Type of Powerful Assessment - Portfolio based assessment


Community & social work

  • Use of ePortfolios and reflective journals against a good practice framework when on placement in an NGO


Engineering & Technology

  • Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s UG Transdisciplinary studies in Technology Program. ‘The program emphasizes creation, application and transfer of knowledge through hands-on learning…. (it).. combines individualized plans of study, close faculty mentoring of students and a competency-based approach for traditional learners at a public research university”… (This approach)… shifts the focus away from traditional credit hours and instead measures student progress on demonstrated (capabilities and) competencies. The learning is organized around themes and driven by problems rather than seat time in a classroom…. A student must demonstrate expertise in eight broadly defined primary competencies in order to graduate. The primary competencies include design thinking, effective communication, social interaction on a team, ethical reasoning, and innovation and creativity. Each of the competencies is split into five sub-competencies…. Through the program, achieved competencies will be accounted for while an e-portfolio will showcase them and be added to the students’ academic records…. Dean Bertoline said competency-based education answers the call from industry leaders looking for a different type of higher education graduate… “They are looking for well-rounded graduates that not only have deep technical knowledge and skills but very broad capabilities for open-ended problem solving, greater creativity, ability to work in diverse teams and better communications skills,” he said. A video on the program is available at: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BxdPFMVWz-l2ZVhIdVNqdXNUZjQ&usp=drive_web



  • Portfolio-based Constructive Alignment: The portfolio-based approach to constructive alignment aims to motivate students to engage in learning by removing marks from coursework assignments, using frequent formative feedback to produce evidence, and performing final summative assessment using criterion referenced assessment. With this approach, educators define unit learning outcomes and assessment criteria to indicate how students can demonstrate they have achieved unit learning outcomes to different grade levels. To help guide students to this understanding, educators create tasks for students to engage with during the teaching period and work with students to help them demonstrate unit learning outcomes through completing these tasks. At the end of the teaching period, the resulting work is compiled into a portfolio for summative assessment, and assessed against the assessment criteria. Data can be collected from the formative feedback process to help educators perform the final summative assessment quickly and accurately. For further details see: http://crpit.com/confpapers/CRPITV136Cain.pdf and See: Cain, Andrew. 2013. “Constructive Alignment for Introductory Programming.” Ph.D. thesis. Swinburne University. Hawthorn, Australia



  • Development of an ePortfolio which gives evidence of the effective development and application of the key overall capabilities and competencies necessary for accreditation



  • A first year unit that asks students to research and reflect on nursing as a profession – assessment focuses on the quality of critical reflection and how effectively the student has been able to start the development of an evidence-based professional ePortfolio against the capabilities set down for development in the program (Reflect/ePort).
  • Nursing: a video of a trainee undertaking a procedure under supervision with a critical self review against an agreed rubric and compared with the supervisor’s analysis and suggestions. The video and reflection goes into the student’s portfolio on clinical performance and appraisal


The UK Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)

The way we currently communicate student achievement is in urgent need of modernisation…. The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) provides a more sophisticated
and valuable alternative for recording student achievement. A student’s HEAR will include information describing their qualification: its subject, level of study and a brief description of the modules or units they have studied, with the individual grades they achieved. It will also cover extra-curricular achievements, which can be clearly evidenced through prizes and awards, representative roles and official posts, for example in a students’ union. The report will supplement the traditional degree classification and will include the European Diploma Supplement.
HEA (2012): A marked improvement: transforming assessment in higher education, HEA, York, pg 12 at: At: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/a_marked_improvement.pdf pg 12.


The Cal State System use of the Portfolium tool

  • This tool is free for students and operates like ‘Linked in” – in that it is intended to link students directly with employers looking for capable graduates
  • Students can list all the curricular and co-curricular activities they have been involved in with evidence of the quality of their delivery and that they have met the capability requirements and indicators established as central to early career employment
  • Employers can search the database in a Boolean fashion for potentially relevant graduates to consider for employment.
  •  Students can load up co-curricular activities and evidence; along with results on class assessment; placement evidence etc
  • The system is being set up for the entire Cal State System (500,000 students).

