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Portfolios. By: Kristina Kearns. Table of Contents. Introduction Background Students Example Bibliography. Introduction.

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By: Kristina Kearns

table of contents
Table of Contents







Diane Hart defines a portfolio as "a container that holds evidence of an individual\'s skills, ideas, interests, and accomplishments." Students become active learners when they assume ownership of their learning. they take an active role in the decision making process and the classroom becomes student-centered rather than teacher-centered. Portfolios allow teachers, students, and parents the opportunity to view a collection of the students work over time and provide authentic assessment. New instructional approaches emphasize the students role in understanding what, why, and how they are doing have increased the value of portfolios and appreciation of portfolios as an assessment tool for classroom based performance(Gibbs).

  • Portfolios can be influenced by Howard Gardner\'s theory of multiple intelligences to showcase the different learning experiences students have throughout a school year or even over many school years.
  • In a study by Juniewicz the large majority of teachers, students, and parents reported the use of portfolios in student-led conferences was effective in promoting the real world skills of responsibility, reflection, self-assessment, and goal-setting. National, state, and local standards could help to provide a framework to focus the portfolio process on developing the life-long skills students need in the real world.
  • Authentic assessment is based on constructivist theories of learning. Constructivist theorists include Jean Piaget, John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, and many more.

Portfolios can be used with any age of students in any grade level. Younger students need more help and guidelines to create their portfolio as older students could be given more responsibility. Portfolios can be used throughout one school year or continued on throughout many years.

Portfolios are "going green" by going electronic. Electronic portfolios are web based collections of a students work. There is no single correct way to develop a student portfolio and any program can be used when creating documents for it. Portfolios should be easy to navigate and creative. They allow children to play a major role in the assessment of their own learning (Hebert).

It is important to clearly state the objectives, requirements, and expectations of the portfolio. You do not have to grade the portfolio itself because most the items included have already been given a grade. Once again, remember to be open to what is included in the portfolio and allow students to be creative.

Parents need to be fully informed about portfolios at the beginning of the year. An explanation of why we feel they are important, how they will be used by teacher and student, how they are a part of the curriculum, and how they provide assessment are key points to be discussed. Have students present their working portfolios to their parents at conference time in the fall and then again throughout the school year.


I will be teaching first and second grade next year. My portfolios will be paper-based instead of electronic because of the age level of my students. A letter detailing the importance of portfolios along with my expectations of them will be sent home at the beginning of the school year. Hanging file folders and a storage box will be used to gather and organize the student’s work. Students will be allowed to select certain work that they are especially proud of to keep in their portfolio. I will also select certain work for them to keep as well. Students will be expected to support their reasoning for including the items in their portfolio. The portfolios will be shared with parents at conference time and sent home at the end of the school year.

  • Diehm, C. (2004). From worn-out to web-based: Better student portfolios. Phi Delta Kappan.
  • Gibbs, H. J. (2004). Student portfolios: Documentingsuccess. Techniques.
  • Hart, D. (1994). Authentic Assessment: A Handbook for Educators. Menlo Park, CA; Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
  • Hebert, E. A. (n.d.). Lessons learned about student portfolios.
  • Juniewicz, K. (2003). Student portfolios with a purpose. The Clearing House, 77(2), 73-77.