressure from government, industry and the community to demonstrate ability to respond to skill shortages, the requirements of a professionalised workforce and the demand for work-ready graduates
      • AC Neilsen Research Services, 2000; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004.
    • Universities are required to show how theory and practice combine in undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to generate graduates who are work-ready.
          • Bradley, Noonan, Nugent, & Scales, 2008, p. 2; cited in The WIL Report p3
    • Legal education should be more concerned with “what lawyers need to be able to do” cf. traditional Australian approach centred around “what lawyers need to know”.
          • Australian Law Reform Commission Review of the Federal Civil Justice System, ALRC DP 62, August 1999
  • 5. The role of work integrated learning
    • Work integrated learning (WIL) is generally accepted as a powerful vehicle for developing generic or professional skills and provides students with the opportunity to improve their employability and work readiness.
          • Harvey, Geall,& Moon, 1998; Knight, 2007; cited in the WIL Report p13
    • WIL – umbrella term for a range of approaches and strategies that integrate theory with the practice of work within a purposefully designed curriculum
          • Patrick CJ, Peach D, Pocknee C, Webb F, Fletcher M, Pretto G (2008, December) The WIL [Work Integrated Learning] Report: a national scoping study [Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ATLC) Final Report]. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology. Available online at: www.altc.edu.au and www. Acen.edu.au, p9
      • definitions and conceptual models - Dewey, 1938; Kolb, 1984; Biggs, 1999; Boud, 2001; Dressler & Keeling, 2004; Groenewald, 2005.
  • 6. Student data
    • Changing nature of student engagement in higher education
      • McInnis & Hartley 2002; Anderson 2006; Patrick et al 2008
    • Ensuring equity and access to authentic WIL experiences for all law students
      • large number of QUT law students (approx 2500 students, including 650 external students)
      • limited physical placements and competition (undergraduates from other Universities and post graduate Legal Practice students)
        • Virtual model of WIL overcomes barriers posed by distance, visa restrictions, family responsibilities and financial hardship and broadens the range of employment opportunities to a global market.
  • 7. Underlying Pedagogy and Design
  • 8. Authenticity
    • Collaboration with community partners to incorporate the use of authentic web technologies into the learning experience
      • blackboard, video, skype, discussion forums, ePortfolio, online chat, email and SharePoint
    • New Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are transforming the practices of both universities and workplaces which deserves recognition in the design of an authentic work-integrated learning experience
  • 9. Learning Preferences
    • Generation Y’s exposure to information technology media during their formative years has led to a shift in learning preferences as compared with past student generations (Frand, 2000, Oblinger, 2003)
      • Virtual dimension enables both task based learning and effective second level analysis and collaborative reflection on the learning experience (Arnold, 2008).
      • Learners engage with their supervisors, teachers and teams in an online environment sharing their expectations, preconceptions and experiences.
  • 10. Reflection
    • Importance of ensuring that assessment methods used in WIL programs encourage reflection and integration of theory and practice
          • Jorgensen D and Howard P (2005) “Assessment for Practice Oriented Education, Rockhampton, Qld: James Goldson Faculty of engineering and Physical Systems, Central Queensland University, p1
    • Potential for ePortfolio to help students become reflective learners who are conscious of their personal and professional strengths and weaknesses, as well as to make their existing and developing skills more explicit.
          • Hallam G, Harper W, McCowan C. Hauville K, McAllister L and Creagh T, Australian eportfolio project: eportfolio use by university students in Australia: informing excellence in policy and practice, final project report August 2008 Executive Summary, pii
    • By reflecting on their own learning and achievement, learners are encouraged to plan for their personal, academic and career development
          • Australian eportfolio project Final Report, Executive Summary, Recommendation 6 p.v
  • 11.
    • Virtual paradigm enables both synchronous and asynchronous communication between teams and workplace supervisors to enable:
      • flexibility
      • greater level of reflection
        • enables learners to express and adapt their understandings and value systems as a result of their personal learning experiences (Arnold, 2008).
  • 12. Embedding ePortfolio into a virtual work placement unit
  • 13. The Virtual Law Placement
    • Under the guidance of a real life workplace supervisor, students apply legal knowledge and skills to complete an authentic real world workplace project in a team using online communication technologies to enable students to be virtually, rather than physically present at the workplace.
    • Enables law students to access an unprecedented range of law graduate destination workplaces and projects, including international and social justice placements, absent the constraints traditionally associated with arranging physical placements.
