The eportfolio has been used successfully for assessment in K- 12 education as well as many faculties of higher education. In addition to Education, it is often used in the Arts, the Humanities and Social Sciences; it is now becoming more popular with the faculties of Computer Science and Engineering.
The Burgess Report (2007) concluded that assembling a portfolio allows a student to showcase a much wider range of achievement for assessment than traditional forms of assessment.
The use of ePortfolios for assessment fits well with the constructivist framework that has been emerging in education as the most effective teaching and learning experience. (Clark & Adamson 2009) It provides opportunities for the formative assessment valuable to the constructivist approach.
The ePortfolio provides a tool that allows for assessment for learning since it is:
- Student centered – The learner is involved and authorized to make decisions about their learning.
- Student directed – Students can be involved in development of learning goals and in the development of assessment criteria.
- Feedback from teachers and peers – Feedback in the form of comments, as opposed to marks, is the natural and appropriate manner to help students with self-assessment and ePortfolio decisions.
- Recognition of individual learning abilities and preferences- The learners have the freedom to bring in their own interests or competencies into the assessment situation. (Hilzensauer & Schaffert (2009)
- Demonstrates awareness of learning and growth over time – Both student and teacher can note the changes or improvements in skills from Sept. to June.
The most valuable aspect of ‘ePortfolio thinking’ is that students are being encouraged to think about their learning and become more reflective thinkers in general. As students increase their metacognitive skills, they make progress towards the ultimate goal of becoming more skilled life-long learners. (Clark & Adamson 2009)
I have watched with great interest over the last decade as ePortfolio tools have advanced. The efolio tool developed by Ray Tolley allows for users of all ages and purposes. I have noted that some of the issues around evaluation and assessment have disappeared, however, new and different challenges have continued to emerge. More efficient marking schemes for evaluating the product are currently being developed and tested. (Clark & Adamson 2009) Improvements and progress in innovative ways to use ePortfolios effectively are evident. (Barrett 2009) Dr. Helen Barrett is currently conducting an internet based action research project that examines the use of Google Applications for creation of ePortfolios. Following the thread of blogs around this project indicate that many complications with developing the product still need to be worked out, but questions are being answered and progress is being made.
It seems that similar to the ePortfolio always being a ‘work in progress’, so it is with the use of ePortfolios as an assessment tool.