Sunday, February 21, 2010

Using Electronic Portfolios for Assessment

The conversation about electronic portfolios has been heating up over the years. Yolanda Abrencia from San Diego State University argues that e-portfolios are easy to store, easy to share, and easily enhanced with sound or video. I would agree this is true. This fall I helped my husband create his online tenure portfolio. This was the first tenure portfolio for Marian University done online. We thought the same thing as Professor Abrencia, especially the use of digital content. So we spent the fall uploading documents, evaluations, videos of classroom presentations and podcasts. Most of the committee appreciated the effort – especially the enhanced digital content.

Brebeuf Jesuit has casually dabbled in e-portfolios. The English Department is the main push for the technology. They wish to create documentation portfolios to hold student work as they progress through the semester. Some teachers are using our LMS to create documentation portfolios. The teacher creates a “folder” which only the teacher and student can see. The student uploads works in progress, the teacher comments using tablet inking features, the student reflects and modifies work. What we do not like about this system is twofold: one, only the student and the teacher can see the portfolio and two, no digital content can be added (only text).

In light of the AP Comparative Government class I am working with for this Capstone, what kind of portfolio would work? Interesting question. The class is completely focused on the summative assessment of the AP exam. Sadly, this exam is still a traditional paper and pencil event. That said, students still need practice in creating essays that synthesize content learned into cohesive argument. Dr. Helen Barrett discussed two types of portfolios, formative and summative. She writes that summative portfolios contain strictly dictated elements with clear learning objective used for end of course assessment. I don’t think that’s what I am looking for with this class – we already have a summative assessment looming!

Dr. Barrett continues with a more interesting thought – the formative portfolio. She defines a formative portfolio as student driven. The student chooses what elements to incorporate to showcase what they’ve succeed in learning. The assessments are based on the reflective properties of the portfolio, not to the exclusion of specific content, but open to all learned elements. This is the type of portfolio I would like to see for an AP Comparative Government class. This also fits with the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm which calls us as Jesuit educators to look at teaching and knowing the whole person – not just the state standards. A formative portfolio would allow students to share a part of themselves and highlight their individual strengths.


Abrenica, Yolanda. Electronic Portfolios. Retrieved from

Barrett, Helen C. Using Electronic Portfolios for Classroom Assessment. Connected Newsletter, October 2006. Vol 13, No 2, pp. 4-6. Retrieved from via TeacherTap: Electronic Portfolios: Students, Teachers, and LifeLong Learners. Retrieved from

No comments:

Post a Comment