Self-Selection in the Portfolio Process
While it is possible for a teacher to assemble student work in a portfolio, the question is whether such an assembly fosters student growth and learning. The authentic instructional value and power of portfolios comes when students use criteria and self-reflection to make decisions about what they want to show about themselves and why. Self-selection of portfolio entries is integral to a successful portfolio program. This week, we offer tips concerning self-selection and portfolios.
This Week's Tips
Portfolio Self-Selection Increases Accountability (Monday)
Use self-selection to encourage students to be responsible for their own learning. Self-selection permits students to practice being “in-charge” of their own learning. The freedom to choose the entries is balanced by the responsibility of having to justify the selections held in the portfolio. Both the selection and the justification are self-directed. Self-selection can be a major component of turning learning over to learners.
Use Portfolio Self-Selection as a Means to Instructional Growth (Tuesday)
Permit students to select and revise projects to be included in the portfolio to encourage growth. Structure a clear assessment tool for the portfolio. Provide an opportunity for students to reflect and get feedback on the projects or papers they are considering for inclusion in their portfolios. Remind them that they can choose to include graded work in the portfolio. With a clear understanding of the portfolio assessment criteria, many students will seek critical feedback on a project and work toward improved portfolios and better grades.
Build Self-Evaluation into the Portfolio Assessment (Wednesday)
Assign students to include a letter of justification with the completed portfolio. After students choose material for their portfolios, assign them to write a cover letter that puts into words the criteria they used for their choices. The letter becomes a statement of claims with written support describing specific evidence and should become the focus of evaluating the portfolio. Such a letter rounds out the portfolio. Not only is the content there to measure, but also the student’s justification about how he/she measured the pieces.
Avoid Selection Sampling Bias in Portfolios (Thursday)
Avoid sampling bias by having students include all of their papers or projects in their portfolios. Some teachers prefer a comprehensive portfolio as opposed to a sampling portfolio. To build a comprehensive portfolio, have students arrange their efforts from most effective to least effective, and then ask them to write a comparison/contrast cover letter that justifies the selection of the best piece as offset by the least effective piece.
Include Self-Selection in Composite Portfolios (Friday)
Include self-selection in composite portfolios. Composite portfolios contain work by more than one student and can be used for many different purposes. As with any portfolio, the overall goal is to demonstrate student learning. A composite portfolio might be one way to demonstrate what impact a school or program is having on students in general, to demonstrate what is being taught, or as a learning tool for groups of students. Student contributions to composite portfolios should be self-selected and include justification for the selection.