Lynch and Purnawarman (2004:50) point out that ‘a solid electronic portfolio can show reflection, evolution of thought and overall professional development’. Research shows that electronic portfolio assessment, if implemented thoughtfully, can successfully engage learners in critical thinking and problem solving, promote lifelong education, encourage self evaluation and allow learners to have a higher degree of control over the learning process (Pierson and Kumari, 2000; Mason, Pegler, and Weller, 2004). Given the value of electronic portfolios, there has been growing interest in using electronic portfolio assessment to support teacher education (Lynch and Purnawarman, 2004). In this paper, we discuss on-going efforts at the University of Hong Kong to design assessment tasks for a language awareness course entitled ‘Pedagogical Content Knowledge’. The final-year student teachers taking the course are required to compile an electronic portfolio based on their reflections on the relevance and applicability of the issues relating to dealing with the content of learning in pedagogical practice discussed in the course. This paper sets out to describe and analyze issues relating to the design and implementation of the assessment, focusing specifically on the challenges that the research team faces. In our paper, we draw on a range of data, including student teachers’ feedback on the assessment and in-depth reflections of two student teachers after the assessment to critically evaluate the extent to which the assessment has achieved the intended learning outcomes. The reflective study shows that apart from technical support, methodological and psychological preparation designed to help students to take on a more active role in the learning and assessment process are also needed to help students to perform effectively in the computer-supported assessment. Implications are drawn for those who plan to conduct electronic portfolio assessment in higher education.
The Electronic Journal of e-Learning