A critical examination of the growth and development of portfolios within Higher Education and their value in the development and application for students learning and assessment and providing evidence of student learning.
The portfolio is a collection of student’s work that is purposefully performed to provide evidence of the student’s efforts, progress or achievement in a given area or areas. This bundle of evidence must include the student participation in the selection of the contents, the guidelines for selection, and the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection.(Tochel et al., 2009a),(“ePortfolios | Towards Open Education,” n.d.)
So therefore the portfolio is a source of evidence from which judgement of achievement can be made as a form of an assessment of learning. This can be in the form of formative assessment as part of the process of learning and if learning is occurring and provide remedial measures and feedback. It can also be utilised as a summative assessment. It would include achievements and results from authentic tasks, performance assessment, and conventional tests and even work examples. It is documentation of evidence over an extended period of time and therefore is a much more authentic form of assessing learning.(Tochel et al., 2009b)
When portfolios were originally introduced in education as instruments for authentic assessment, they closely resembled the portfolios of architects and artists, as a portable case for keeping, usually without folding, loose sheets of papers, drawings or photographs. Building on the principle of triangulation all kinds of evidence can be brought together in those portfolios that, in combination, give the possibility to draw valid conclusions about competence.(Tochel et al., 2009a).
E portfolios are therefore merely a portfolio that has been compiled electronically and usually on a website.(“ePortfolios | Towards Open Education,” n.d.) . There has been a drive for the growth of e portfolios. According to Clark and Eynon,, the 4 major ones are
1. is pedagogical change in higher education, a growing interest in student-centered active learning
2. the dynamism of digital communication
3. pressure for increased accountability in higher education
4. Increasing fluidity in employment and education.
(Clark & Eynon, 2009)
The growing body of research in e portfolio and the impetus from the Association for authentic experiential and evidence based learning(AAEBL) has placed pressure on many institutions to go along a path of the portfolio as an evidence of learning.(Kahn, 2014). According to Clark and Eynon, “The growth of e-portfolio use is directly related to its elasticity, to the diversity of purposes for which it can be used, including enriched learning and improved career development, transfer, and assessment.”(Clark & Eynon, 2009)p19. They conclude that the three factors that will shape the growth and development of e portfolios are:-
• how the web 2.0 and social networking technology will evolve in the future
• the conflict between learning and assessment focus
• the impact of international growth
E portfolios has the potential to enhance teaching, learning and assessment. They can support
• student advisement and career preparation
• student or a alumni credential documentation
• sharing of teaching philosophy and practices
• Department and programmed self studies and
• institutional and programme accreditation process
The challenges of e-portfolio have been the following:-
• its authenticity as the students work
• the volume of space required as materials added on for every student year by year
• ownership of the e portfolio
• role of institutions in promoting and supporting the e-portfolio
• the validity and reliability of the portfolio assessment
• incorporating critical reflection in the design and implementation of the portfolios
(Tochel et al., 2009b)
There has been a call for more empirical research on the effectiveness of e-portfolio practices. It should also include measures in which student outcomes have been impacted as a result of the use of the portfolios. Specific areas that need to be looked into would be the assessment of multimedia artefacts that are produced in E portfolios. Further understanding is required in the role of each portfolios in producing meta high impact practices among students.(Kahn, 2014)
There are three types of portfolios: developmental, assessment and showcase:
Developmental Portfolios: demonstrate the advancement and development of student skills over a period of time. Developmental portfolios are considered works-in-progress and include both self-assessment and reflection/feedback elements. The primary purpose is to provide communication between students and faculty.
Assessment Portfolios: demonstrate student competence and skill for well-defined areas. These may be end-of-course or program assessments primarily for evaluating student performance. The primary purpose is to evaluate student competency as defined by program standards and outcomes.
Showcase Portfolios: demonstrate exemplary work and student skills. This type of portfolio is created at the end of a program to highlight the quality of student work. Students typically show this portfolio to potential employers to gain employment at the end of a degree program.
Hybrids: Most portfolios are hybrids of the three types of portfolios listed above. Self-reflection is an important component of electronic portfolio development without which, they will not gain from the rich learning experience that e-portfolio development can provide.
E-portfolios provides an environment in which students/trainees/knowledge worker can collect, select, reflect upon, build, and publish a digital archive of their activity work. (Van Tartwijk & Driessen, 2009)(Kahn, 2014)(Eynon, Gambino, & Török, 2014)
E-portfolios are practices more than technologies and not a panacea for all assessment needs. The value of e-portfolios is dependent on inclusive planning—ensuring all stakeholders in education are connected.(Bass, 2014). They provide a mechanism for integrated learning at the same time allowing integration of institutional measures of learning. E portfolios also provides a means of for clarifying and affirming the institutional values.(Bass, 2014)
These should be designed and embedded in the curriculum so that they motivate the user to use and allow for the complete ease of use of all the functionalities. To be effective in medical education they need to be able to perform these functions as per the report from Imperial Medical School in UK:-
1. To assess students against specified learning objectives.
2. To record clinical observations and practice.
3. To map clinical observations with clinical skills.
4. To map clinical observations and skills to learning outcomes.
5. To help student analyse patterns in their own learning.
6. To measure against state-based standards.
7. To support reflective practice.
Technically for it to be effective it needs to be
1. Value-added to student learning.
2. Infrastructure costs: integration, sustainability (cost-effectiveness).
3. Maintenance and support costs.
4. Ease of use, including ability to transfer grades to and from an LMS into the e-portfolio system.
5. Choice of back-end technology and tools.
6. Ownership of the artefacts and final product.
7. How the data will be managed and user-support required.
8. Setup, maintenance and upgrade costs (especially costs of maintaining space for students over the life of their studies and for some time after graduation).