For details of Portfolium overall see: https://portfolium.com/
For its use at California State University Northridge see: http://www.csun.edu/it/portfolium


EPortfolio Assessment of Clinical Skills in Nursing at UBC

UBC School of Nursing uses technology and innovation to assess student skills
At: http://apsc.ubc.ca/spotlight/ubc-school-nursing-uses-technology-and-innovation-assess-student-skills

Author: Bernie Garrett, PhD, RN
Bernie Garrett is part of an innovative change taking place within the UBC Bachelor of Science Nursing program and the evaluation process of clinical competence of nursing students. One of the challenges facing nursing education is finding a method that effectively measures students’ advancing clinical skills throughout the entirety of their degree. By developing the eportfolio system, educators have found an engaging way to assess students’ clinical abilities and build confidence based on their development.

What is the big picture problem that your research tries to address?
Well, it’s a professional problem for us in terms of nursing education, but it’s a problem that is relevant for really any clinically-based education program where students have to be confident and have faith in their abilities. Assessing students in practice is a tricky thing to do; it involves quite a lot of one-to-one experience with their instructors and measuring a variety of clinical skills. The best way that we have been able to do this up until now is with individual assessment tools that only target particular courses. Gathering that information solely by talking to people creates challenges and the problem is that that it doesn’t show a great deal of continuity from the student, as a novice, as they proceed forward to becoming an expert.
So what we have done is developed an approach for testing and evaluating assessment approaches using an electronic portfolio, so that from day one when students enter the program their clinical practices are assessed within the portfolio right through until they graduate.

What is innovative about the eportfolio system?
We contracted a developer and asked them to create a tool for us. We had done some research and couldn’t find anything that resembled our vision. So the electronic portfolio or eportfolio has been developed in-house at the School of Nursing at UBC. It is a web-based system that operates and incorporates all the clinical assessment competencies that are required. We can link back to the registered professional standards that the College of Registered Nurses of BC requires.
We have incorporated learning tools such as reflective journals and logging of clinical skills within the eportfolio and give students the opportunity to add their own documents or digital artifacts to their portfolio. By allowing students a space to self-reflect on their entire learning experience, the eportfolio promotes an approach to learning where students provide the evidence for their knowledge, through their actions and reflections.
As well, no one else was using a system like this. We were the first in North America to be using this system of assessment of clinical practice of students. UBC School of Nursing has been using it since 2009 and it has proved very effective for us. Quite a few other schools and colleges throughout North America have started to switch over to electronic evaluations systems as well.

How will your research and the eportfolio make a difference?
In terms of teaching, an electronic evaluation system makes for a higher quality of assessment and therefore gives a higher quality of education. In terms of students it means that they now have evidence of their practice and performance throughout the whole of their training. They can then show evidence to employers when they are looking for jobs after graduation. It is a more transparent, convenient and effective method of assessment of student clinical competence.

Bernie Garrett, Associate Professor in UBC School of Nursing


Online learning portfolios at Portland State University

See: https://www.pdx.edu/unst/eportfolio-frinq-eportfolio-guide and https://www.pdx.edu/oai/pebblepad. In the ePortfolio system with freshmen in the University Studies program at PSU:

  • The ePortfolio is developed against the four core capabilities to be developed in the Freshman university studies program: communication; working with diversity; inquiry and critical thinking; ethics and social responsibility. PSU is using a new enterprise tool: Pebble Pad (one of the first of 3 US clients of this UK group). Students can add evidence from all their activities with a justification of how it meets one or more of the key capability areas.
  • Criteria for assessment: Portfolios are judged on their soundness of construction; the evidence provided; the focused expression; relevance; use of the IT-enabled tools (e.g. use of images/videos etc); and the veracity of the evidence claims made.

