Authentic and Portfolio Assessment


Bal Chandra Luitel

 Curtin University of Technology


Setting the context

The notion of assessment has been changing because of the emerging context of outcome-based education. In order to attain an outcome, students are required to learn multiple skills and knowledge, and develop understanding of learning through the integrated approach of instruction and assessment. This implies the fact that traditional assessment system such as the use of examination and summative tests no longer serves the purpose of assessment in the context of outcome based education (McNeir, 1993) .  In addition, the “exit outcomes” are not simply a list of content matter but are the integration of what, why and how (McNeir, 1993) to learn mathematics. Simply speaking, in order to assess the attainment of an outcome – estimate and measure the passage of time using non-standard units, it is better to adopt multiple methods such as observation, investigative activities, journal writing that can better authenticate the attainment of the outcome rather than by the traditional paper-pencil test. We should also note that the significant change to the traditional add-on notion of assessment by the notion of integration between instruction and assessment in the sense that both can go together which apparently supports for the enhancement of learning (Hancock, 1995) . Within this context, this essay seeks to discuss the authentic assessment, concept of portfolio, use of technology in portfolio, items for portfolios, selection of contents, instructional use of portfolio, and issues in portfolio assessment.

Authentic assessment

The critics of objective and structured types of assessment have pointed out a major weakness of such assessments of not being capable of portraying the overall performance of a learner and being rather helpful in investigating and probing understanding of mathematics learning. Authentic assessment is a process of involving multiple forms of performance measurement reflecting student learning, achievement, motivation, and attitudes (Callison, 1998) . The term authentic assessment is also coined to denote the notion of alternative practices, which are different from the traditional summative examinations, are appropriate in the contexts of outcome-based education for realistic and learner-centred instructional decision (McNeir, 1993) . Furthermore, the term is used in education to enhance the practice of realistic student involvement in assessment of their own achievements (Grace, 1992) by which they can develop a positive attitude towards mathematics learning. Commonly speaking, the traditional notion of assessment cannot assess the student learning process realistically because it views the assessment as the notion of knowledge-out-of-action (Applebee, 1996) . On the contrary, the concept of authentic assessment regards the process of assessment as a series of interactive situations between the learner and knowledge-in-action (Applebee, 1996) .  Comparing with the traditional standardized testing, the authentic assessment is different in many respects. For instance, it requires students to perform of what they have understood rather than to memorize; it presents the students with full array of tasks rather than writing one line answer; it is a process-oriented rather than guessing and selecting the correct answer; it probes the reliability and validity by devising a criteria varied to situation and the purpose of the assessment rather than trying to establish an objective framework; and authentic assessment comprises of ill-structured tasks from which students are helped rehearse for complex tasks as were in the real life rather than drilling and so called practicing in artificial situation (Wiggins, 1990-12) . In the context of mathematics education, the vital role of authentic assessment has been realized when the issue of conceptual understanding had started to draw the attention of educators and teachers (Hyde, 2002) . Furthermore, conceptual understanding can better be probed by authentic and informal approach of assessment rather than by the traditional ones.

The shifting paradigm of mathematics education from classical content that focuses more structural and out-of-context content to more contextual and real life mathematics, has led a change to instructional approaches and assessment practices (Pandey, 1990) . In mathematics, the authentic assessment is best described as to depict the learner’s performance through the natural settings where they learn, perform the task, grapple with the situation, investigate mathematical relations, perform the investigative task, and search the evidence for existence of mathematical concepts in real life or pseudo-real life situation (Pandey, 1990) . For instance, when the learners are assessed on the basis of their classroom activities – group work, investigative task, reflective writing, informal testing, and the like – it gives a clearer picture of student performance and learning process than that of the traditional assessment.

Apparently, continuous assessment approach is more authentic than the after-lesson-testing approach. Similarly, the assessment, which incorporates student participation in contextual problem solving, is more authentic rather the teacher-oriented summative test. For instance, it will be a more realistic task for student assessment if we ask the learner to identify the possible geometric shapes through observing various shapes on the pavement of their school. In the same line, if we assess them constantly through various methods and prepare a database regarding their progress, this will portray a more authentic assessment than does a mere written test.

