Creating a porfolio of work (whether electronically or paper-based) is very time consuming for a part-time or freelance tutor. In parallel, reading, evaluating and giving feedback on a portfolio is very time-consuming for a mentor or a line/service manager. As a means of providing 'evidence' for quality assurance or Continuing Professional Development for part-time or freelance tutors, I believe that a portfolio of work is therefore not viable. I believe that observation of a 1:1 session (real time or video recorded) is the most appropriate means for the line/service manager to assure quality (with the added value of what he/she can learn, as a fellow-practitioner, from this observation), and for the part-time or freelance tutor to gain valuable input into his/her practice with a view to achieving continuous professional development.
During the time I headed up and taught on the PG Cert in Adult Dyslexia Support (between 1999 and 2010 - Edge Hill University, University of Chester, Middlesex University) I had the experience of using observation for teaching and professional development, as well as for assessment. On this course (which was initially face to face and eventually fully distance and online) participants had to create a paper-based portfolio based on their work placement of 20 hours of 1:1 support. In these, participants were required to summarise what they did in each session, justify their choice of strategies and reflect on their effectiveness (much like I did for the Liz Ahrends award). In addition, they were required to observe an experienced tutor doing a 1:1 session and to observe a peer on the course, and write an observation report. They were also required to be observed on two occasions for formative assessment.
So, based on the teaching experience I've described and on the experience of putting this portfolio together in the past year, I can say without reservation that, as a teacher and fellow-professional, observation followed by constructive feedback/feedforward provides THE richest professional development opportunity. Much as participants on the course described above might have disliked being watched or video recorded in action, in my view (and supported by feedback from participants) they learned more from the feedback/feedforward received on being observed than from most of the other teaching on the course. In the same way, and recognising that many colleagues do not like being observed or video recorded in action for observation purposes, I believe that using observation is likely to be the most effecient and cost-effective way of achieving quality assurance and continuing professional development. Preparation for being observed is important and there's more on this below.
I analysed and chunked the ADSHE 7 principles into a series of evaluative questions, which proved a useful framework for critical self-reflection and for student evaluation. I would suggest that such a document could form the framework on which to base observations so that the focus of the observation is on the PROCESS (what did I do, why did I do that, and could I do it differently or more effectively? did I apply the 7 ADSHE principles?), NOT on the PRODUCT (did I achieve the perfect session? Did I pass the test?). In this way, the observation process becomes a tool for the development of practice and of strategies, both for the observer and for the observee.
The observation itself could be live or video recorded but in either case, I would strongly recommend that preparation for observation should be integral to the process. From teaching experience, I believe that the best preparation for being observed is doing an observation, using the same criteria that will be applied by the person observing you.
VERY importantly, for this process to be valued and valuable to all parties concerned, I recommend that freelance/part-time tutors be paid for 2 hours of CPD (?annually) which is just about enough time for preparation, recording and getting feedback/feedforward.
Finally, I know from experience that setting up and operating the technology side of video recording a 1:1 session can be much more problematic than the session itself, so strongly recommend that freelance/part-time tutors are given dedicated technical support to facilitate this process.