See also details of the PSU Capstone Course ePortfolio at: http://alt.wiche.edu/node/358 and the
ePortfolio: Fundamentals unit at: https://www.pdx.edu/unst/eportfolio-fundamentals-start


E Portfolios at Arizona State University

The tool used - ASU uses the tool: Digication. Currently 32,000 students have portfolios developed. See exemplary portfolios developed in English major.

Powerful uses of ePortfolio – key tests

  1. Focuses on evidence that PLOs have been achieved
  2. Taught in a 1st and 3rd year class - with exemplars, explicit, illustrated criteria, self review, peer review of classmates before submission
  3. Includes both curricular and co-curricular activities – this is one significant way to recognize co-curricular activities
  4. Includes a reflective self-assessment against specified criteria as part of the assessment
  5. Assessment is against the criteria set down in the formal ePortfolio subject.

Examples (kindly provided by the Vice-Provost)

  • Exemplary ePortfolio Awards are given to students and faculty for portfolios that both include exceptional writing and make good use of the affordances of the ePortfolio technology. Winners are celebrated in a showcase and awards ceremony.


ASU School of Sustainability

ASU School of Sustainability – Portfolios against program level outcomes in Sustainability
Students develop their portfolio of evidence against performance and a self assessment (curricular and co-curricular) on the following student sustainability outcomes:

  • Systems thinking
  •  Future thinking
  •  Normative thinking (e.g. what we should do; values)
  •  Strategic thinking
  •  Interpersonal competence


Communications & Information Technology

A first year subject involving 500 students in ICT is assessed via a constructively aligned portfolio.
The student portfolios are to contain a combination of the student's test work, work they have prepared in response to the weekly assignments, a Learning Summary Report, and other pieces. The portfolio requirements and assessment criteria are included in the Unit Outline, and these are discussed with students in multiple lectures. To be eligible for a Pass grade the portfolio has to include a range of pieces from the weekly exercises. The Credit grade requires completion of extension exercises, including additional programs or reports on related concepts. Distinction and High Distinction grades require students to go beyond the set work: Distinction is awarded for portfolios that included a custom program of the student's design and creation, and High Distinction requires a research report that analyses some aspect related to programming. The overview of the assessment criteria from the unit outline is provided to the students in the first week. Each of the individual learning outcomes (ILOs) are then included in a separate set of criteria showing the different levels to which these outcomes could be demonstrated. Students are asked to reflect on their learning in the Learning Summary Report, and a template document is provided to assist students in preparing their comments. The template prompts students to describe the pieces they have included, how they are related to the ILOs, and then to reflect on what they have learnt from the unit. Further details are available at: http://crpit.com/confpapers/CRPITV136Cain.pdf


Food systems & nutrition – tracking competency development & creativity

At the foundational level, students are asked to take responsibility for identifying and demonstrating how relevant competencies are acquired during the field visits, through discussion of course readings and through a “real world” group project report and presentation. Students use a competency record document that they maintain throughout the MPH program. At the same time, they are encouraged to keep a journal of their experiences and reactions to: readings; field visits to several community, corporate and government agencies; and guest speakers, in order to enable reflection in and on practice, a valuable means of enhancing professional learning (Schön 1983).

At the meso level, over a six week period, groups of five students work through actual challenges facing agencies within the food system to meet deliverables and think through options that the agency could implement.

At the meta level, students are asked, at the beginning of the course, to create a framework/diagram that represents their current understanding of Canada’s food system. They are given free reign as to how to represent it and their frameworks vary considerably in form and content. At the end of the course, students reflect on their original frameworks, and revise and resubmit them. Students are evaluated on the degree to which they are able to incorporate new insights about the food system into a revised or in some cases, substantially recreated framework.
By linking learning activities to both the competency requirements and the more creative framework development, opportunities for assessing different kinds of learning are woven together through the course. This “layering” encourages students to demonstrate foundational competencies while implementing higher order critical thinking and creatively generating new representations

(University of Toronto)