Sometimes, we encounter with the confrontation of what we have to assess in mathematics. From the classical notion of assessment, mathematical expressions, logical structure, and mathematical representations are important to assess. However, the recent focus is on the assessment of multiple aspects of mathematical concepts including thinking and reasoning, setting, mathematical tools, and attitudes and dispositions (Clarke & Wilson, 1994; Pandey, 1990) . Seamlessly, the examinations cannot assess the aspect of mathematical disposition as do journal writing, reflection of own task, and investigative activities. Furthermore, when we see the student reflection, it helps to draw comprehensive inferences of what students think of their task, learning process, and the mathematics. In the recent research, reflection of their task is found to be very powerful tool in developing understanding of mathematics learning (Perkins, 1993) .

The notion of authentic assessment has been predominantly coming into the forefront of the process of reform in education. A number of successful projects and programmes have been introducing the authentic assessment practice in school education. The [state] education departments of Canada have been carrying out different projects on authentic assessment in order to improve instructional practices (see Anderson & Bachor, 1998) . For instance, Manitoba Education Training and Youth (2001) has expressed the notion of meaningful and authentic assessment as:

                    “The purpose of meaningful assessment is to inform instruction by providing information about student learning. This information can then be used to provide direction for planning further instruction. Assessment should occur in authentic contexts that allow students to demonstrate learning by performing meaningful tasks”.


The discussion suffices to say that the term authentic assessment focuses on more realistic and contextualised assessment that takes into account of learning process, settings, subject matter and the learner. In mathematics education, it has clearly been differentiated from the traditional notion of assessment from three perspectives: From the perspective of time, it depicts a continuous and ongoing nature of assessment; from the perspective of method, authentic assessment seeks to use multiple methods; and from the perspective of orientation, it is more student-oriented and focuses on student participation in assessment process.

There is a variety of ways exist for authentic assessment of student learning and learning process: open ended questions, observations, interviews, pre- and post-assessments, peer- and self-assessments, journal, portfolios, annotated classlists, practical test in mathematics, student-constructed test items, student investigative project, solutions to challenging problems in mathematics (Clarke & Jasper, 1994; Schulman, 1996) . Among the above-mentioned types of assessment, portfolio has been extensively used since the late eighties (Anderson & Bachor, 1998) . The portfolio helps access the multiple sources of evidence regarding the student learning and learning process. Furthermore, it can help enhance mathematics learning through the strategy of reflection upon, and self-assessment of the task. In this connection, the rest part of this discourse concentrates to portfolio assessment.

The notion of portfolio

The literary meaning of the term “portfolio” is a collection of the past work. However, in the context of assessment, portfolio does not represent only a mere collection of the past work. The Northwest Evaluation Association urges that the portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress or achievement in given areas (Arter & Spandel, 1992) . According to Simon and Forgette-Giroux(2000), the portfolio is a cumulative and ongoing collection of entries that are selected following a given framework, and reflected upon by the student, to assess his/her development of a specific but complex competency. Similarly, portfolio is also known as a record of the child’s process of learning that portrays the learner’s style of thinking, questioning, analysis, production, creation, and the like (Grace, 1992) . In other words, portfolio can be a better representation of the learner’s learning process rather than the summative examination. Commonly speaking, the portfolio can be viewed as a systematic and organized collection of evidence used by the teacher and student to monitor the growth of student’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes in a specific content area (San Diego County Office of Education, 2002) . The curriculum documents have suggested that the portfolio is an indispensable tool of authentic assessment. For instance, Education Department of Western Australia (2002) urges that the portfolio is collections of student work that connect separate items to form clearer and fuller pictures of each student as a learner whereas the Government of Alberta (2002) has mentioned it as a main assessment approach of mathematics learning (for instance see, Education Department of Western Australia, 2002a; Government of Alberta, 1994) . These examples help probe the viability of portfolio in our day-to-day teaching even from pre-primary to tertiary education.

Specifically, the portfolio assessment espouses the notion of learning as constructing and sharing that underlines an active involvement of learners to construct their portfolio (Matusevich, 1995) . In the early grades, students are required to perform the assigned task as expected by the curriculum frameworks (for example, reading, writing, and other creative endeavours), which can be developed as a portfolio. In the secondary level, the portfolios are subject and content base. In mathematics, students can be assigned project work, journal writing, problem solving and other innovative enterprises, are generally included in the portfolio. In higher education, the portfolio has been extensively used in the field of teacher education in which portfolio has a vital role in developing an in-service or a pre-service trainee teacher into a trained one (Piantanida & Garman, n. d.) . Specifically the use of portfolio in teacher training is carried out to monitor the overall performance that he/she developed during the course of training. The author, himself, when involved in an in-service primary teacher training program in Nepal, had observed that it used to be a coherent approach to document the change in teachers’ overall performance through the teachers individual record [portfolio] – they comprised of lesson plans, assessment rubrics, classroom observation and other creative endeavours of teachers.

