Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, No.3, 290-292
Published Online June 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
The Impact of Implementing a Portfolio Assessment System on
Pre-Service Teachers’ Daily Teaching Reflections on
Improvement, Performance and Professionalism
Rebecca R. Robichaux1, Anthony J. Guarino2
1Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, Mi ss issippi State Uni ve rsity, Starkville, USA
2Biostatistics, MGH Institute of Health Profession, Boston, USA
Received April 9th, 2012; revised May 12th, 2012; a ccepted May 28th, 2012
Two groups of pre-service teachers (portfolio and non-portfolio) were compared on three factors, Im-
provement, Performance, and Professionalism. The Student Teaching Reflection Survey (STRS) (Ro-
bichaux, 2001) was developed to assess these traits. It was hypothesized that the portfolio group would
reflect more on their teaching skills resulting in greater scores on the STRS. Results indicated that the
portfolio group scored statistically significantly greater on Professionalism than the non-portfolio group.
However, the two groups scored equivalently on both Improvement and Performance. Thus, it appears
that requiring pre-service teachers to develop a portfolio leads to reflecting more on their professionalism.
This professionalism leads to the development of a more effective educator who can handle the complexi-
ties of teaching.
Keywords: Pre-Service Teachers; Assessment
Regardless of the age of the student and the content being
presented, teaching is a complex endeavor. Simultaneously, the
teacher must choose the precise words that will maintain inter-
est and convey the intended meaning for a large variety of
learners, while maintaining an environment conducive to
learning. Countless decisions must be made every second of the
lesson in order for it to be successful. Indeed this is no easy
task for veteran educators, let alone pre-service teachers taking
full responsibility for a classroom for the very first time. Stu-
dent teaching can be quite stressful for not only the student
teacher, but for the supervising teacher as well as she/he ob-
serves the daily struggles of the student teacher. To assist
pre-service teachers in their own professional growth, it is im-
perative that pre-service teachers use daily reflection. Accord-
ing to Groce, Henson and Woods (1999), the development of
the ability to reflect on one’s teaching is one of the underpin-
nings of the teaching profession. By consciously reflecting on
their teaching practices and the resulting student behaviors,
pre-service teachers can “construct their own learning through
an interaction among their beliefs, their prior knowledge, and
their experiences” (Lin, Gorrell, & Porter, 1999). As a result of
this learning experience, pre-service teachers become more res-
ponsive to changing their behaviors based on the needs of the
classroom (Rosen, 2000). As Costa and Kallick (2000) assert,
“the ultimate purpose of reflection is to get us into the habit of
thinking about our experiences.” Through this thinking about
their experiences, pre-service teachers learn what best practices
are for their current students and become more effective.
Although it has been widely documented that reflection is an
effective tool for improving teaching practices (Merryfield,
1993), teacher educators do not always explicitly teach pre-
service teachers how to meaningfully reflect on their teaching.
Instead, pre-service teachers are often expected to engage in
self-reflection even if they have never been provided with the
opportunity to learn these skills (Good & Whang, 2002). Fur-
thermore, “definitions that reveal differing theoretical orienta-
tions about reflection have resulted in confusion about its
meaning and uses” (Mackintosh, as cited in Imel, 1998). Accor-
ding to Loughran (2002), some educators consider reflection to
simply be “thinking about something, whereas for others, it is a
well-defined and crafted practice that carries very specific
meaning and associated action.”
Thus, the primary purpose of this exploratory investigation
was to examine the nature of the content of pre-service tea-
chers’ daily teaching reflections. Specifically, the researchers
sought answers to the following questions: 1) What do pre-
service teachers concentrate on when they reflect on their
teaching practices? 2) Compared to the pre-service teachers
who are required to assemble a professional portfolio, how does
the content of the reflections differ from those pre-service
teachers who are not required to do so?
Previous research reports that pre-service teachers tend to
write about classroom management problems, students’ social
interactions and the social dimension of learning (Draper, 1998;
Van, 1991). Beginning pre-service teachers seem to think that if
they do not have classroom management dilemmas, then they
are being effective teachers. They often fail to give sufficient
attention to the content of their lessons as an indicator of their
effectiveness. However in instances when portfolio assessment
is used with pre-service teachers, it has been shown that the
content of their teaching reflections does include a focus on the
content and the activities used to teach that content (McFarland,
1998). Additionally, as pre-service teachers gain experience,
classroom management issues become less of a concern and
curriculum, lesson content and context, and pedagogy become
more significant when reflecting on their teaching (Lee, 1999).
In general, “reflection continually emerges as a suggested way
of helping practitioners better understand what they know and
do as they develop their knowledge of practice through recon-
sidering what they learn in practice” (Lougran, 2002).
Although several studies have examined reflection and re-
flective teaching in teacher education, the overwhelming ma-
jority of these studies have been qualitative in design, focusing
on a small number of cases. Furthermore, the paucity of re-
search comparing the reflective practices of pre-service teach-
ers being assessed through an undergraduate professional port-
folio with those who were not assessed in this manner makes
this study relevant for those universities implementing or cur-
rently employing portfolio assessment.
Participants were 510 pre-service teachers, who had com-
pleted 180 hour of actual teaching and a minimum of 270 hours
of observations, conferencing, and participation in other teacher
duties such as grading, writing assessments, and researching
future lesson topics, during their student teaching semester. Of
the 510 participants, 232 completed their student teaching dur-
ing the first year of this study prior to the implementation of a
portfolio assessment system. Thus, these participants were not
required to submit an exit portfolio at the conclusion of their
degree programs. The remaining 278 participants completed
their student teaching experience during the second year of this
study and were required to submit a professional portfolio as a
requirement for graduation.
