Published: Professional Portfolios to Demonstrate ‘Artful Competency’

e-Journal of Business Education & Scholarship of Teaching Vol. 8, Iss. 2, 2014, pp: 112-122. ”

Paul Leslie Faculty of Education / Educational Technology, Sharjah Higher Colleges


A complaint of, and about, professionals is that they often have no way of "accounting for the artful competence" (Schon, 1983: 19) displayed in their daily work. A portfolio approach to learning (Leslie, 2012) offers educational practitioners processes through which to both demonstrate professional competencies and continue to learn from their own work. This study uses observations, surveys and interviews with teacherparticipants from a six-month project in a primary school in the UAE. It examines how the teachers begin to employ a portfolio approach in their own practice to transform the traditional portfolio into an experiential, lifelong learning process. Findings discuss how the teachers developed a greater sense of community, a range of associated skills, and allowed stakeholders including supervisors to play a much greater role in the skills development of the teachers.

Keywords: Professional portfolio; competencies; experiential; lifelong JEL

Classification: A22 ; I21 PsycINFO Classification: 3560 FoR Code: 1303; 1599 ERA Journal ID#: 35696

Tuesday, 09 June 2015 13:08

Statement of Research Interests

Education is a community affair. My Philosophy of Education informs my research on the scholarship of teaching and learning involving the social construction of knowledge. Over the past few years I have published articles on blogging as student activity, discussion boards for assessment, and the use of portfolios for teaching and learning activities. A complete list is provided above.

Research Focus: I am currently exploring two related concepts. Students often struggle to make conceptual connections across courses and units of study. So, as advisor, I am exploring the notion of idea management ( ) through the use of portfolios and new media to support reflective processes for individual learners and practitioners. I am also exploring the use of rubrics as teaching and learning tools and not just as assessment tools.

I am also working with a number of teaching faculty to explore the use of cloud storage and synchronous editing tools to support academic inquiry within the classroom. Much of my research revolves around the notion of, “Narratives of Learning”. As McLuhan tells us, “the medium is the message”.

I believe that students’ ability to make connections is enhanced through greater clarity in program level and course level outcomes. Current trends in bespoke and tailored programs use electives and cross-listed courses to offer a greater range of opportunities, which may have the effect of clouding outcomes and hence such offerings may pose conceptual issues for all stakeholders, especially students. Hence, I am investigating the use of program level outcomes to provide a more cohesive overview of programs, and on the construction of learning outcomes as tools to formulate and then drive academic inquiry in the classroom.

Ultimately, in keeping with my education philosophy, I believe that greater clarity in purpose and focus will allow more students to be successful in their endeavors.

Research Methodologies: I generally employ a participatory action research model, with an emphasis on ethnographic reviews of constructed knowledge in the form of edited documents from classroom activities, blog and discussion board posts, and teacher constructed artefacts. I have also applied quantitative analyses based on a grounded theory approach to code blog and discussion board entries in order to measure the effects of specific models of interactions. I used a similar grounded theory approach to code interviews and focus groups with students and teachers.

Research and Resources: In order to pursue my research, I have liaised with a variety of stakeholders to ensure proper resources. Required resources have included access to server space and dedicated time from IT specialists to provide technical support. I have also worked with external partners in Nova Scotia to secure funding for various research projects promoted by the program chairs for whom I was a consultant.

Perhaps the greatest resource I have secured was time allotted to local school teachers by the Ministry of Education in Sharjah and directions to spend the time with me. These resources were secured by demonstrating the application of the research to stakeholders, including students.

Paul Leslie

Published in Curriculum Vitae
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 04:41

EDU 4503 - Week 13 - Research Poster

Poster Presentation

Assessment document

Poster Due Date: Tuesday May 26th, @ 2:00 PM via SharePoint Dropbox

Presentation Due date: May 31st and June 1st - Schedule


In this assessment, you will design an A1 (594 X841MM or 23.4” X33.1”) poster of your research project and then deliver an oral presentation of the poster and research.

