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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Portfolio Assessment in the 21st Century

Portfolios are a great assessment tool to use in the classroom as an alternative to more traditional forms of educational testing. In general, a portfolio is a systematic collection of one’s work that can be used for a number of purposes. In the classroom, teachers can use portfolios to document student progress, display student accomplishments, and evaluate student development over time. In addition to this, portfolio assessments provide teachers with the opportunity to measure each student’s achievement while allowing for individual differences. Moreover, teachers can also foster students’ self-evaluation skills by encouraging them to reflect on and assess their own progress and accomplishments. Students will be able to see improvements through stages of growth and learn the importance of self-evaluation for future endeavors.

As an educator in today’s technologically advanced society, I have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to prepare students for success in the 21st century. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website, “People in the 21st century live in a technology and media-suffused environment, marked by access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools, and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. To be effective in the 21st century, citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills related to information, media and technology.” Students in today’s modern classrooms are digital learners growing up in a world that is constantly changing and developing by the minute. However, teachers are still criticized for their lack of technology usage in the classroom. Perhaps this is the reason why “so many of today’s students feel they have to power down and feel disconnected when they come to school” (Schrum and Levin, 2009, p. 29).

One of the ways that teachers can prepare students for the 21st century and use technology to augment learning is by incorporating electronic portfolios into the curriculum. Usually referred to as e-portfolios, electronic and digital portfolios are a great way to document and showcase student progress and learning. Students can collect, reflect on, and store their work digitally, so that it is easy to access, organize, update, and share their accomplishments with teachers, parents, and other students. Electronic portfolios can communicate evidence of student learning in a variety of curriculum areas, and offer a number of advantages for both teachers and students. For example, when creating these digital portfolios, students gain a sense of personal ownership regarding their work. They are not only responsible for keeping a collection of their work, but they also take part in structuring and organizing their portfolio. Additionally, digital portfolios promote student creativity. They encourage students to emphasize the aspects of a concept most relevant to them in meaningful ways, while placing the responsibility of demonstrating knowledge and integration across concepts on the students. Furthermore, the whole system of constructing a portfolio has real world characteristics. For example, when interviewing for jobs, interviewees use portfolios everyday: teachers, artists, models, etc. I have even created my own portfolio!

Digital portfolios create an elaborate and detailed story of students’ efforts, progress, and achievement throughout the year. Teachers can choose from a variety of different resources online if they decide to use electronic portfolios in their classrooms. Some examples of these online resources are listed below.


  1. I really like the idea of portfolios. My cooperating teacher during student teaching had his students create portfolios at the end of the year. One of my favorite things about creating a portfolio is the chance for students to really be self-reflective and see how they have changed and progressed from the beginning of the year, I think that is really helpful for students to see their accomplishments in that way. I like the idea of having an electronic portfolio because it would cut down on all the papers for one thing. During my student teaching the folders we had for each student in the classroom were already quickly getting filled up and it was only halfway through the school year. Having everything electronically would be so much easier to keep everything in one place without losing it and it would be easier to organize. Plus with an electronic portfolio students can add other things besides just papers to it, they can add videos they created, songs they recorded and pictures as well, which can make it an even more well rounded experience.

  2. Thanks for this resource. I've added to my list for effective use of e-Portfolios. By any chance do you have links to portfolio examples? Thanks again. http://openingpaths.org/blog/2014/08/20-e-portfolio-resources/