The data collection section has two parts; students make observations about in-class or out of class activities and select samples of their work that demonstrate their development. The observations are similar to journal entries except that students only record what they see, hear, or read that relates to the class. Observations are only limited to what is observed; interpretations or opinions should not be included. The observations are brief, but allow students to reflect on the class and on the relationship between observation/perception and interpretation, for students must distinguish between them when thinking about and writing their observations. In fact, as Dr. Syverson describes in "Uses of the LRO," the observations can only be positive, which confronts students with "the powerful role of language in shaping perceptions of reality."
The work samples allow students to reflect on their work and progress and to select their evidence (their work) that best matches the established course standards (course objectives, evaluation criteria) and best represents their development; thus, students have to make informed judgments concerning their selections.
Professor Martin was talking about
a student who had written a well thought out paper. Kelly used the term
"reactionary paper" to describe this response paper and caused
a brief disruption in my thought processes as I had to translate from
one term to another and synonymize them. This wouldn't be unusual except
it brought back to me a memory about a "Star Trek" episode
where the crew of Deep Space 9 had contracted a mind neuron disrupting
virus that caused them to say words other from what they meant. Then
Professor Martin's comment of "reactionary paper being same thing
as response paper" caused my brief exodus from reality to end as
I was guided back to reality and to the lecture at hand.
Here are some of this student's work samples. He chose to upload his work rather than paste his work directly into the LRO; thus, (because of space) I have not included his actual work samples (his actual papers), but you can get the idea of how students can view their work. As seen in the last work sample, students who upload their work can still enter notes and comments to the instructor.
Date Observed: 02/21/2002
Because the work sample section is not very different from other portfolio models, I will mainly focus on the observations.
This student is particularly witty, sarcastic, and clever; thus, his observations are such. While many of them are not extremely personal and serious, they do reveal the connections in his learning. For example, the first observation reveals the student's awareness of his growth and change in perspective as he continues his education. This observation also serves as an example of a typical observation in that the observations foster connections because students are not merely reporting or recording their activities but critically thinking about them as they distinguish between interpretations/opinions and their observations; in doing so, students are forced to confront their thoughts and observations as they write about how their learning and processes take shape. The second observation is an excellent example of such consciousness; although the connection (to Star Trek) the student makes in this observation seems silly, it is quite powerful and perceptive. Here, this student recognizes the powerful roles of language and writing, as they force us to translate and reflect on our own conceptions when we hear, read, or write about the unfamiliar. In this case, although the connection revolves around Star Trek, the observation is very powerful as the student recognizes and reflects on the "brief disruption in [his] thought processes."
In the last two observations, the student's thoughts continue to "branch off" (quotation from the third observation), as he continues to explore his options in writing. Because the observations can only be positive, students are led to examine the value of their learning, their reflecting, and their assignments. Although brief and not extraordinarily powerful, the last observation reveals the simple reflections and connections that the observations encourage--students see the practical application of class work, learning, and demonstration (even if it only revolves around grammar)!
Each time a student makes an observation, he/she is reflecting on the day's activities (discussions, student reactions, research, etc.) and framing his/her learning. As observations (and not feelings and interpretations), these reflections revolve around the four strands of course work and course objectives. In this sense, students once again make connections between their work/class activities and their perceptions, growth, and learning.
At the most basic level, the observations provide a collective log of the complex experiences and dimensions of the student's learning. In addition, the observations, as compared to traditional journal entries or reflections, directly parallel learning and growth, in that students are not merely recording their feelings about their work and growth, but observing them and focusing on the positive aspects of class activities, their work, and their growth. In this sense, the observations are more personal and meaningful, since students can see their observations and growth in relation to the work they do. Furthermore, the observations (which are dated) allow the student to reflect across time (the events of the class period, the observations and growth across the semester) and space (students see their growth and observations); although they are chronologically organized, the student can select whichever observation he/she wants to view and whichever observations the student wants to include in the complete, student and teacher-reviewed LRO. In essence, since the observations also deal with the student's work, the students have a powerful resource of and parallels/connections between their observations and work--especially since their actual work (papers, etc.) is one link away.
Likewise, the work samples allow the student to create (or upload) his/her work and view it across time (from the beginning of the semester to the end) and space (a collective space which is filled with their work and a link to their observations); all of the work, or links to it, is in the same neat space and not scattered amongst stapled pages, pockets of folders, or various links; in turn, the LRO more readily allows for revisions and connections.