There are various ways of preparing portfolios depending upon the purpose and other overt and covert reasons. However, the four general steps – collection, selection, reflection and connection (Family Education Network Inc., 2002) – found   to be common to all portfolio development process. In the first step, students are required to collect their tasks, which meet the criteria. The selection process is based on the type of portfolio, which is stipulated to construct. Commonly speaking, students select their collected tasks that are appropriate for their portfolio. The level of students is also significant factor affecting the process of selection—in the lower classes students may need frequent help of the teacher while the upper graders may accomplish independently. The most important process of portfolio construction is self-reflection upon the task. Because of this characteristic, the portfolio has become capable of addressing the metacognitive aspect of learning, which is a perceived weakness of the traditional assessment. Generally, the reflection is carried out by writing, however it can also be accomplished verbally.  Specifically, reflection is a strong approach of self-assessment and enhancement of the learning process. The notion of connection is the consequence of reflection. In addition, students have to establish a connection between the schoolwork and the value of what they are learning (Family Education Network Inc., 2002) . Moreover, the process of establishing connection has a significant role in developing understanding of mathematics learning, which is concerned with the connection across the curriculum. Similarly, the connection metaphor also focuses on how the portfolio is connected with the world outside the classroom.

From the perspective of content framework, there are five content dimensions in a portfolio: cognitive, affective, behavioural, metacognitive and developmental (Simon & Forgette-Giroux, 2000) . The cognitive dimension’s emphasis is rich in the application of acquired competency (Simon & Forgette-Giroux, 2000) . The affective dimension is related to pre-disposition in relation to the application of the competency whereas behavioural dimension focuses on evidence-based performance (Simon & Forgette-Giroux, 2000) .  Self-reflection and self-regulation are the characteristics of metacognitive dimension, which is followed by the developmental dimension that comprises of documentation of the progress of learner over time (Simon & Forgette-Giroux, 2000) . 

There are many genres of portfolios that can be useful for sharing purposes of both instruction and assessment. Generally, portfolios fall into three main categories: working, showcase and record-keeping. The working portfolio, which is also known as process and teacher-student portfolio, generally includes the sample of learner’s task that shows his/her progress over a certain period. It also depicts the story of student growth in performance.  For instance, in a process of writing portfolio task, the learner can include the earlier draft, improved and final version of his/her task. Moreover, this type of portfolio also includes the self-reflection upon, and self-assessment of, the accomplished task that helps assess how the learner has progressed over time, and estimate the limitation of his/her learning as well as the constraints that shape his/her learning process. 

The product or showcase portfolio (Family Education Network Inc., 2002; Koca & Lee, 1998) is the collection of such tasks that the learner considers his/her best among the accomplished and representative ones.  Despite its limitation in incorporating developmental tasks, it helps motivate the learner to demonstrate outstanding performance. Generally, student-led exhibitions have many elements of product-oriented portfolios. Even students can publish magazines and books and develop projects and other educational materials which all serve the purpose of product-oriented portfolios.

The record-keeping portfolio (Koca & Lee, 1998) is also called teacher alternative portfolio, which includes all the items that are scored, ranked, graded or evaluated. To some extent, this portfolio is similar to product-oriented portfolio, which is prepared by the teacher for each student. This portfolio takes some task of the product oriented and developmental portfolios.

Technology and portfolio

Technology has a pervasive role in enhancing instructional system. Furthermore, technological advancement has been increasing the viability of using sophisticated ideas in instructional practices. In the field of assessment, technology has a vital role to make it quick, comprehensible and easy to access at all time. As we know, the portfolio portrays a richer picture of student performance, the technological portfolio helps make the portfolio realistic by using multimedia technology (Barrett, 1997b) . According to Barrett (1997), electronic portfolios are easy to mange, easily distributable, replayable and reviewable, easy to compare by means of hyperlink between the portfolio items and the learning outcome, and safer than the folder-based portfolio.

