Portfolio development is one of many forms of alternative assessment available to teachers. When this approach is used, generally the students collected their work and try to make sense of it through reflection.
It is surprisingly easy for portfolio development to amount to nothing more than archiving work. However, the CRADLE approach was developed by Gottlieb to alleviate potential confusion over this process. CRADLE stands for the following
Collecting is the process in which the students gather materials to include in their portfolio. It is left to the students to decide what to include. However, it is still necessary for the teacher to provide clear guidelines in terms of what can be potentially selected.
Clear guidelines include stating the objectives as well as explaining how the portfolio will be assessed. It is also important to set aside class time for portfolio development.
Some examples of work that can be included in a portfolio include the following.
- tests, quizzes
- electronic documents (powerpoints, pdfs, etc)
Reflecting happens through the student thinking about the work they have placed in the portfolio. This can be demonstrated many different ways. Common ways to reflect include the use of journals in which students comment on their work. Another way for young students is the use of checklist.
Another way for young students is the use of a checklist. Students simply check the characteristics that are present in their work. As such, the teacher’s role is to provide class time so that students are able to reflect on their work.
Assessing involves checking and maintaining the quality of the portfolio over time. Normally, there should a gradual improvement in work quality in a portfolio. This is a subjective matter that is negotiated by the student and teacher often in the form of conferences.
Documenting serves more as a reminder than an action. Simply, documenting means that the teacher and student maintain the importance of the portfolio over the course of its usefulness. This is critical as it is easy to forget about portfolios through the pressure of the daily teaching experience.
Linking is the use of a portfolio to serve as a mode of communication between students, peers, teachers, and even parents. Students can look at each other portfolios and provide feedback. Parents can also examine the work of their child through the use of portfolios.
Evaluating is the process of receiving a grade for this experience. For the teacher, the goal is to provide positive washback when assessing the portfolios. The focus is normally less on grades and more qualitative in nature.
Portfolios provide rich opportunities for developing intrinsic motivation, individualize learning, and critical thinking. However, the trying to affix a grade to such a learning experience is often impractical. As such, portfolios are useful but it can be hard to prove that any learning took place.