When faculty think of student assessment, do they think in terms of performance in a course or program, or of grading stacks of exams and papers? Do students think in terms of an opportunity to exhibit accumulated knowledge, or of the pressure of their careers riding on one exam?
Have you ever thought of electronic portfolios when you think of assessment? Campus Technology (Sept.2006) reports on current advances in e-portfolios for assessing student performance in “The Power of the Portfolio” (Villano 21-28). More than just an easy way to collect assignments, e-portfolios can be the “architecture of the major itself, acting as the mechanism by which curricular objectives are supported and measured” (26).
The cost of developing and maintaining a campus-wide e-portfolio system can be daunting to a small school. That cost could be balanced, though, by the benefits to both students and programs. Plus, the article highlights the Open Source Portfolio Initiative that is furthering work on open source portfolio software (22).
You can see an example of the University of Denver’s DU Portfolio Community, logging in as a guest to view those portfolios that users have made public. A free registration is required. The DU system contains personal, community, and course portfolios, suggesting the multiple levels at which these tools can work.
Maybe you have implemented a course portfolio in the past, but without campus-wide implementation you might have wondered how it would benefit your students after your course. Is it time to initiate such a tool for assessment at your institution? A tool that can integrate student, course, department, curricular, and institutional assessment?