Portfolio Project 2001
Submitted by Beth Gordon Klingner
This past fall semester, Dr. Linda Anstendig, Professor of English and Communications and Director of Writing, PLV and Beth Gordon Klingner, Director of Instructional Technology and Adjunct Instructor in English and Communications [http://www.pace.edu/dyson/academics/litcomplv/], piloted a portfolio project involving approximately 60 first year students in the Discovery program. Professor Patti Sehulster and Dr. Doretta Cornell of the English and Communications department had some experience using portfolio assessment before and agreed to participate in this pilot project. The goals of the project, funded by President Caputo’s Learning Assessment Grant, were the following:
A portfolio is a collection of work with some type of reflective component. According to Nedra Reynolds (2000), there are three essential elements in an assessment portfolio: choice, variety, and reflection. Students are given the freedom to choose how to assemble their own portfolios, as well as which pieces of writing to include. The portfolio also allows for greater variety than a single paper or exam allows when evaluating students’ achievements. Portfolio assessment can be a more accurate measure of student progress because it is not limited to one particular assignment. The reflection or self-assessment component is valuable because it forces students to actively review their own learning process.
The reasoning behind implementing portfolio assessment, rather than another type of assessment, is because of more recent research on learning styles and learning outcomes. As the college population continues to grow more diverse, faculty need to recognize that students have a variety of learning style preferences. With a better understanding of how learning style preferences relate to learning outcomes, faculty members will be able to make changes in their teaching methods, develop a greater repertoire of pedagogical strategies, deal with a more diverse student population, and make better decisions about how to integrate technology into the curriculum. The portfolio assessment process allows students to take a more active role in their learning process by requiring them to track their writing and revision progress over time, rather than simply submitting a paper for a grade. Building the portfolio, either in traditional or electronic format, allows students to demonstrate their strengths. For example, a visual learner may include a graphic or video component in his or her portfolio.
Students involved in this project were given the option to develop an electronic portfolio using university web space that is available for all Pace students. Dhal Anglada and Joe Seijo from the Center for Instructional Technologies [http://www.pace.edu/cit], created a web site to assist students with the basics of creating a web page and using FTP. [http://www.pace.edu/cit/e-portfolio/] In addition, Dhal and Joe assisted in workshops where students and faculty members actually created a mock web page and used FTP to upload a page to the web.
At the end of the semester, the students and faculty members completed surveys about their experiences with paper or electronic portfolios. After all of the portfolios were submitted, 2 English professors served as outside evaluators, reading randomly selected portfolios, and holistically assessing the quality of student writing. In the Spring 2002 semester, all faculty teaching English 102 will be required to use portfolio assessment.
Although the pilot for this project is in the English and Communications area, portfolio assessment does not only apply to writing courses. Faculty in all disciplines may want to consider taking a portfolio approach. If anyone is interested in learning more about portfolio assessment, please contact Linda Anstendig at firstname.lastname@example.org or Beth Gordon Klingner at email@example.com.