What is a Portfolio?
Whether electronic or paper, portfolios are more than a scrapbook,
and not merely a container for storing and displaying evidence of
a teacher's knowledge and skills. A teaching portfolio, like an
artist's portfolio, is a collection of work that illustrates an
individual's talents as an educator (Doolittle, 1994). A portfolio
creates a context for teaching experiences. It allows a teacher
to analyze his/her teaching, to gather evidence that supports identified
beliefs/standards, and to develop reflective rationales that connect
teaching and learning. A teaching portfolio is a structured collection
of evidence of a teacher's best work that is selective, reflective,
and collaborative, and demonstrates a teacher's accomplishments
over time and across a variety of contexts (Edgerton 1991).
Traditionally, teacher evaluation is conducted by an outside source:
an administrator, department chair, or other supervisor. In most
cases, the evaluator spends time observing the teacher and discussing
their practice with the individual. This provides the evaluator
with a snapshot of a teacher's practice-and while the teacher might
play a role in the process, often the evaluator is in control of
the situation. Portfolios provide for more than a snapshot-in fact
they act as a series of snapshots over time-to provide an authentic
context for the teacher's interactions and relationships with the
students and the content, thus providing a dynamic, reflective experience
for the portfolio developer.
Portfolios allow individual teachers to identify standards, develop
rationales for their selections, and provide evidence over time
that the standards are being met (or exceeded). The portfolio developer
is also the primary evaluator-reflecting upon their own personal
and professional growth through their artifacts and rationales.
The reflective component of the portfolio provides a structured
approach to critiquing and evaluating one's own effectiveness as
a teacher (Doolittle, 1994). The type of portfolio described here
provides documentation of the unfolding of teaching and learning
over time, combined with the opportunity to engage in analysis of
what the teacher and students have accomplished.
Portfolio assessment differs from other types of assessment, not
only because it is coordinated by the teacher, but also because:
- it allows for selection of multiple sources of evidence
- is gathered in authentic settings
- requires decision-making on the part of the developer and can
be used to set and track
- future professional development goals.