In your presentation, you should:

  • Explain the focus of the research
  • Describe the educational context
  • Analyze the data in combination with insights from the relevant literature
  • Discuss the study’s connections to your professional interests
  • Reflect on the research process and its impact on your personal and professional growth.

The presentation should be:

  • clear and logical
  • engaging and enthusiastic
  • 15 minutes in length with 15 minute question period.

Your poster should:

  • Include
    • Title, name and introduction
    • Brief literature review
    • Methodology
    • Findings
    • Conclusion
      • Include discussion of how this research has impacted your professional practice
    • References (only for citations used in the poster)
  • Be designed in PowerPoint or Publisher.



The presentation should show evidence of effective presentation skills including:

  • A clear, logical structure
  • An engaging, enthusiastic and appropriate presentation style
  • Appropriate use of effective visual aids to your poster
  • Fluent and accurate language

Some examples from EDTC (I hope they do not mind!)

From Colin Purrington's web site:

"A large-format poster is a document that can communicate your research at a conference, and is composed of a short title, an introduction to your burning question, an overview of your novel approach, your amazing results in graphical form, some insightful discussion of aforementioned results, a listing of previously published articles that are important to your research, and some brief acknowledgement of the tremendous assistance and financial support conned from others — if all text is kept to a minimum, a person could fully read your poster in under 5 minutes (really)."

Purrington, C.B. Designing conference posters. Retrieved May 29, 2013, from

(Ironically, as I was copying his notes, I found this post:

Please remember the following points:

  • Do not leave it until the last minute!
  • Make sure any graphs or charts have clear labels
  • You can use a template, but don't be constrained by the template. If you need to 'tweak' it feel free to do so. Do not squeeze more important comments to fit less important comments.
  • Proofread your work! We hope to save these and place them around the college. Your name will be on it.
  • Do not use too many words. It is a poster, not an essay.



Published in EDU 4503
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:53

EDU 4505 - Week 1 - Research Project

Research on TP

You will only have 6 weeks to conduct your research while out on the teaching placement. You will finish all of your research before the mid-semester break.

The last four weeks of your internship will be, hopefully, an actual internship. You will then need to get started the very first week. If you are in a new school, you need to make that your first priority.

  • Establish your participants and make sure you contact them.
  • Discuss with all stakeholders how you can ensure better participation. 

Lets have a look at Mills (2011) and see what he has to say about the data collection. methodology.

He asks (p. 125), "Is your research question still answerable and worth answering?" What are your research questions? Share them with your school partners.

Next, he talks about the types of data that you will collect. What we want to know, is

  • how will you collect this data?
  • how much data can you collect?
  • how can you share your data? Is it share-able?


  • How will you send out the surveys and how will you collect the data?
    • Think about the easiest way for the respondents, not for you.
    • Can you share your surveys?


  • Normally, a researcher would observe someone else. In action research, you are observing your own actions. However, for a formal research project, how (or who) will you achieve this? 

Review questions

Once we are all clear on our processes, we will then start to do some individual consultation on your actual processes.



Overview of Research Project Format

Table of Contents:

  • Actually, tables of contents are not normally part of APA formatting, however they are very convenient, especially for long papers such as my thesis (245 pages!)
  • Use headings and then your table with automatically format with the page numbers. If you do not, i will delete it!

Abstract (120-150):

  • Give a summary of the questions, process and findings of the research project.
  • This will be the last thing you write.

Introduction (300): Give a rationale for the selection of your topic, your research questions and details of the context and participants of your study.

  • You will need to return to this and edit is substantially before you write your conclusion. Your introduction should include a brief overview of your research questions and thus a short discussion of your research context. Then, you need to align it with your conclusion. 
  • It is perfectly acceptable to change your research questions part way through the project.