The construction of electronic portfolio requires a plan regarding the possible portfolio entries and available media (Siegle, 2002) . For instance, floppy discs may not be appropriate to record audio and video files because of the lack of sufficient memories. Zip disks and CD-ROMs are useful in this regard. However, the text and word files are suitable to store in floppy discs with an optimum care.

The process of constructing electronic portfolio starts with defining the portfolio context and goals which is followed by the process of developing portfolio in the consecutive stages of working, reflective, connected and presentation portfolio (Barrett, 2000) . Specifically, the working portfolio is useful to portray the process of learning while the reflective portfolio seeks to explain why the specific artifacts were selected for the given [exit] outcome. The connected portfolio focuses on the technological connection between the corresponding portfolio entries and learning outcomes. The presentation portfolio deals with the process of storing and presenting the final product. The working portfolio is better to organize according to the sequence of learning outcomes or curriculum standards. Furthermore, the two essential types of link – theoretical—by rubrics and technological—by hyperlink – between the items of working portfolio and the outcome are very essential. This implies that the artifact should be linked with the corresponding outcome(s) as it depicts a whole picture of learning process (Barrett, 1997b; 2002) . The reflective portfolio is nothing new but a mixed feature of working and presentation portfolio in which reflection plays a vital role in making portfolio meaningful, contextual and appraisable. According to the Barrett “5-by-5” model (see, Barrett, 2000) the level of portfolio development includes development of text only file, digitization  of graphics and audio and video artifacts, establishment of navigational link (hyperlink)of artifacts with learning outcomes, and publication on the net as HTML file (Barrett, 2000).

The electronic portfolios are the alternative of folder-based portfolio. Unquestionably, electronically prepared portfolios are easy to use for the purpose of both instruction and assessment.     

Portfolio items

It is very essential to develop an understanding of what types of item/entries are included in a portfolio. It seems mediation between open and closed items while selecting them as portfolio entries. However, the emphasis of the nature of item depends upon the purpose of the portfolio, nature of the outcome, and the level of students.

From its definition, it is clear to us that portfolio construction is a continuous collection of the task to fulfill the pre-determined curricular objectives. It should be noted that the stress of definitions is on three facets of portfolio and its construction: One, the process must be a continuous; two, the task should fulfill the pre-determined objectives; and the process must be reflected on the task. With these notions, it becomes clear that the portfolio items evolve from the classroom activities. Specifically the following are common to all mathematics-portfolio entries (Koca & Lee, 1998; Lambdin & Walker, 1994) .

    Writing. Specifically, writing is a main characteristic of the portfolio. Except in some cases, writing is more useful in mathematical portfolios. This type of entry includes journal, mathematics autobiographies, explanations, reflections and so forth.

    Investigations or discovery. This entry is very important for assessing the learner’s understanding of mathematical concepts. Gathering data, examining models, constructing arguments, and performing simulations are examples of this type of entry.

    Application. This entry comprises of such items that demonstrate student understanding of concept, principle, and procedures to solve problems in well-grounded, real world context.

    Interdisciplinary. This entry’s focus is on use of mathematics within other subject areas. For instance, modeling of growth formula for social studies and finding the velocity of an object in science serve this type of entry.

    Nonroutine problems. This type of entry emphasizes the creative aspect of mathematics learning. Specifically, items related to puzzles and logic problems for which the solution or strategies are not immediately evident are called nonroutine problems.

    Projects. The focus of mathematical project – by projects we mean a type of activity that takes a period of days or weeks and requires a formal presentation of the material learned or investigated – is on the development of the skill of independent learning and group work.

Similarly a list of entries is also suggested (see Table 1) to depict a wide variety of mathematics-portfolio items. Moreover, the criteria of choosing a task for portfolio entry are based on the curricular outcome, definability of the task, and the purpose of the portfolio. The possible entries cited in the table portray a wide variety of portfolio-entries. However, the viability of use of each entry depends upon the local context and other overt and covert factors. For instance, a remote Nepalese school cannot afford videotapes to record student work. However, such school can encourage the student to draw a sketch of educational materials he/she used to solve mathematical problems.

Table 1

Possible entry types for mathematics-portfolio

 Open ended questions.

A report of group project.

Work from another subject area.

