Portfolio assessment is an evaluation tool where students are normally given a series of tasks to complete at intervals throughout a module, to enable them to build up skills over time. Students usually present a portfolio to provide evidence to support how they can perform in particular roles or tasks. It allows for a more diverse demonstration of a student’s learning than, for example, an exam would show. Individual pieces can take any form: reflections on the students’ input into a seminar or online discussion; or a final video they have planned created over a number of weeks; etc.
Portfolios can be used as formative assessment, as they provide a good opportunity for regular feedback and reflection over the course, and can also be submitted at the end of a module for summative assessment. Portfolios can be a form of authentic assessment in that they can be closely aligned with what someone would experience in a work-based setting. A portfolio can contain a range of different media and materials, and can be hard copy or online as an e-portfolio.
Preparation time Student workload Marking time
Literacies and skills exhibited
Developing arguments, reflecting, evaluating and assessing
Working independently and working within a group
Being self-directed, managing time and tasks
Written communication and presentation skills
Researching, investigating, interpreting and organising information
- Video material
Portfolios can be very time consuming to mark; on a par with dissertation-sized assessment. However, that is a trade-off against the breadth and depth of learning that can be evidenced within the whole portfolio. Marking can be spread over a module, year or programme by splitting the assessments (formative and summative) up and assessing particular aspects or stages throughout: this also encourages students to develop their portfolio over time.
As discussed above, feedback is best given in stages throughout a module or programme: with tutors looking at drafts, or reviewing particular blog posts or texts. Such feedback might be picked up in tutorials or group meetings, through comments on the online platform, or in more traditional forms as written feedback sheets or 1:1 meetings. If feedback is properly planned throughout, the final submitted project and its mark should not be a surprise either to the student or to the member of staff.
Case studies on the role of e-portfolios in formative and summative assessment (Word document) 34 case studies covering a wide range of subject areas
Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload: Low Medium High