Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Use and Assessment of Portfolios

I've written about portfolios before, and I like the idea of freeing them from closed garden systems that reside on university servers.  An article in Campus Technology by Trent Batson echos this, asking if portfolio evidence is useful.  The author questions the hows and whys of assessing these ungainly, complex, but authentic, records of student work, and suggests:
One approach is to make the portfolio (the collection itself, not the technology), the project of the course and then to make a capstone portfolio a requirement for graduation. This would mean that the student herself would continually re-craft and re-comment on the collection. The collection would be winnowed down, the student would write a summary of achievement and link to examples within the portfolio collection itself to support claims about achievement. 
 He's in favor of reducing complexity to facilitate understanding, arguing that:
A large collection of undifferentiated work over 2 years or 4 years or more is not of much use to anyone. It is like the boxes of photos and letters and clippings out of which people make scrapbooks--the scrapbook (ideally) creates some coherence, selects work that is representative, and therefore conveys a message. This is the process for capstone portfolios: constantly building a student’s academic identity over time by re-visiting and re-working the portfolio collection.
 This is an idea worth refining.

Here's another article in Campus Technology that is worth checking out on classroom design.

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