Literature review (400-500):

  • Include definitions / some discussion of key terms plus details of what the literature suggests regarding effective approaches to your topic.
  • Ensure you only include information which is related to your research questions and take care to include references correctly.
  • A minimum of 5 texts should be referenced.

Research methodology (400-500):

  • Include a diagram of the research cycle you have followed with some commentary.
  • Briefly describe your ethical considerations plus which data collection tools you selected and justify why.

Implementation of action plan (400-500):

  • Clearly describe & justify the actions taken in light of findings from the preliminary study, including the literature review.
  • This where you need to be clear from your preliminary plan. You may need to go back and edit your plan.
    • Everyone will need to review their plans.
    • Anyone who got less than an A- (87%) needs to edit or rethink..

Data analysis & Findings from action plan (400-500):

  • Describe the process you followed to translate your raw data from the implementation of your action plan into practical findings.
  • Discuss what your research found in relation to your research questions.
  • Ensure you include relevant supporting data.

Final Conclusions (250-300):

  • Summarize your findings in relation to your research questions.
  • Note the limitations of your research.
  • Make recommendations based on your findings and reflect on how this research project has contributed to your own professional development.


  • Follow the APA format. Please be accurate.


  • These may include data collection tools, samples of implemented activities or strategies and/or evidence of findings presented in the report.
  • Be sure all appendices are clearly labeled and are referred to in the text.
  • Table and figure naming are different for appendices as well.
Published in EDU 4503
Monday, 26 January 2015 23:20

EDU 4505 - Week 1 - Review your Plan

Discussion of Preliminary Report

General formatting:

The HCT follows the APA Formatting and Style Guide. Click here ( for a comprehensive, college based guide.

For most of these items, you can set the style in Word. For example, use:

  • Normal – main text which includes
    • Line spacing, spacing between headings and text
    • Font
      • Arial or Times New Roman, size 12, NOT Bold or Italic, black color (!)
  • Headings
    • Use the APA approved settings
  • Do not use bullet points for titles.
    • They may be used for lists in the text, but tables are better.
  • Use the MS Word references tool.


Some of you discussed your research questions, or issues and a range of other items. You need to be very clear about where to present your information. For example, my supervisor’s review of my thesis was mainly concerned with the order of presenting information.

In your introduction, you must discuss how you arrived at your topic, give some background as to the relevance of the topic and then pose your specific research questions. You may also want to discuss what transformation you hope to achieve.

Literature review

Remember that the literature review is not done to prove your points, but to help you find current thoughts and knowledge on your topic.

Normally, to do research, you would have an area of general interest and then you would do a literature review to find out what is already known about what you are trying to do. Then you can move forward with the rest of your research.



  • Discuss the literature and try to relate it to instance or examples from your teaching, but do not lose focus on the point of the activity.
  • You need to review a variety of points through the review. If you have a similar or the same point, then you can cite two authors at the same time.
  • One significant element of the review is to tell your audience who said what. Therefore, you cannot say, “As it was mentioned in one of the journals”.
  • You are discussing other people’s opinions, so be careful with statements such as,
    • “The school must open the door to help build a relation with parents and hold their hand on the challenges and barrier that stands between them and their participation”
  • Make sure you actually discuss people’s opinions. Some of you have entire paragraphs where you do not discuss literature.
  • Formatting ‘faux pas’
    • According to Garry Hornby,
    • (C.Hughes, A.Marks &R. Ensor 2009)
    • "There was a review paper done by Desforges et al. in 2003 which mentioned the parental involvement …"
      • Desforges  (2003) mentions parental involvement…
      • Desforges must then be in your reference list.
    • "According to Pica, “movement and language are both forms of communication and self-expression” (Pica, Linking Literacy and Movement, 2010)."
      • According to Pica (2010), “movement and language are both forms of communication and self-expression” (Linking Literacy and Movement).




