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How effective are our renewed e-journals in recording and informing formative student learning?

Name of Initiators

Mike Sutton, Hazel Woodhouse, and Angela Hammond.


How effective are our renewed e-journals in recording and informing students, and parents of formative student learning.

Our Research Questions:
Has student engagement increased onto the e-journals? (Comparison in data from our last benchmark taken in 2010)

What impact are the renewed e-journals having on the students teachers and parents?

How are we going to find out what is happening at present?

Collection of Base Line Data

We are using a questionnaire to gain response from parents, teachers and students into their opinions of the effectiveness of the renewed e-journal as a formative assessment tool.

The responses gained will then be compared and analysed against the last benchmark questionnaire, which were issued last year before the e-journals were re-designed.

The questionnaire to parents will be the same as last year, but when reviewing the student and teachers questionnaire we are asking questions that we feel will give us a greater insight; focussing more on engagement and opportunities to engage in class/home.

Further data will be gained form Ultranet where we will be looking closely at usage by parents students and teachers to again compare with our initial benchmark assessment.

Teacher practice data

The teacher practice data will form a large part of our research. In our research last year we trialled an integration of e-journals to classroom practice advocating a move of not being an "add -on" which teachers did at home.

Since then as part of our professional development in staff meetings and Retreat we have had a strong focus on formative assessment. We have looked at examples of formative assessment in  a classroom which in turn devoted professional discussion time to what good formative practice looks like/sounds like and developing how it can be added to a child e-journal.

Through our teacher questionnaire we are collecting responses and comparing those with the ones gained from the previous benchmark questionnaire.

We particularly would like to focus on opportunities teachers create in the classroom and outside the classroom to engage in the e-journal for their students and any strategies they have developed.

Student Voice Data

Student voice will be taken directly from Ultranet in the form of recorded comments which students have left on their own and others portfolios.

This may take the form of a social comment or perhaps a comment made on their own portfolio or another students about an extract of learning which has been posted onto ultranet.

This will enable us to see how the students perceive the site and its purpose by the comments they leave.

Research and Professional Readings

Dr Helen Barrett, electronicportfolios and digital story-telling


Directions for Assessment in New Zealand on TKI

MOE Guidelines to e-portfolios



JISC e-portfolio Key Resources



Editure Celebrating Learning eportfolios


Becta Impact Study of e-portfolios on learning


Futured - E-portfolios for the Assessment of Learning


Decided Actions

Term 2, Week 4 - 8

  • Formulate Questionnaire for Students, Teachers and Parents seperately.
  • Set time limit for return
  • Collate data
  • Analyse Data Trends and Relationships
  • Report back to Leadership Team
  • Formulate next stage of research in conjunction with school directions


Term 2, Week 9 - 11

  • Formulate new student questionnaire to explore their home use of digital technology.
  • Further analyze data, comparing and contrasting with 2010 results.

Term 3, Week 1 - 5

  • Circulate Questionnaires
  • Set time limit for return
  • Collate data
  • Analyse Data Trends and Relationships
  • Report back to Leadership Team

Week 6 - 10

  • Meet with Jo Wilson, Dave Winter and Tania Thompson to discuss journey so far and next steps.

Term 4

  • Reorganise and Prioritise VLN site
  • Create presenation for Kura Hakari
  • Interview Middle School Teachers
  • Interview Middle School Students
  • Investigate buddies


Reseach Data Findings:

*Please read the presentation which summarises the findings and changes made from our 2010 action research.

cluster presentation.key  ( Mac Compatible)

Cluster Presentation.ppt  (PC Compatible)


2011 Questionnaire:

Data Results analysis of trends - (Comparison with 2010 questionnaire results).

We purposely kept the wording and questions very similar to the 2010 questionnaire involving the same-targeted groups.

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Students

We wanted to be able to look at any trends and relationships, which may have shifted from our original questionnaire taken 12 months ago.

Student view




If you wish to view the full data click on the below links.

2011 Questionnaire 1 PC

2011 Questionnaire 1 MAC

Next steps based on our findings…


We want to find out more from our students. We intend to questionnaire again this term to clarify exactly what students do in their own time on line/digitally. We feel that this data will give us a clearer direction in our research.


Findings from the student questionnaire

2011 Questionnaire 2 MAC

2011 Questionnaire 2 PC

So what?...

What did the information and data tell us?

The middle school students are more engaged with their e-journals that the both the juniors and seniors generally.

The juniors use the games on their school pages as their main part of the site.

The seniors favour the option to chat to buddies, but when making and reading comments at home we found that the students are not contributing to their buddies page with feed back on their learning.  

It was surprising how many did not know the basics of getting on the site, for example, knowing their password, locating class page or their portfolio. This was most surprising in the seniors as some have had an e-Journal for three years therefore we felt would of been more than competent at this job.

The weakest area we found in student engagement was the  uploading of pictures and videos both at school and at home. This refers particularly to illustrating examples of the student’s own learning through video and pictures. This could be due to not making time in school or not having the opportunity or even perhaps down to student knowledge of how to do so.


Now what?..

Some potential next steps to increase student engagement in four areas.

1) Leaving comments for my buddy, which gives them some feedback from my learning to help them improve theirs.

2) Working with students to encourage them to sharing of learning, focusing on uploading more about themselves using videos and pictures both at school and at home.

3) Showing and working with students who do not know their password or how to log on.

4) Interview some of the middle school teachers on some successful strategies they have used to encourage student engagement and getting the basics right.




What tools they use to show their learning?  Well the above is a diagram of all the student friendly web2 tools that are compatible with our eJournals, hosted by eJournals.  ( Exact details of these programmes are outside of this particular research but can easily be accessed at https://sites.google.com/site/webtoolsbox/  )


Our results showed that our middle students have more buddies and write more comments.  So, we asked 4 students to map out their buddies and see how they connected up.  This showed that alot of our students, within classes but also across the school, are very connected.  This shows how successfull the buddy system truly is.



 Teacher Voice


Terri Hokianga is one of our successful Year 4 teacher who is engaging students in their e-Journals.  Here she talks about her successes and her hopes for the future. 








  • Jo Wilson


    Thank you for sharing this reflection as I have been interested in following your school's journey with ePortfolios after the presentation you and Mike at the Kura Hakari day for the Connected Cluster day last year.

    I will look forward to seeing the evidence from this current Action Research project