It also need to be able to record and store the following
1. Actual marks/grades
2. Detailed tabulation of practical training/clinical skills etc. against a matrix.
3. Reflective work (e.g. blogs, comments on assessments, responses to peer mentor, or faculty reviews).
4. Presentation of particular achievements, e.g. graphic designs, artwork, creative writing.
5. Video/audio of student-patient interactions with reflective commentary.
6. Peer reviews of joint projects.
7. Faculty feedback on any of the above. "E-PORTFOLIOS EVALUATION REPORT." (2009)
E portfolios in practice in higher education
The requirements of the general medical Council in the United Kingdom for the revalidation of practising doctors required the maintenance of evidence of good medical practice. This consists of collecting evidence in 4 domains, which included:-
Knowledge skills and performance,
Safety and quality, and the
Domain of maintaining trusts.
Junior doctors are required to maintain an E PORTFOLIO as evidence for their revalidation requirements of the general medical Council United Kingdom, which can be considered as a form of formative assessment of my continuous learning. (Vance et al., 2013) It shows the process of learning through reflection, through understanding through errors and successes. It shows the journey of learning rather than the endpoint which would be a summative assessment. Assessment is in the form of the knowledge testing through recall like an exit examination, be either multiple choice or assignments, look at an endpoint rather than the whole process of learning. Portfolio allows for formative assessment and over an extended period of time showing evidence of deep learning and of a behaviour of self-directed and lifelong learning. The key process is the provision of evidence by reﬂecting upon the learning that has taken place.(Kitchen, 2012)
So the portfolio not only documents achievement but also self-evaluation and also analyses a learning process through analysis of the reflections that are maintained. It also collects evidence when failure has occurred and see whether learning has occurred in those instances. It assesses the role of metacognition of learning by showing how, when, who, where and why, one has learnt. It would be difficult to establish portfolios as a summative assessment as it would be expensive in terms of time and resource management and there may be issues of reliability in terms of grading and standards. However this can be overcome by ensuring assessors have exemplar to work with and comprehensive and robust rubrics for grading.(Chen, Mou-Te Chang, Chen, Huang, & Chen, 2012)
Keeping this portfolio has been assisted by having a clear purpose of this. For the doctors in the UK, this portfolio is part of the process of revalidation. So the evidence that are collected is clear and well defined. The time required to maintain this portfolio has been made easy by the use of electronic tools like Evernote, LinkedIn and Twitter and the use of ubiquitous devices. The learner is assisted by the clearly defined domains required by the general medical Council in helping them choose the content that is needed to maintain their portfolio. The good medical practice guidelines that were issued by the general medical Council in 2013 establish clear performance indicators that are required to be met in the evidence.
In a recent review of the use of the portfolios by the foundation doctors in the United Kingdom showed Trainees remain unconvinced about the educational value of the e-portfolio (Vance et al., 2013). They conclude that considerable practical difficulties in maintaining and implementing the key portfolio in a busy clinical setting and explain the persisting negative perception of e-portfolios among junior doctors in the United Kingdom.
Bass, R. (2014). The Next Whole Thing in Higher Education. Peer Review, 16(1), 1–2.
Chen, M.-Y., Mou-Te Chang, F., Chen, C.-C., Huang, M.-J., & Chen, J.-W. (2012). Why do individuals use e-portfolios? Educational Technology & Society, 15(4), 114–125.
Clark, J. E., & Eynon, B. (2009). E-portfolios at 2.0-Surveying the Field. Peer Review, 11(1), 18–23.
ePortfolios | Towards Open Education. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bcopened.org/resources/eportfolios/
Eynon, B., Gambino, L. M., & Török, J. (2014). Completion, Quality, and Change: The Difference E-Portfolios Make. Peer Review, 16(1), 1–11.
Kahn, S. (2014). E-Portfolios: A Look at Where We’ve Been, Where We Are Now, and Where We’re (Possibly) Going. Peer Review, 16(1), 1–6.
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Tochel, C., Haig, A., Hesketh, A., Cadzow, A., Beggs, K., Colthart, I., & Peacock, H. (2009b). The effectiveness of portfolios for post-graduate assessment and education: BEME Guide No 12. Medical Teacher, 31(4), 299–318. doi:10.1080/01421590902883056
Toro-Troconis, Maria, Ms, and Ashish Toro-Troconis(2009). "E-PORTFOLIOS EVALUATION REPORT." Http://www1.imperial.ac.uk/resources/E02C5058-A25E-4002-AAB1-A1588C364849/. Imperial College, retrieved 1 June 2014.
Van Tartwijk, J., & Driessen, E. W. (2009). Portfolios for assessment and learning: AMEE Guide no. 45. Medical Teacher, 31(9), 790–801. doi:10.1080/01421590903139201
Vance, G., Williamson, A., Frearson, R., O’Connor, N., Davison, J., Steele, C., & Burford, B. (2013). Evaluation of an established learning portfolio. Clinical Teacher, 10(1), 21.