Some of you need to refine the questions and align them better. Some questions are actual results of other questions, not questions themselves. However, some of you have very strong research questions. Here are some examples of questions:

  • "What kind of activities I can apply to attract as much as I can of parent to involved?"
  • "How the teachers encourage parents to teach their children at home to increase children talk?"
  • "What story telling approaches work best to increase children’s talk?"
    • "How can cooperative learning improve their talk?"
    • "What is the parents’ role in increasing their children’s talk?"
    • "Does technology have a role in improving their talk?"
  • How might a family be involved when reading games are sent home?”
    • "To what extend parents are involved in game playing?"
    • "When it is done and how long it took?"
    • "Who participated in game playing?"

Some of you are using secondary or second-hand data. For example, you are asking teachers about the parents. This might be useful, but be careful to not rely too heavily on it. Such opinions may be very general and highly inaccurate.



Collection of data

You do need to have a certain amount of data. If you find that you only have one parent who will participate, you could turn your report into a case study, but the results would be limited and there might be ethical considerations if you are treating one student differently than the others.

Keep to the topic. Think about the mapping activities we did for curriculum. This is the same idea. You need to be focused on how the research methods will align to the questions.

If you are teaching, how will you efficiently collect:

  • instances and nature of student talk
  • instances and nature of teacher talk

Don't be shy about using technology to capture parent’s responses - just be careful. You will need to be clear on what types of data you are collecting. This is not simply for ‘ethical procedures’, but is actually to protect privacy. Some people might get very upset if you are not forthcoming about your research.

Presentation of information in graphs

  • Use labels for both axes, and make sure you include the units (e.g. # of parents, % of students, days per week, etc.)



Action research

From your conclusions:

  • “The purpose from these questions is to explore all the approaches and select the best. … It can help me to find the best way that make the children talk and interact with me and with the others.”
  • “Also working with parent can benefits me more and benefits the parents themselves with their children (… how??). …
  • “Also I can use the stories to manage some behaviors so I can use it as strategy in classroom management and to explain some topics or lessons.”
Published in EDU 4503
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:32

Research Focus - Questions

We are halfway through your research project and internship. By now you should have clarified your research question or questions and be really collecting data on your topic.

Please review the following information about research questions:

Table 1: Types of Questions

(Based on: Web Center for Social Research Methods, 2006. Retrieved April 22, 2014 from,

There are three basic types of questions that research projects can address:

  • * Descriptive.
    • A study that is designed primarily to describe what is going on or what exists. Surveys that ask what people like or do not like, use or do not use are primarily descriptive in nature. When you observe how teachers use a certain technology in their classroom, you are being descriptive.

    • Narrative, case study,

    • Often more qualitative, although you will certainly have room for some numbers (quantitative).

  • ** Correlational.
    • A study that is designed to look at the relationships between two or more variables. A survey that compares between using Twitter in the classroom or instagram would study the relationship between communication tools and user preference.

    • A relational study assumes that you can first describe (by measuring or observing) each of the variables you are trying to relate.

    • Comparative, based on greater quantitative data (e.g. how many comments do they get on twitter compared to Instagram), although you will have room for qualitative descriptions (e.g. of the use of either communication tool).

  • *** Cause and effect.
    • A study that is designed to determine whether one or more variables causes or affects one or more outcomes. Does using Twitter cause more parents to help their children with their homework?

    • A causal (cause and effect) study assumes that you can describe both the cause and effect variables and that you can show that they are related to each other.

    • Causal studies are probably the most demanding of the three.

Most of you will be doing some form of action research which will result in a descriptive research project. You may do some form of correlational research where you compare two things. This is more difficult because you must be clear what you are comparing. This is where a lot of research, even highly respected research goes astray - they have not considered all of the factors that may be influencing a result.

Here are some considerations when writing or refining your research questions.

  • Try to avoid value judgments. This means you should try to avoid stating that something is good or bad. You should also avoid questions that may ask, "Should teachers do...". replace this question with, "How can _________ support / help teachers do ..."
  • Avoid questions that are too easily answered with yes no, or some universal decision.
  • Be clear and specific with your variables in your questions.
  • Use bullet points or sub-questions to help you be specific.
  • Try to be focused on a specific activity, tool, set of tools, or concept.  

