Green Squiggly Lines:

Electronic Portfolios: Macro-level Reading, Responding, and Evaluating

For our purposes, it is worth noting the Online Learning Record's insistence on the scientific and posivistist ideas of "observation" and "data gathering." The value of these observations and data are not simply taken as an end in and of themselves. In the Online Learning Record, the descriptive actions of observation and data gathering are then subjected to interpretation and public scrutiny. The Online Learning Record attempts to incorporate the subjectivities of other observers in the judgment of a student's electronic portfolio. This use of observation through community interaction is intended to subvert critiques of the system as positivist and neo-Aristotelian. By presenting the observations as contextualized and distributed, Syverson believes that the Online Learning Record "refutes the reductionism of theoretical approaches that depend on individualist assumptions about readers, writers, and texts" (p. 182). However, she also argues the perspective behind the Online Learning Record "refutes the opposite form of reductionism, which implies that writing situations are so culturally, historically, and socially contingent that each is unique and incomparable" (182). The logic behind Syverson's Online Learning Record parallels the logic behind Barbara Herrnstein Smith's argument that value judgments are placed "among the most fundamental forms of social communication and also among the most primitive benefits of social interaction" (p. 96). However, the reliance of the Online Learning Record on "observation" as a tool to "gather data" returns us to the problems of the objectivity in the scientific method.