Problems posed by student.

Art projects.

A book review.

Excerpts from student’s daily journals.

A table of contents.

Draft, revised and final versions of student work on a complex mathematical problem.

Teachers description about the student understanding of a particular mathematical concept.

Newspaper and magazine articles.

Description of each item.

Audio tape or sketch of the manipulatives.

Papers that show the student’s correction of errors or misconceptions.

Notes from an interview by the teacher or another student.

Sample journal entries.

Work in the student’s primary language.

Teacher-generated checklists.

Videotapes of student’s work.

A mathematical autobiography.

Mathematical research.

Source: Koca and Lee (1998)


Selecting the best pieces of work

 People with the perspective of assessment as a testing process, which is carried out under the objective criteria, and regardless the context, suspect the usefulness of portfolio in assessment practice. It is because of the backwash of the system from which we come along developing a notion of assessment as a matter of testing at the end of lesson, unit, term and/or academic year. In mathematics, the traditional test often focuses on multiple-choice, short answer and written algorithm followed by a correct answer. Usually, the test item seeks a convergent and objective answer. In such a situation, the criteria of assessment are obvious; check for the correct answer, score the test, measure the performance of individual student, and compare with the others.

In the context of portfolio assessment, the traditional criteria of correct-answer approach of assessment can rarely contribute to judging the merit for the items included in the portfolio. Specifically, in the most cases, the portfolio assessment incorporates qualitative criteria that require a set of comprehensive rubrics to assess the all-round development of student through the learning process. According to Arter and Spandel (1992), such criteria give us a schema for thinking about student performance. Specifically, the schema is guided by the outcomes or learning objectives. In this connection, it is worthy to cite the case study of Mindarie primary School (see, Education Department of Western Australia, 2002c) in which the criteria of portfolio assessment have been determined according to the Learning Area Outcome. Furthermore, according to the case study, portfolio assessment has been designed to assess the process of student learning across the outcomes. Specifically, the case study focuses those both open and closed tasks, which are found to be useful to authenticate the student performance. The short description and qualitative evaluation of open tasks (for example survey, writing, drawing and other tasks) and the test result have been included in such portfolio. Another case of portfolio assessment is taken from Ballajura Community College which has clearly identified the purposes of portfolio assessment from Year 7 to 12 (Education Department of Western Australia, 2002b) .The case study also labels the purpose of portfolio assessment according to the audience. For instance, four target audiences have been identified: students, parents, further study institutions, career advisors, and employers. The case study also includes both closed and open tasks focusing on reflective writing. The rubrics have been prepared according to the Learning Area Outcomes comprising the rating scales, self-assessment, and so forth.

According to Simon and Forgette-Giroux (2000), systematic selection of the content for the portfolio gives a clearer and more authentic picture of the student progress. For instance, they suggest that the systematic collection of cognitive, affective, behavioral, metacognitive and developmental tasks helps assess the learner and the overall picture of learning process. These contents can rather be separated but be overlapped, and are eclectic in nature. The vital task is to identify the optimal content integration in a single portfolio item. Similarly, it is important to develop a set of comprehensive rubrics for judging such integrated-content dimensions according to their perceived attributes.

Portfolio contents need a proper explanation of context (Gearhart & Herman, 1995) . It does not only for the outside raters but also for all stakeholders who can also contribute to the assessment procedure. Ratability of the contents is the consequence of clearly designed rubrics and the comprehensive explanation of the purpose (Gearhart & Herman, 1995) . Written descriptions and qualitative analytical comments would be the addendum while using the rating scales. The famous Vermont Project used a portfolio rating system for grades 4 and 8 in which seven pieces of work had been rated on a four-point scale against the criteria of understanding of the task, quality of approaches, decisions along the way, outcomes of activities, use of mathematical language, use of mathematical representation and clarity of representation (New Jersey Department of Education, 1996) .

Looking at the cases and projects which are in effect since the last one and half decades, we can see the developmental focus of criteria for judging portfolio that demands an active involvement of learner, teacher and stakeholders in developing the criteria. Except in lower grades, the student of lower secondary level and onwards can understand the learning goals in terms of defined task. The construction of criteria itself is a learning process that can create an awareness of what and how the learners have to learn.   