  • 14. Unit content
    • The substantive law content of the unit will depend on your virtual workplace and the project allocated by your workplace supervisor.
      •   The unit consists of the following components:
        • Application for the placement
        • Preparation for the placement;
        • Completion of a workplace project in a team; and
        • Reflection upon your learning during and after the placement.
  • 15.  
  • 16. ePortfolio Resources
    • Links to QUT ePortfolio resources
      • Using the Student ePortfolio – Module
        • This resource is part of a new suite of Career Development courses and associated modules. This module will assist you to produce digital stories and artefacts which reflect skills and achievements gained during work placement. It is self-paced and provides you with a completion quiz to check your understanding.
        • U se the link provided below to begin working through the module, Using the student ePortfolio . You should complete this module as soon as possible and in any event at least during week 8 prior to writing up your first ePortfolio entry, taking into account feedback from your workplace supervisor on your project outline and interim project report, as you enter into the final phases of working on your workplace project.
        • Upon completion of this module you will receive a certificate of completion which you are required to submit with your assessable Student e-Portfolio entries.
  • 17. Using online discussion forum to practice reflective writing and learn from others
    • During week eight please share a brief reflection on your work in this unit so far.
      • For example, you may wish to address one or more of the following matters: i) Reflection on an incident: Describe an incident/event/activity/opportunity/challenge/issue/research question/legal social or policy issue etc which has occurred during your placement. How did you feel about this? How did you resolve the issue? What skills/resources did you draw on? What new skills did you develop? What would you do differently next time?
    • This post will enable you to practice your reflective writing skills - you may wish to refine your post and submit as your eportfolio entry or alternatively you may wish to post an edited version of your ePortfolio submission for this post.  
  • 18. ePortfolio Assessment
    • Three eportfolio entries
      • Entry 1 formative (end week 8)
      • Entries 2&3 (end swotvac) 20%
    • Pass/fail assessment
  • 19. Assessment criteria
    • Reflection
      • 4Rs of Reflective Writing
        • Reporting and responding
        • Relating
        • Reasoning
        • Reconstructing
      • Bain, J., Ballantyne, R., Packer, J., and Mills, C. (1999). Using journal writing to enhance student teachers’ reflectivity during field experience placements. Teachers and Teaching, 5(1), 51-73.
      • Carrington, S. and Selva, G. (2010). Critical social theory and transformative learning: evidence in pre-service teachers' service-learning reflection logs. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(1), 45-57.
    • Presentation in ePortfolio
  • 20. Reflection upon experience
    • Satisfactory evidence of knowledge and understanding of prescribed online resources relating to reflective practice and satisfactory application of these principles to your ePortfolio submission. You have satisfactorily reflected on your experience and your reflection is satisfactorily linked to your experience. 4 Rs of Reflective Writing:
      • a) Reporting and Responding: Satisfactory identification, description and analysis of key aspects of an incident or experience during your studies in this unit and/or while working on your workplace project in your team. What happened or what was the issue or incident involved? Why is it relevant? Respond to this incident or issue by making observations, expressing your opinion or asking questions.
      • b) Relating: Satisfactory attempt at relating or making a connection between the incident or issue and your own skills, professional experience or discipline knowledge. Have you seen this before? Were the conditions the same or different? Do you have the skills and knowledge to deal with this?
      • c) Reasoning: Satisfactorily highlighting in detail significant factors underlying the incident or issue. Show why they are important to an understanding of the incident or issue. Refer to relevant theory and literature to support your reasoning. Consider different perspectives.
      • d ) Reconstructing: Reframe or reconstruct future practice or professional understanding. How would I deal with this next time? What might work and why? Are there different options? What might happen if...? Are my ideas supported by theory? Evidence of planning for future actions.
  • 21. Presentation in ePortfolio
    • The structure of your ePortfolio entry satisfactorily complies with requirements of form, including maximum word/character length.
    • ePortfolio entry shows that you have read and considered the online resources relating to ePortfolio. A copy of the certificate showing that you have completed the Using the ePorfolio online module is included with your submission of ePortfolio entries for assessment.
    • Your ePortfolio entry is satisfactorily presented and sufficiently professional.
    • Your description and reflection on your experience is sufficiently coherent.
    • Written communication skills are of a satisfactory standard, though mistakes in spelling, grammar or use of language indicate lack of thorough proofreading.
