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Showcase vs. Developmental Portfolios: best work vs. evidence of growth

Workload and storage demands for large programs can be overwhelming!

Some Questions to Answer Before Assigning Portfolios

1.

What is the purpose of the requirement–to document student learning, to demonstrate student development, to learn about students’ reflections on their learning, to create a document useful to students, to help students grow through personal reflection on their personal goals?

2.

When and how will students be told about the requirement, including what materials they need to collect or to produce for it?

3.

Will the portfolios be used developmentally or will they be submitted only as students near graduation?

4.

Will portfolios be showcase or developmental?

5.

Are there minimum and maximum lengths or sizes for portfolios?

6.

Who will decide which materials will be included in portfolios–faculty or students?

7.

What elements will be required in the portfolio–evidence only from courses in the discipline, other types of evidence, evidence directly tied to learning outcomes, previously graded products or clean copies?

8.

Will students be graded on the portfolios? If so, how and by whom?

9.

How will the portfolios be assessed to evaluate and improve the program?

10.

What can be done for students who have inadequate evidence through no fault of their own?

11.

What will motivate students to take the portfolio assignment seriously?

12.

How will the portfolio be submitted–hard copy or electronic copy?

13.

Who “owns” the portfolios–students or the program?

14.

Who has access to the portfolios and for what purposes?

15.

How will student privacy and confidentiality be protected?

Portfolio Strengths and Weaknesses

Potential Strengths

Potential Weaknesses

Can provide direct evidence of student mastery of learning outcomes.

Students are encouraged to take responsibility for and pride in their learning.

Students may become more aware of their own academic growth.

Can be used for developmental assessment and can be integrated into the advising process to individualize student planning.

Can help faculty identify curriculum gaps, lack of alignment with outcomes.

Students can use portfolios and the portfolio process to prepare for graduate school or career applications.

The evaluation process should directly lead faculty into discussions of student learning, curriculum, pedagogy, and student support services.

Requires faculty time to prepare the portfolio assignment and assist students as they prepare them.

Requires faculty analysis and, if graded, faculty time to assign grades.

May be difficult to motivate students to take the task seriously.

May be more difficult for transfer students to assemble the portfolio if they haven’t saved relevant materials.

Students may refrain from criticizing the program if their portfolio is graded or if their names will be associated with portfolios during the review.

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