Dr. Paul Leslie

Dr. Paul Leslie

Saturday, 13 June 2015 06:03

Video: How to Navigate the Portfolio Site

I have finished the Harvard Graduate School of Education Online course:

Making Thinking Visible: (Click for certificate).


This course has been highly influential for me over the last few months. As you will (or already have) notice, I have made several posts about this topic. I was struck by how closely it fits into and supports the portfolio approach to teaching and learning. 

By making our thinking visible to our community, we can both teacher and learn more clearly.

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 (http://tinyurl.com/gmh9n9b ) 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

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 04:40

4503 - End of Semester - Poster

Reflection and Significance

We want to know that you have reflected upon your work and can see the significance of what you have achieved. This is true for much of your work, but in the case of your research poster, this is your chance to really show us what you did and what you learned.


research poster present 200

As noted, all aspects of your research are important, from the location and participants to the research methodology and literature review. However, we are really just waiting to find out what you learned and why it is important.

Pay close attention as well to the bottom element from the board notes. We want to know what you think is the value of your action research. This does not mean your findings, but rather the process of doing the research. 

We have asked you to also produce a nice short statement linking the process represented by your visual text with your action research.


Your final report must be submitted through the SharePoint Assignment dropbox. If you have appendices or other evidence that you want to include, you must scan them to pdf, or take photos and put the photos in your report.

The report is due, June 1st, at 4:00 PM.

Mapping your route

Think of this assignment as a mapping activity. Every aspect of it should map to a larger aspect of your work. See the assignment document here.


curriculum map

We should be able to follow, more or less clearly, the link from your daily activity to the weekly plan to the theme to the overall curriculum. In this manner, you can ensure that you are following a clear set of goals and meeting the needs of the various stakeholders.

 Preliminary Research Plan

This is you r final assignment. You have already completed much of the work on which you will base your report. Since you have all finished your presentations on your action research, all that is left is for you to write your report based on our feedback to your presentation. If you do not have your feedback and presentation report, let me know.

This image is from our last class in which we discussed the concept of the action cycle in relation to your research and assignment. See the assignment document here.


action research cycle 200

The 'action' part of action research is your reaction to the results of your activities. You should try out your new idea, note how it works, and in some manner check to see the students reactions to the new activity. Did it give you results? Then you take your results and use them to edit or alter your activity to try and make it better. 

You may be comparing something. So then you need to build in cycles where you try one idea and then try the other idea. Then you will have something to compare. 

If you are trying a new idea to see if it make something better, you will need to know what results the 'regular' way of doing things has. In this manner, you can show if your new and improved idea is actually helping more than the regular or old way of doing something.

Good Luck

I will not teach you again. I wish you all the best in your new semester.

Saturday, 23 May 2015 23:44

Making Thinking Visible - Part 3


As we watch portfolio presentations, I am struck by the value of the reflection that I am seeing in your presentations. I have noticed that there is a direct correlation (relationship) between the amount of reflection apparent in your presentation and portfolio, and the quality of the portfolio presentation. We have discussed many times in our classes the value of reflection and I have pointed out to you that the portfolio is a reflective tool. 

competencies-relative weight

Relative weighting of competencies

The figure shows what I perceive to be the relative weighting or perhaps more accurately, the relative relationship between the five competencies. I would think the three middle competencies of planning, managing and assessing learning are clearly related. It is your ability to do this well that shows your professionalism. However, you will only improve and mature by reflecting on what you do in the classroom and the actions you take to improve your professional abilities.

Make reflection visible

To excel in your final work, you need to be able to show what you have learned. That will be true for any course and virtually any assessment. You should use your portfolio to make your reflection visible by including artefacts, images and a wide variety of other media to represent your experiences and then try to make sense out them through the various tools you have at your disposal. 

We have discussed a range of artefacts and evidence that you can use to address the competencies (see the google doc). You should make a great effort to collect a wide variety of items that represent the efforts you have made in your classrooms. One method that is undeniably effective is to record yourself on video (see the video below). There can be no denying your actions when you see yourself as others see you.

