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Portfolio Assessment

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Portfolio Assessment

Perhaps the most prominent form of alternative assessment in use today is the student portfolio. A portfolio can be described as a “purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas of the curriculum.” Key elements of the portfolio include evidence of students’ choosing the contents of their own portfolio, specific criteria for the selection and assessment of student work, and clear evidence that the student has reflected on his or her work (Chriest & Maher, n.d.). Portfolios have been proven an effective means of student assessment in many areas of schooling, from preschool all the way through post-graduate work. Portfolio assessment has also been rendered effective in many business settings to determine the value of an employee.

The advantages of portfolio assessment are many. Foremost, portfolios, when compared to written testing, provide teachers with a more complete picture of a student’s progress. Portfolios exhibit a student’s ability to problem solve and to reflect on the work that he has done. They also give students the opportunity to tangibly track their progress in a class. When implemented, portfolios can also encourage a school system to work towards a more “collaborative evaluation environment” (Curry, 2000). This indicates that the portfolios are not only tools for teachers to assess a student’s progress, but also for administrators to monitor a teacher’s classroom management.

Disadvantages of portfolio assessment also exist: in many studies, “students found that keeping a portfolio contributed little to their self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses and, in some cases, that it even reinforced weakn...

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This webpage lists other websites useful in alternative assessment. Resources are grouped by online location and subject.

UniServe Science. (2004). Alternative strategies for science teaching and assessment. Retrieved March 7, 2004 from

This is an excellent resource that lists and explains not only creative alternatives to written testing but also ways to reach every student with every style of learning. Strategies outlined include virtual field trips, collaborative work, and debates.

Worcester, T. (n.d.). Electronic portfolios. Retrieved April 14, 2004 from

This site contains information on electronic portfolios. Specifically, it includes reasons for considering, how to create, and assessment of electronic portfolios.

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