Have a look at these sites to get some helpful tips:

Unclear: Why are social networking sites harmful?
Clear: How are online users experiencing or addressing privacy issues on such social networking sites as MySpace and Facebook?

Unfocused: What is the effect on the environment from global warming?
Focused: How is glacial melting affecting penguins in Antarctica?

Published in EDUC 408
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:38


Files for class

Published in Education
Sunday, 08 December 2013 11:42

EDUC 404 - Week 14 - Final Stretch

Online Courses

The video below is a collection of lessons learned from online course delivery. I think it contains many helpful hints that you can incorporate into your work. It also may inspire you to do better work

Some ideas that I think are very interesting and relevant to you may be:

  • Participants
    • Do you know of people who are sitting at home not doing much and letting their skills slowly seep away?
    • Do you know of anyone who is sitting at home because they cannot get out / go out?
    • Do you know of anyone who would love to learn something / anything but cannot get to a college or school?
  • Opportunities for research
    • What about the flipped classroom?
    • What about videos for parents?
    • What about support for high school students?
    • Kindergarden students?

Starting at about 6:50, she discusses some of the components of online learning. One truly interesting thing she says is that this format allows teachers to break away from the constraints of the regular classroom including the time frame of the one hour class and then a break!

Learning Object

See the course map at 8:39.

At about 9:00, she then says that we do not only learn by watching videos, we need to do something with the videos or the information.

At about 10:00, she shows how the video is stopped while the student is asked a question. Does this look familiar? Can you say, Lesson Module!

Around 13:20, she talks about discussion boards. Anything interesting?

At about 15:00, she begins to discuss item analysis, which while very interesting, is not particular relevant to us, although some of you might find it interesting to your research projects.

CMS Map and Presentation

This assessment is a combination of learning outcomes 3 and 4, from:

EDUC 404:

The next few weeks will be concerned with your research proposal. Your assignment for 404 is to design a CMS map and highlight how you will be able to use your CMS, or any CMS used by your school, to support your research proposal.

  • LO 3:
    • Elaborate, through discussions, questionnaires, interviews and analysis, a list of potential issues or needs which could be addressed through the development of a learning product.
    • Select a specific issue at the internship site which can realistically be addressed through the development of a learning product by the student
  • LO 4:
    • Identify a learning product solution to the issue.
    • List the tasks involved in creating and implementing the learning product solution.
    • Identify and describe an evaluation plan for the learning product solution


You will design a map of your CMS which shows how you have structured your CMS Moodle site. You need to highlight:

  • Specific tools and how their content will support your work (research).
  • Indicate who will use the various tools
  • Show how the various tools are arranged to facilitate ease of access.


Your map should be in the form of a graphical representation. You should use mind mapping software. You should be able to print the main map, but include links to further content in the e-version.


The map needs to be included in your Moodle site and the link submitted to the assignment drop box. Ensure that the map can be viewed without having to log into the site.

Feel free to take the CMS map you  designed for your Moodle LO and expand on it for this assignment. However, make sure you do in fact expand on it.


Your presentation must demonstrate the following:

  • Summary of your needs analysis with a specific proposal that clearly derives from the analysis.
  • Discussion of how the proposal can be supported by the use of an LMS / CMS. You must discuss specific features.
  • You must lay out a plan for the development of your site including your specific plans for the LMC / CMS.
  • You must set clear objectives for your plan and elaborate on a how you will measure success against those goals.
Published in EDUC 404
Sunday, 08 December 2013 11:29

EDUC 403 - Week 14 - Final Stretch

Three week break coming up. I can feel it already...

Before you go, lets discuss your work.

research proposal support

In this map, you can see all four courses for which you will be assessed. 