 Instructional use of portfolio assessment

 Recent research has revealed that portfolio has a significant impact to the learning process (Simon & Forgette-Giroux, 2000) . A commonly agreed feature of portfolio is to provide with an opportunity to the learners to think about their own thinking (Arter & Spandel, 1992) that helps create a nexus between instruction and assessment. In addition, the metacognitive characteristic of portfolio help the learner to reflect upon the task that makes the portfolio instructional (Arter & Spandel, 1992) . In addition, the focus of self-reflection is quite useful in developing the analytical trait, which helps the learner to identify the degree of understanding about his/her own understanding. As a portfolio development process has to pass through a number of stages – selection, documentation, comparison and integration (Simon & Forgette-Giroux, 2000) – the learners have to identify the limitation of their process that helps them to improve the learning. In conclusion, self-refection helps develop the self-awareness of the status of learning and understanding of their own task, which have a great impetus to instructional process.

Alternatively, portfolio also reflects the series of communication between teacher and learner, which can be an evidence for appraising the learning process, gives a map of the impact of what happens inside the classroom to what the learner is to acquire. Needless to say, it also promotes a live communication between parents, teacher and students by means of portfolio-conferences, exhibitions and portfolio exchange (Lester & Lambdin, 1994) . Furthermore, effective student-teacher communication helps promote the instructional power that can minimize the possibility of gap between teacher and learner. There are number of intrinsic situations in portfolio construction that do not only demand an effective communication between teacher and student but also between the stakeholders (parents, testing experts, councilors, and education officers). For instance, writing reflections and journals, documenting the project report, conducting outside-the-classroom activities, and many other situations demand an active and direct communication between teacher, students and other stakeholders (Lester & Lambdin, 1994) .

The process of assessment always embeds a hidden notion of valuing (Clarke & Wilson, 1994) . For instance, learners value what the teacher prefers to assess and teachers [must] value what the curriculum framework focuses to acquire. In the nexus of curriculum framework, teacher’s priority, and student learning, portfolio is a reflection of these three major aspects of instructional process. In addition, while we develop a set of criteria for portfolio construction, – it is generally determined through teacher and student conferencing – our intent is to translate the complex performances into process, product and the both forms of learning. Consequently, the classroom are affected, constrained and facilitated through the criteria of what we intend to assess through portfolios.

Recently, in the field of mathematics education, the issue of connection (Hiebert & Carpenter, 1992) has considerably drawn the attention of teachers, researchers and teacher educators. In reality, it is not only the conceptual connection but also the pedagogical and instructional ones. Portfolio helps assess and establish the connection among the learning process, content, techniques and assessment. Most importantly, teacher stories tell us how students learn to connect mathematics with their mundane details to more thoughtful activities by the use of portfolio (see, Lambdin & Walker, 1994; Lester & Lambdin, 1994) .

 Portfolios are the source of motivation of learning. By the use of portfolio learners are encouraged to enhance their learning through the continuous process of selection, reflection and enhancement. Quick and continuous feedback makes them motivated to become more creative to perform outstanding task. Comparing with the traditional summative examination, portfolio is a means of contextualising the instruction and assessment, which have a positive impact to learners. 

So far we discussed the instructional use from the student viewpoint. Alternatively, except some concern of overload, teachers have been benefited from the use of portfolios in their instructional strategies. Some of them are listed as follows (see, Schipper & Rossi, 1997) in which portfolios have

  •  improved their instruction by compelling them to be more explicit;

  •  made them more reflective about both their students and teaching process;

  • enhanced their ability to carry out assessment; and

  • focused on more learner-centred teaching.

 Issues to resolve

             Human tasks may not be faultless because of the fallible nature of human mind. In the context of portfolio construction, there are some issues, which need to be discussed and take into account in portfolio construction. Sometimes, it is because of the generality of portfolio, there may be a lack of comprehensive criteria in selecting the items and confirming the student performance through qualitative evaluation. Let us discuss the following issues in brief.

Clear purpose. It is a well-known issue that the purpose of portfolio must be clear to enhance the process of instruction and student learning. The purpose reflects the audience of, and addressed learning outcomes by, the portfolio. Furthermore, these two aspects help determine the type of portfolio. The product portfolio may not serve the purpose of curriculum appraisal while the process portfolio may not be useful for college-entrance qualification (George, 1995) .

