Sample Cases from Dublin Institute of Technology

See some samples cases for this assessment method in the table below or browse the full set of cases in the assessment toolkit.

Assessment MethodLecturerAssociated Programme(s)NFQ LevelYear
Portfolio Matt Bowden BA Social Care Level 8 Year 2-3
Performance Tasks and Portfolios Deirdre Lawless MSc Computing Level 9  

[Return to the Assessment Toolkit]


Student portfolios are collections of student work that are typically used for an alternative assessment grade. Student portfolios usually take one of two forms.

A process portfolio documents the stages of learning, providing a progressive record of student growth. This type of portfolio contains work that shows the student's progression through the course of the year, i.e. writing samples might be taken from the beginning, middle, and end of the college year. It is a systematic collection of work and related material that depicts the students activities, accomplishments, and achievements in one or more subjects. The collection should include evidence of student reflection and self-evaluation, guidelines for selecting the portfolio contents, and criteria for judging the quality of the work. The goal is to enable students to assemble portfolios that illustrate their talents, represent their writing capabilities, and tell their stories of college achievement... (Venn, 2000, pp. 530-531) Teachers can use process portfolios to help students identify learning goals, document progress over time, and demonstrate learning mastery. Venn (2000) believed teachers prefer to use process portfolios because they are ideal for documenting the stages that students go through as they learn and progress (p. 533).

A product portfolio demonstrates mastery of a learning task or a set of learning objectives and contains only the best work. This type of portfolio involves the student and/or teacher selecting examples of their best work. This type of portfolio can be graded in one of two ways. In many cases, these items are graded normally and then placed in the student's portfolio. This portfolio can then be used as evidence of student work for college and scholarship applications among other things. The other way the product portfolios can be graded is to wait until the end of a term. In this instance, typically the teacher has published a rubric and students select their own work for inclusion. Then the teacher grades this work based on the rubric.

Learning Outcomes

Students must learn to reflect on their work. Self-evaluation is a critical element in the process of choosing work for inclusion of the portfolio.


  • Promotes student self-evaluation, reflection, and critical thinking
  • Measures performance based on genuine samples of student work
  • Provides flexibility in measuring how students accomplish their learning goals
  • Enables teachers and students to share the responsibility for setting learning goals and for evaluating progress toward meeting those goals
  • Gives students the opportunity to have extensive input into the learning process
  • Facilitates cooperative learning activities, including peer evaluation and tutoring, cooperative learning groups, and peer conferencing
  • Provides a process for structuring learning in stages
  • Provides opportunities for students and teachers to discuss learning goals and the progress toward those goals in structured and unstructured conferences
  • Enables measurement of multiple dimensions of student progress by including different types of data and materials. (Venn, 2000, p. 538)


  • Requires extra time to plan an assessment system and conduct the assessment
  • Gathering of all the necessary data and work samples can make portfolios bulky and difficult to manage
  • Developing a systematic and deliberate management system is difficult, but this step is necessary in order to make portfolios more than a random collection of student work
  • Marking portfolios involves the extensive use of subjective evaluation procedures such as rating scales and professional judgment, and this limits reliability
  • Scheduling individual portfolio conferences is difficulty and the length of each conference may interfere with other instructional activities. (Venn, 2000, p. 538)

Assessment in practice

According to Venn (2000, p540) the teacher and the student need to clearly identify the portfolio contents, which are samples of student work, reflections, teacher observations, and conference records. Second, the teacher should develop evaluation procedures for keeping track of the portfolio contents and for grading the portfolio... Third, the teacher needs a plan for holding portfolio conferences, which are formal and informal meetings in which students review their work and discuss their progress. Because they encourage reflective teaching and learning, these conferences are an essential part of the portfolio assessment process.

Assessment time

  • Preparation time: Extra time needed to plan an assessment system and conduct assessment. 
  • Student time to complete: Entire semester or academic year.
  • Marking time: Can be very time consuming as involves the extensive use of subjective evaluation procedures such as rating scales and professional judgment,
  • Ease of Feedback: Given during the course of the programme

DIT Publications. Available at arrow.dit.ie

  • Donnelly, R. (2003) Integrating the Use of Teaching Portfolios with Experiential Learning in a Postgraduate Certificate for Academic Staff in Third Level Learning and Teaching
  • Donnelly, R., Fitzmauricem, M.: Creating Spaces for Voices: The Portfolio as a Framework to Support Inquiry into Third Level Learning and Teaching. European Conference on Educational Research, University of Hamburg, 17-20 September, 2003.
  • OKeeffe, Muireann, "Exploring Supports Provided for Student ePortfolio Development in a Professional Development Context" (2012). Articles. Paper 9.¿

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