403: Presumably, you will do your research at the location where you completed your recent internship needs analysis.  You need to discuss the setting and give an overview of your needs analysis findings. This will start with the conclusion of your needs analysis paper. 

402: What methodologies will you use to conduct your research?

406: What theories will underpin, or support, your work. No doubt, different areas of your work will be supported by different aspects of a theory or different theories.

404: How will you use technology to support your work? While the work should be based on learning theories and the needs of your school, as educational technologists, you are seeking technology based methods of making your community educational life better. 

 Here is the task description from the assessment document for 403 and 404:


The fourth and final outcome for 403 and 404 is identical:

Create a draft research proposal.

  • Sub-outcome 01: Summarize the results of the needs analysis for inclusion in the research proposal, identifying a specific problem or need to be addressed by the proposal.
  • Sub-outcome 02: Identify a learning product solution to the issue.
  • Sub-outcome 03: Elaborate the purpose, target audience, and success indicators for the learning product solution.
  • Sub-outcome 04: List the tasks involved in creating and implementing the learning product solution.
  • Sub-outcome 05: Identify and describe an evaluation plan for the learning product solution.


Your proposal will be a written essay (~750 words) in which you provide a:

  • Summary of your needs analysis with a specific proposal that clearly derives from the analysis.
  • Discussion of how the proposal can be supported by the use of an LMS / CMS. You must discuss specific features.
  • You must lay out a plan for the development of your site including your specific plans for the LMS / CMS.
  • You must set clear objectives for your plan and elaborate on a how you will measure success against those goals.


Your presentation must demonstrate the proposal.


You may use any presentation tools. However, in the discussion of your LMS / CMS you must show either the site or screen shots from the site.

Published in EDUC 403
Monday, 28 October 2013 07:03

EDUC 403 - Week 8 - Needs Analysis

First, I want to go over a few writing issues with you.

  • EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Then PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD. What is the difference?
  • Use headings! You need to break your work in to sections. This will help me to read your work more easily. It will also help YOU to write more clearly and in a more organized fashion.
  • Use proper citations.
    • Refer to the OWL APA site for formatting
    • Check out this page for examples of how to incorporate references into your writing.
  • Format your overall essay with a cover page, proper linespacing and so forth. You get no points for making your essay look cute.

Needs Analysis - DUE DATE - Thursday, December 5th

This assessment is based on Learning Outcome 3 of the EDUC 403 course:

Conduct a needs analysis at the internship site.

  • Analyze the operational systems at the internship site to determine how things work on a day-to-day basis.
  • Elaborate, through discussions, questionnaires, interviews and analysis, a list of potential issues or needs which could be addressed through the development of a learning product.
  • Select a specific issue at the internship site which can realistically be addressed through the development of a learning product by the student.


You expected to produce a report that includes, where appropriate, tables, statistical / numerical data, and other evidence.

The report should be in an essay format containing a written component supported by evidence.

You need to include:

  • Record of analysis. Record all observations, discussions, presentations, made at the school
  • Tools used to get feedback from teachers. Should include survey / questionnaire; interview notes or audio / video files (see EDUC 406)
  • List of issues / needs and possible solutions. Not all needs require solutions. You will pick one, or a combination for your draft proposal.

School Briefing

You need to organize a meeting with your principal and concerned faculty to go over the TP booklet. You need to highlight the following points:

  • You are expected to complete your ten week internship next semester in the same location as your two week placement this semester.
  • As Educational Technology students, your topics for this research project may include:
    • Development and Use of e-materials
      • Comparisons of different formats
      • Comparisons of different modes of deliver
      • Use with different age groups
    • Use of Learning platforms & social media tools for communication
      • Twitter for School – Family communications
      • Course delivery for students
      • Repositories for sharing among teachers / schools
      • Discussion boards and learning platforms for communication between parents – school – teachers – students.
    • Use of hardware
      • Best practices in smartboards
      • Use of tablets (Ipad, Android)
Published in EDUC 403
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