Once you have your evidence, then you need to analyse it. Think of Bloom.


 Blooms Taxonomy

You can recount your work, then you can categorize it and compare results from different approaches to activities. Next, you need to evaluate your results and generate some general conclusions about what you have been doing. From these results, you can think about how you can improve and create from your experiences new activities to improve your practice.

Syllabus Design - Board Notes

We created this set of board notes last week in our discussion of your syllabus design. Don't forget, you also need to create a proper report for this assignment. Have a look at last week's notes just remind yourselves.

themes syllabus baord 200

I encourage you to put your design skills to good use and try to "map" for me your process of designing the syllabus. The more explicit you can be in your design, the better I will be able to follow it and of course give you a good grade.

water theme map

Download word doc

Extend and Align

I will remind you of the final two outcomes for this course:

Learning Outcome 3: Analyze the factors that impact on the implementation of a curriculum.

  • In your syllabus, you should highlight or indicate anticipated factors and / or provide some discussion of how you try to incorporate external activities and events in your curriculum.

Learning Outcome 4: Evaluate and align assessment strategies within any given syllabus for the purpose of confirming learning.

  • As discussed at length during your teaching practice, you should really focus on making the links between your lesson objectives or outcomes to the activities to the assessments.


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 http://colinpurrington.com/tips/academic/posterdesign

(Ironically, as I was copying his notes, I found this post: http://colinpurrington.com/2013/teaching-plagiarism-by-example/)

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.






Writing Good Questions

Writing good questions is a very difficult task. We don't want to repeat assessment strategies and principles from earlier in your academic career (I assume you have looked as assessment principles). However, we do need to check to make sure that the questions follow some basic rules.

Reliability: This refers to how well does a question or a test produce the same results for similar students under similar conditions. Basically, if a two students of equal ability take the test, they should get the same score. This is quite difficult to ensure, but we can take steps to make sure our assessments are reliable by:

  • ensuring they are clearly written and unambiguous
  • ensuring they are aligned with course outcomes
  • having a few more questions rather than a few less

There are many other aspects that we need to consider when making a test or assessment reliable. 

vulogo - Writing good Questions

Validity: This quality refers to how closely does the question or test actually test what you think it is testing. 

You need to ensure that your questions are clear and actually test the right skills or content. This does overlap somewhat with reliability, but here the difference is that a test can be reliable, but not actually test what you think it is testing.

This is particularly difficult with second language learners. Your test about concepts behind good presentations might actually be a test of vocabulary, not presentation skills.



As far as your quizzes and assessment tasks are concerned in your Moodle sites, we will not worry too much about these concepts, but I do want good assessments. They need to be fair, reasonable and accurate.

  • Do not give a test or quiz with 5 true and false questions.
  • Do not give a quiz with only three questions.
  • Try to make sure there are no spelling errors.
  • Take your own test. Did you get all the answers right?



Assignments and Discussions

Click here for a review of rubrics and considerations when creating assignments. When creating your assignments, please consider the following:

Read my article on Discussion boards. How can you have a discussion if you are not discussing?

  • Assignments:
    • If you have an assignment, is there a rubric?
    • Do students know how to submit?
    • Is there a scope?
    • Is there a printable document that can be downloaded and taken home?
    • Is there something that can be sent out or read online?
  • Discussion boards
    • Can they actually answer the question you are asking?
    • Is there a word count?
    • Is there sufficient timeline for completion?


Apply to Moodle

Finally, you need to be able to realize these strategies in the Moodle site. How can you meet and demonstrate these strategies and requirements in your site?

One issue that we should consider is versatility. According to the Vanderbilt site, versatility applies to the ability of the testing tool to test different levels. Think about discussion boards and how you might extend or differentiate a good discussion board question.

In an EDTC format, we also want to consider how easily the work can be shared. Think about your school and how teachers often try to integrate different subjects. How could your questions be shared across courses or between teachers.


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