Sharing responsibilities. It is essentially important to determine the accountability of teacher, students and stakeholders in construction process  (Arter & Spandel, 1992). In the classroom contexts, teacher and students share the process of portfolio construction. However, regarding the classroom based portfolio, clear demarcation is essential for student accountability. Similarly, in the statewide portfolio assessment procedure, the teacher accountability is to be defined so that the sharing role can be concretized.

Another important aspect of this issue is to determine the ownership of the portfolio. In the classroom contexts, both teacher and students create portfolios. The teacher created portfolios fully serve the assessment purpose while the student-owned portfolios are useful in learning process.  

Instructional use. The important role of portfolio in instruction is widely acceptable. we have understood that the portfolio can contribute to the development of a strong link between instruction and assessment. This issue does not work until the decision of what and how we value. Specifically, the criteria are the basis for the use of portfolio in instructional settings. Furthermore, such criteria may help the learner to target the possible task and expected performance, which is to be reflected by the portfolio (Arter & Spandel, 1992). The potential instructional use of portfolio is determined by the criteria that the teacher prefers to focus in his/her instructional process.

Portfolio entry. The portfolio entry is one of the indicators to determine whether the purpose of portfolio construction is fulfilled or not. The entry should reflect the learning process as well as the best piece of the students. However, it is sometimes problematic in selecting the portfolio entry because of the confronting views of the best piece. For instance, student may favor the problem-solving task, which leads to a definite answer rather than open-ended task while the teacher may be in reverse position. Mediation among the teacher, student and other stakeholders is essential regarding the selection of the portfolio entries. This process should also include the indicators for standardizing such entries.

Model of portfolio. There are three basic models available in portfolio construction: statewide/districtwide portfolio (San Diego County Office of Education, 2002) , teacher-centered portfolio and student-centered portfolio (Barrett, 1997a) .The latter two can be labeled as the classroom/organic portfolio. The model of portfolio determined the assessment and instructional process. In statewide portfolio, the criteria are standardized through pilot testing, expert review, and teacher-superintendent conferences while the criteria of classroom portfolio are determined through teacher-student conferences. It is very important to identify the perceived limitation of each model to make effective use in instruction and assessment.

Criteria of assessment. Apparently, without clear and explicit criteria for the assessment of the portfolio, it gives a worse result than does traditional assessment practice. Undoubtedly, the criteria should give a glimpse of what will be valued; who will assess; and how the assessment is carried out. In classroom portfolios, the criteria of selecting individual entries should be such clear that it should address the quality of individual entries, amount of information included, variety of the things included, quality of depth of self-reflection, growth in performance (Arter & Spandel, 1992) and changing mathematical disposition. Similarly, Lambdin and Walker (1994) suggest some thinking questions that serve as the criteria for portfolio assessment, which helps assess the self-reflection and self-assessment of the student. Furthermore, the judgment of self-reflection can be assessed on the basis of thoughtfulness, accuracy, realistic writing in relation to performed task, synthesis of ideas, and self-revelation (Arter & Spandel, 1992).

            The understanding of an exit outcome as a single criterion for judging the portfolio may lead a shaky assessment procedure because an outcome requires a multiple criteria to assess its attainment.  In addition, an outcome is a representation of several performances to be learned which requires a comprehensive procedure that gathers a wide array of information to probe the attainment of the outcome.

            Selection and assessment responsibilities. In most cases,  students make selection of  portfolio entries. As we know the portfolio is an appropriate means of creating student-centered learning and assessment environment, the portfolio should reflect this notion of learning and assessment. Practically, depending upon the students level and content nature, the shared selection procedure is suitable. Automatically, the shared notion develops a continuous interaction, which reflects an increased communication in the classroom. Regarding the assessment procedure, a collective assessment approach involving students, parents, councilor, testing experts and teachers, gives a better judgment rather than carried out by a single person.


The focus of authentic assessment is to draw more reliable and realistic inference regarding the learning process and student learning. Its emphasis is on using multiple methods of assessment, which tells more about the student learning than does the traditional system.  Portfolio, as it grows through the classroom activities, is a story of learning process in a particular context, authenticates the learning process and student learning focusing on both process and product. It is very essential to determine the coherent criteria that can assess the realistic performance of the learner. Seamlessly, portfolio improves the educative relationship between the teacher, students and stakeholders; and makes a worthy learning environment that helps the learner to be capable of transforming the world at large.


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