Supporting the learning and development of Modern Languages ...

eFeedback: Supporting the Academic and Personal Development of Modern Languages students on their Year Abroad via the ePortfolio Dr Franck Michel School of Modern Languages / Newcastle University Enhancing the Learning Experience of ML students through Feedback University of Bristol 25 May 2012 What is an ePortfolio? An ePortfolio is the product, created by the learner, a collection of digital artefacts articulating experiences, achievements and learning. Behind any product, or presentation, lie rich and complex processes of planning, synthesising, sharing, discussing, reflecting, giving, receiving and responding to feedback. These

processes referred to here as ePortfolio-based learning are the focus of increasing attention, since the process of learning can be as important as the end product. (JISC, 2008) Newcastle Universitys ePortfolio Originally developed by the School of Medical Sciences to support reflective learning Extended to the whole University for PGR programmes as a PDP and Personal Tutoring tool Currently being phased in for all PG and UG taught programmes for PDP, PT and for students to record, reflect on, and further their skills development.

Piloting the ePortfolio 8 volunteers Third Year students of German, French and Spanish ePortfolio used weekly by participants to: o o o o record daily-life experiences and challenges define/review personal (learning) objectives reflect on their development (personal, academic, professional) and skills offer and receive feedback to/from peers ePortfolio used as a Personal Tutoring tool

o o pastoral support (blog comments / Skype) academic support (learning advice / review of objectives) Success indicators Academic community set up by students: the ePortfolio Hamster Year Number of entries/comments recorded after 8 months: o o 95 student blog entries (average = 12 per participant) 129 comments overall (approx. 71 student comments)

Evidence of serious personal reflection Evidence of genuine and spontaneous support/interaction between participants Evidence of personal reflection (M.s blog) [The] main thing that was annoying me was the shock of going from Berlin [] to a teeny tiny town in very rural France. I never thought I'd get culture shock because I always imagined it'd be between home and wherever I went, but this snuck up on me! [] Second thing was a blow to my confidence in terms of language development. At the beginning I COULD NOT get out of thinking-inGerman mode and it was annoying me because I wanted to get into thinking-in-French mode ASAP to make the most of my time here. On reflection I was panicking and after having calmed myself, I am now able to think in French (enough so that I'm happy with it anyway) without forcing it upon myself. I also made a pact with myself that I'm going to teach myself French in

my spare time because the level of interaction I have with people in the school and indeed, outside of it isn't enough to meet my high expectations. Evidence of personal reflection (M.s blog) So, to that end I'm making a grammar sheet that makes grammar as easy to understand as possible and once that's done, I will make some grammar exercises to get it really cemented in my head. What's more, I also plan to get an audio and written diary going, so I can practice both my speaking and written language quite regularly. [] I'm also making more of an effort to find people to speak with in the town. So I'm speaking to Max more often (he's also giving me a TV so I'll be able to watch TV without having to worry about stupid French school network problems, which at the moment don't allow me to watch TF1). This afternoon, I'm going to go say bonjour to the Handball club and see what's occurin' there and whether I can get involved fairly often.

Failing that (or indeed, in addition to) I'm going to call the fencing and archery clubs and ask similar things. I think that will be enough to get my performance up to my high expectations of myself!! Evidence of reflection/support/interaction Extract from D.s blog: [] I was on a downer after reading about how well A.'s doing in Lyon, and thinking, man I don't do that much. But how am I always busy?! Then I realised, just over 3 years ago I knew almost no French, so when we stop comparing ourselves to other people and look at our own progress, we can perhaps feel a bit more proud. A.s comment: Next thing, I feel really bad that my blog in any way made you feel bad. That upsets me a lot. Without singing your praises too much, I think everyone knows that how far you personally have come in French is incredible and shows amazing

dedication and language acquisition skills. More to the point, yes I'm having a great time - I won't deny that - but I'm jealous of things that you're doing, especially your personal experience of teaching because some of the lectures here, quite frankly, are worse than awful. Evidence of reflection/support/interaction M.s comment to D.s post and A.s comment: [] But mainly, I have to say the past 5 minutes reading your post, D., and your reply, A., have been MORE than enlightening. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who's doubted my ability at some stage. [] So yeah, D., I can sympathise with you on this one because, in all honesty, I've felt like my French is nowhere up to scratch since I started Uni. I went from being the best in class to mediocre at the best of times and it's a shock to the system. But the only thing to have changed was the canvas against which I was (and still am) set (Uni opposed to 6th form). I've still improved, more so than I ever have at anything (save for German), it's just

that there are others who have been better since the beginning and who always will be better. Student views on the ePortfolio 67% felt it had been beneficial or very beneficial to their personal development It was a great way to see how I had progressed and whether I had kept to my targets or not It gave me the freedom to reflect on my development, in my own way that was helpful to me

Thought it was helpful, but it isn't something that I would continue to use if I didn't have to do it It is good for setting targets and hence tracking progress 83% felt the ePortfolio had been beneficial or very beneficial as a feedback tool This is probably the best bit of the ePortfolio getting support and ideas from other students, and knowing that you're all "in the same boat" and going

through similar experiences. Everybody has something to bring and encourage others with. It was good to be able to give feedback to others, and also nice to receive comments from my peers as that made me feel that what I wrote was actually being read. Challenges ahead Creating a sense of ownership among users Supporting users to achieve deeper reflective learning:

o PDP training for students and tutors o curriculum embedding o encouraging learners to share and incorporate feedback into their learning Large-scale development planning Emphasizing long-term benefits over short-term rewards

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