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What do you consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of this form of assessment?

Read the text on portfolio assessment and answer the following questions:

What do you consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of this form of assessment?
Is portfolio assessment suitable for foreign language learners in your opinion?
What age group / language level / learning situation would portfolio assessment be most suitable for?
What would you encourage your students to include in their portfolio if you decided to use it as a form of assessment?

Portfolio Assessment

Portfolio assessment provides a body of student workessentially, a portfolio that can be used to appraise student performance over time.

Portfolio assessment ranges from portfolios that demonstrate the students best work to an expanded student record that holds a full representation of the students work, from math equations to essays on literature. There has been some confusion in the field as to who the portfolio is being kept for. For example, in some cases, student portfolios serve as a replacement for the high school diploma or transcript.

The disadvantage of portfolios is that theyre not as quick and easy to evaluate, plus theyre hard to rank, as with a grade or score. Because portfolios are qualitative, many teachers find them difficult to use as a determinant of a students skills. Often, teachers would rather see a quantitative demonstration of a students best skills and work.

Some schools create portfolios that serve as a representative sample of a students work, showing the range of performance and experience Other schools want to use portfolios as an assessment tool to provide an alternative to standardized or teacher testing.

In some schools there has been much discussion on who owns the portfolio, the student or the school? Ownership implies who gets to decide what goes into the portfolio, where the portfolio is stored, and what happens to the portfolio after graduation.

Lets look at the implications portfolios have on the following elements of education:

CurriculumSome people believe that using portfolios will enable teachers to broaden their curriculum to include areas they traditionally could not assess with standardized testing. How well this works depends on how much a curriculum is developed to the test, in other words, how much curriculum is geared towards achieving high test scores rather than learning for learnings sake.
InstructionPortfolio assessment appears to compliment a teachers use of instructional strategies centered around teamwork, projects, and applied learning. Portfolios are also compatible with more individualized instruction, as well as strategies focused on different learning styles.
AssessmentA portfolio can be used as an assessment tool. External assessorsparents, employers, evaluation panels, and so oncan benefit from them. Teachers can also utilize them to judge student performance. Plus, students can use their own portfolios for self-assessment and reflection.

[Written by On Purpose Associates. Adapted from:]