A collection of evidence combined with student reflections to demonstrate mastery of a give set of concepts

Student portfolios are a collection of evidence, prepared by the student, to demonstrate mastery, comprehension, application, and synthesis of a given set of concepts. To create a high-quality portfolio, students must organize, synthesize, and clearly describe their achievements and effectively communicate what they have learned.  A unique aspect of a successful portfolio is that it also contains explicit statements of self-reflection. Statements accompanying each item describe how the student went about mastering the material, why the presented piece of evidence demonstrates mastery, and why mastery of such material is relevant to contexts outside the classroom. It is this self-reflection that makes a portfolio much more valuable than a folder of student-selected work.

Type of assessment

Summative assessment measures a student’s achievement at the end of a unit or course.  It provides evidence of what students learned, whether curriculum outcomes have been met and the degree to which they were attained. 

How to Use

1. Carefully construct and distribute overarching learning objectives for the portfolio.

2. Ask students to collect evidence across the course to demonstrate mastery of each of the indicated learning objectives.

3. Indicate that each piece of evidence must be clearly labelled as to which objective the evidence relates to.

4. Ask students to accompany each piece of evidence with a written paragraph of rationale and a separate written paragraph of self-reflection.

5. Emphasize to students that it is their responsibility to clearly demonstrate mastery of the intended learning objectives.

When to Use

Portfolios are especially useful for older students to encourage them to take responsibility for evidencing their own learning, and reflecting effectively on their progress.  They also engage students from the beginning until the end of their learning process.

References and additional information

Technique instructions adapted from: http://www.flaguide.org/cat/portfolios/portfolios7.php.

Regier, Natalie (2012) Book Three: Summative Assessment – 50 Ways to Gather Evidence of Student Learning. Regier Educational Resources.  Available from https://gssdelementarymath.wikispaces.co

Summative assessment
Over multiple sessions