Tracking development and appraising competences with a portfolio

Portfolios are a useful tool to track the development of your students or to appraise their competences. Think of, for example, writing skills, reflective capabilities, or academic attitude.

Why learn with the help of a portfolio?

Portfolios are used as a developmental or appraisal instrument. They have a feedback function: by using their portfolio, students can show what they are capable of and what approach they use, on which they subsequently receive feedback or a rating. Portfolios are suited for developing and appraising skills and attitudes. Because these skills and attitudes often recur in multiple areas of a study programme, portfolios are mostly used cross-course and for a longer period.

Before you get started with using portfolios, it is good to determine what students will need to develop or show with the help of the portfolio and why portfolios are a useful addition to your education.

The advantages of a portfolio

  • Students themselves determine what material they want to receive feedback or be appraised on. This way, they control their own learning process. It is also possible to have students determine their own learning objectives.
  • Students learn to reflect on their work and approach by creating a portfolio.
  • Students learn to ask for feedback from others and apply it.
  • Students can use the portfolio after their graduation to show (future) employers how they have developed or what their competences are.

Three types of portfolios

  1. Assessment portfolio – The goal of this portfolio is to appraise students’ competences. Students fill the portfolio with work of which they think shows they have mastered a certain competence.
  2. Developmental portfolio – The goal of this portfolio is to gain insight into where students stand in their development and to help them advance with the help of feedback. This type of portfolio contains work that shows growth or development.
  3. Showcase portfolio – The goal of this portfolio is for students to show off what they have in store. They present themselves with the help of the portfolio and choose what they want to show off themselves.

Digital portfolio software Portflow

Portflow is the portfolio software of Radboud University. This is a personal, cross-course environment in which you can save and group documents, links, and media files. As the owner, you can share items from Portflow with lecturers, students and externals. All teachers and students can build a digital portfolio in Portflow. It can be found in Brightspace's navigation bar and opens in the Brightspace environment.

Read more about Portflow

How do I start using an ePortfolio in my teaching?

Step 1: Determine why you want to use a portfolio

Why would you use a portfolio and how does it benefit students and/or lecturers? What happens with the completed portfolio?

Step 2: Determine how you want to design associated course contents

Which learning objectives belong to the portfolio? What kind of supervision do you offer your students while they work on their portfolio? What instructions or assignments are relevant? How is feedback or an appraisal given?

Step 3: Determine how students will create their portfolio

Portflow provides a good place to collect materials as evidence. In addition, you can formulate goals that support you with your collected evidence. You can then share your portfolio or parts of it with others. Students can create their own structure, but you can also offer a predefined structure to the student.

Contact details

The Teaching Information Point at your faculty will happily assist you when it comes to using portfolios in your education.