All participants successfully completed the student teaching
semester and thus, completed the degree requirements for their
major in education. Eighty seven percent were female while
13% were male. Slightly over 90% labeled themselves as Cau-
casian with the remaining 10% classified themselves as either
African American, Asian or “Other”.
Over the course of four consecutive semesters, participants in
this study completed The Student Teaching Reflection Survey
(STRS) (Robichaux, 2001) on the last day of their student tea-
ching experience.
Adopting Costa and Kallick’s (2000) theoretical framework,
the first author devised a three-domain instrument, The Student
Teaching Reflection Survey (STRS) (Robichaux, 2001). STRS is
a twelve-item questionnaire assessing three goals of reflection:
Improvement, Performance, and Professionalism, scored on a
4-point Likert-type scale.
According to Costa and Kallick, the mental processes that
one uses when reflecting include “comparing the results that
were anticipated and intended with the results that were
achieved, acting on and processing the information by analyz-
ing, synthesizing, and evaluating, and applying learning to con-
texts beyond the one in which it was learned and making com-
mitments to plans of action.” Thus in the STRS, Improvement
was operationalized as whether or not the student teacher com-
pared the outcomes of the lesson taught to what was expected.
Items in the Performance domain in the STRS assessed whether
or not the student teacher analyzed, synthesized and evaluated
specific aspects of the lesson. The final domain, Professional-
ism, evaluated the student teacher’s use of reflection as a tool
for professional growth.
A 2 × 3 mixed ANOVA was conducted for this study. The
between variable was group (non-portfolio, portfolio) while the
within variable was the three goals of reflection (performance,
professionalism, and improvement). Results indicated a statis-
tically significant interaction effect, Wilks’ Lambda = .639, F
(2, 507) = 143.39, p = .00 1, eta- squared = .027 .
A series of independent samples t-tests were conducted as
follow-up to the interaction effect to assess differences between
the two groups on: 1) Improvement; 2) Performance; and 3)
Professionalism. Results indicated differences on Professional-
ism. Because the equal variance assumption was violated as
indicated by a significant Levene’s test, a Behrens-Fisher cor-
rection was calculated. The portfolio group scored statistically
significantly greater than the non-portfolio group, F (403.55) =
3.96, p < .001. See Table 1 for means and standard deviations.
Follow-up repeated measures analysis indicated that that for
non-portfolio group, only Improvement was significantly grea-
ter than Professionalism or Performance. There was no signifi-
cant difference between Professionalism and Performance. See
Table 2 for means and standard deviations.
A second follow-up repeated measures analysis indicated
that for the portfolio group, Improvement was significantly
greater than Professionalism and Performance. Professionalism
was significantly greater than Performance. See Table 3 for
means and standard deviations.
The purpose of this investigation was to examine the nature
of the content of pre-service teachers’ daily teaching reflections.
In general, the content of most of the participants’ reflections
Table 1.
Group differences on professionalism.
Portfolio Non-portfolio
3.53 .51 3.3 .72
Table 2.
Non-portfolio group scores.
Variable M SD
Performance 3.21 .59
Professionalism 3.31 .72
Improvement 3.60 .46
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 291
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Table 3.
Portfolio group scor es.
Variable M SD
Performance 3.28 .51
Professionalism 3.53 .50
Improvement 3.64 .38
contained some aspects Improvement and some aspects of Per-
formance. Additionally, a majority of the participants agreed
that daily reflection is an indicator of one’s Professionalism.
With respect to the first research question concerning what
pre-service teachers concentrate on when they reflect on their
teaching, the results indicate that the pre-service teachers
scored higher on the Improvement domain. Specifically, they
appear to write about four aspects of improvement: 1) how the
lesson could be changed to make it better if it were to be taught
again; 2) what parts of the lesson were successful; 3) what parts
of the lesson were unsuccessful; and 4) how the students re-
acted to the lesson.
For the second research question, which addressed the dif-
ferences in the reflective practices of the participants required
to assemble a professional portfolio as compared to those who
were not required to do, the results indicate that there was a
difference between the two groups. The non-portfolio group
scored statistically significantly higher on the Improvement
domain than on the Performance and Professionalism domains.
However, the portfolio group scored statistically significantly
higher on both the Improvement and Professionalism domains
than on the Performance domain. This difference validated an
objective of completing a “professional” portfolio. Thus, the
portfolio group appears to be more reflective which is in
agreement with previous research that claimed, “Portfolio as-
sessment is valuable for promoting reflective practice in pre-
service teachers” (McFarland, 1998).
The results of this study seem to indicate that even if pre-
service teachers are not formally trained on how to reflect upon
their teaching and are not given reflection prompts, they still
appear to reflect on issues that are important to becoming effec-
tive educators. They also appear to learn to value reflection as a
tool for professional growth. By requiring pre-service teachers
to reflect daily on their teaching, it seems that these pre-service
teachers get in the habit of reflecting. By getting into this re-
flective habit, these pre-service teachers are developing habits
of professional growth and improvement (Costa & Kallick, 2000).
Furthermore, the authors suggest that teacher educators provide
their pre-service teachers with training on how to most effec-
tively reflect on their teaching so that the benefits of reflection
are maximized.
The results also indicate that the depth of a participant’s re-
flections was related to whether or not the participant was re-
quired to assemble a professional portfolio. Thus, it appears
that besides being an effective overall assessment tool, assem-
bling a professional portfolio also leads to being a more reflec-
tive practitioner which in turn leads to the development of a
more effective educator who can handle the complexities of
The authors wish to express their appreciation to Dr P. R.
Rodrigue for her invaluable assistance on this study.
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