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April 2012
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  1. USING PORTFOLIO: AN EFFECTIVE TOOL OF LEARNING

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    Portfolio is the collection of evidences of students’ work over a period of time. It could be day-to-day work or selection of the learner’s best piece of work. Painters and commercial artists often use Portfolios to demonstrate their skills and quality work before the selection committees. Portfolio has several advantages which include: providing a cumulative record of growth and development of a skill or competence in an area over a period of time; enabling a student to demonstrate to others, his/her learning and progress; student becomes an active participant in the learning and assessment process. The important concerns regarding portfolio are to selected work to be put into the Portfolio which should have a specific reason and not all papers/items of work are to be included in the portfolio. This will become unmanageable.

    Portfolio can include several items. These can be Photographs to provide an insight into the child’s emotional, social and psychological aspects of development; Paintings and other examples of artistic endeavour to provides evidence of a learner’s abilities, thoughts and attitudes; Audio-Video Recordings for specific situation or over a time span to cover important processes and aspects that can be recorded and analyzed later; Self Assessment Sheets to provide evidence of the learner’s self evaluation; Peer Assessment Sheets for assessing in team and group based activities, social projects and peer related behaviour. Can be incorporated into the learner’s Portfolio to provide evidence of the learner’s social Life skills; and Parent Assessment Sheets to provide evidence of evaluation done by the parent.

    Some points must be noted for implementing portfolios. Some of these points are that: student should be encouraged to participate in selection of Portfolio contents as well as in developing the criteria for selection of the contents; continuous updating of the Portfolio as the child grows; careful structuring of Portfolio material accompanied by a reflective account; and clear labelling and numbering of content for easy reference.

    Portfolio Assessment

    One form of authentic assessment being widely adapted in schools today is portfolio assessment. A portfolio as “a container that holds evidence of an individual’s skills, ideas, interests, and accomplishments.” The ultimate aim in the use of portfolios is to develop independent and self-directed learners. Long-term portfolios provide a more accurate picture of students’ specific achievements and progress and the areas of needed attention.

    Portfolios make it easier to develop grading schemes that emphasize assessing individual student growth rather than competition with other students. As self-evaluation is an integral part of portfolio assessment, a highly competitive climate will prove counterproductive. Students will be reluctant to focus upon their deficiencies if they believe it will put them at a disadvantage in the competition for the top grades. Often portfolios are used to supplement, not replace, traditional assessment procedures.

    1. Portfolios should be developed by the students and not by the teacher. Students should have freedom in selecting items to include in their portfolios. It is advantageous to make the whole portfolio process a collaborative teacher-student effort, with the teacher becoming more of a consultant to the student. The teacher functions more as a coach than a director.
    2. Any item that provides evidence of a student’s achievement and growth can be included in a portfolio. Commonly used items include:
      1. Examples of written work
      2. Journals and logs
      3. Standardized inventories
      4. Videotapes of student performances
      5. Audiotapes of presentations
      6. Mind maps and notes
      7. Group reports
      8. Tests and quizzes
      9. Charts, graphs
      10. Lists of books read
      11. Questionnaire results
      12. Peer reviews
      13. Self-evaluations
    3. Each item in the portfolio should be dated to facilitate the evaluation of progress through the year.
    4. Typically, teachers hold periodic individual conferences with their students to review their portfolios. During this interview, it is important to listen to the students’ assessments of the items in their portfolio. The focus of the discussion should be upon the products included in the portfolio. The teacher and student work together to set a limited number of objectives for future work. Strive to achieve a dialogue, not a lecture.
    5. Much of the value of portfolios derives from the students’ reflection on which items are worth including in their portfolios.
    6. The portfolios may be kept in folders, file boxes, assigned drawers, or other appropriate containers. Whatever the storage container, it must be readily accessible to the students.
    7. Portfolios are especially helpful at parent conferences. Help the parent examine the portfolio, pointing out evidence of progress and areas of needed improvement.
    8. Portfolios are a new concept to most students and parents. There is a learning curve involved in adapting to the process. Experiment to determine what works and feel free to modify as needed.
    9. In some schools, students’ portfolios are made available to their teachers the following year to aid in diagnosis. A few schools are experimenting with the development of a permanent portfolio that follows the students throughout their total school experience. (This would be separate from their cumulative record folder.) Upon graduation, the students would keep their portfolios.
    10. Teachers can develop their own teaching portfolio as a means of facilitating their professional development. Your professional portfolio might include videotapes of successful classes, curriculum materials you have developed, course syllabi, sample lesson plans, professional development goals and objectives, workshop classes attended, publications written, student evaluations, awards, certificates, professional affiliations, principal’s and supervisor’s evaluations, and your teaching philosophy.

    Portfolio assessment is an important assessment procedure that can develop students’ multiple intelligences. Students can maintain their portfolios based on their preferred learning styles. Using portfolio makes it clear that students are smart in so many different ways. Through the presentation of their portfolios, students can display their achievements and creativity in their preferred areas. The piece selected for portfolio by the students provides an important clue about the personal interest of students in an area. Teachers can record these interests and encourage students to develop these interests further.

    Using Portfolios in Classroom

    Portfolio has a number of specific advantages as a means of assessing classroom learning.

    1. Learning progress over times can be clearly shown (e.g. changes in writing, thinking, or research skills).
    2. Focus on students’ best work provides a positive influence on learning (e.g., best writing samples, best examples of reasoning and problem solving).
    3. Comparing work to past work provides greater motivation than comparison to the work of others (e.g., growth in knowledge and skills).
    4. Self-assessment skills are increased due to the students selection of best samples of work (e.g., focus is on criteria of good performance).
    5. Reflective learning is encouraged as students are asked to comment on each portfolio entry (e.g., why do you consider this as your best work?)
    6. Providing for adjustment to individual differences (e.g., students work at their own levels but work toward common goals).
    7. Providing for clear communication of learning progress of students, parents, and others (e.g., work samples obtained at different times can be shown and compared).
    8. Increasing teacher-student collaboration in the teaching-learning-assessment process.

    Purpose of the portfolio

    The main purpose of the classroom portfolio is to improve student’s learning. It provides unique contributions towards this by showing actual samples of student work, providing for comparisons of work in different areas and progress over time, providing opportunities for students to evaluate their own work and reflect on it, conveying clear evidence of learning to all interested persons, and increasing student’s participation in the learning process.

    Although the main purpose of student portfolio is to improve their learning, the secondary purpose is to help students become responsible for their own learning. This means active participation of the students in selecting the samples to be included in the portfolios, in assessing the quality of entries, in reflecting on what was learned and how to improve performance, in maintaining the portfolio and evaluating it.

     

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