  • 22. Unit evaluation data: lessons learnt
  • 23. Evaluation Methods
    • University wide LEX unit survey & analysis of written comments
    • Unit specific survey instruments administered online on LWB422 Blackboard site
      • unit administration, content, structure, assessment
      • ICT including Blackboard, Sharepoint and other technologies
    • Emerging themes from student reflections on online discussion forums
    • Direct student feedback during semester
      • Student emails
      • Discussions with supervisors
      • Discussions with unit coordinator
    • Feedback from workplace supervisors
    • Student Focus Groups
  • 24. Lessons learnt
    • Teaching & learning support
      • Unit materials
        • Online instructions & guidelines
        • Explain nature, purpose and relevance of reflection
          • Fostering life long learning, developing critical thinking, drawing on evidence to plan for the future and improve future practice
      • Online ePortfolio resources
        • Tip sheets and handbooks
        • Online eportfolio module
        • Despite digital native status, students need specific ICT training and support
          • early planning, access testing, resources, training for all participants, dedicated IT support
  • 25. Lessons learnt cont...
      • Moving students from describing experiences to deep, critical reflection
        • Critical thinking and reflection must be scaffolded explicitly through pedagogy
        • Focus on documenting development of relevant employability skills rather than describing specific tasks
        • Encourage use of frameworks eg 4Rs framework for more structured approach to reflection
        • Provide exemplars of e-portfolio entries
          • ALTC Grant: Developing a systematic cross faculty approach to teaching & assessing reflective writing in higher education (Mary Ryan, M Ryan, S Carrington, N Bahr, M Shirley, T Cockburn, R Nash, I Larkin, C Collis)
            • QUT: education, law, creative industries, health
  • 26. Lessons learnt cont...
      • Assessing reflection
        • Detailed criteria sheets
          • More explicitly link to 4Rs framework for reflection to provide structure for reflections and highlight importance of developing skills
        • Importance of formative ePortfolio entry and feedback from ePortfolio team prior to submission of the assessable entries
          • Technical support
          • Reflective writing skills
  • 27. Student Comment
      • “ The Flexible learning environment …suits my learning style and fits very well with my “multitude” of other responsibilities. The Assessment (with the obvious absence of high stress “formal exams”) was also more suited to allow for my capabilities to be more accurately measured. The opportunity to learn relevant new contemporary skills (ePortfolio) and access to materials (eTutorials) designed to solidify levels of existing knowledge and identify new areas for later exploration (online collaboration), all in one workspace…I believe to have been previously unequalled in my studies to date.”
  • 28. Student comment:
    • The most significant lesson I learnt this semester in this unit was learning to be more aware of my approaches to certain areas of work, allowing me to evaluate and develop better methods. I say this because for the area of law I was researching, given its novelty and the differing issues it involved, initially I found my usual research methods (for usual law assignments) to be inefficient and thus I had to examine different kinds of sources until I found the right method for the task.
  • 29. Student Comment:
    • Advice for future students:
    • “ Consider the whole way through what you are getting out of the project – like any work experience, this should be able to get put on your resume and work for you, so the more reflective you are throughout the more you will achieve from the project.”
  • 30. Challenges for the future
    • Increase placement opportunities and student participation
      • Subsequent years
        • Retention of existing workplace supervisors with increased capacity
        • Incremental inclusion and training of new workplaces and supervisors representing diverse law graduate destinations, including international and social justice placements
    • Retention of experienced academic staff and building teaching team (recruitment and training of additional academic staff team members, including sessional staff)
    • Marketing of opportunity to students to increase enrolments
    • Marketing to profession and industry to increase workplace supervisor pool
    • Resource and academic staff workload considerations
  • 31. Concluding Comment
    • “ Legal educators must be prepared and able to educate tomorrow’s lawyers who will work in law offices which will operate in a dramatically different environment than that which exists in the majority of today’s organisations … Australian legal education should showcase technology, train students and professionals in the use of technology and promote  multi-disciplinary research on how technology and the law fit together from a social and legal perspective.”
    • Macrae, M. 2001. Academic leader calls for action. E.Law Practice (8):21-24, interview with Eugene Clark
  • 32. Feedback and comments welcome:
    • Melinda Shirley
    • Tina Cockburn
    • Queensland University of Technology
    • Email:
    • [email_address]
    • [email_address]