Gabi Reinmann and Silvia Sippel in their article “High road or blind alley: e-portfolios for inquiry learning” name three risks of assessment portfolios in context of higher education:
- The first risk is the conformance to rules and criteria due to establishing guidelines for students on the use e-portfolios. The more detailed and precise these guidelines are, the higher the risk of over-scripting, or too strict or too specific prescriptions of procedures and criteria (see also Dillenbourg). This may lead to students taking on a “strategic approach” and conforming to the established guidelines, at the same time neglecting own criteria and adjusting to external requirements.
- The second risk is self-profiling due to external assessment of e-portfolios. The very fact that an e-portfolio is primarily created to be assessed by a teacher or other expert may lead to over-reflecting: Students may take a rather shallow approach to self-reflection or strive for presenting only their positive achievements. In both cases this may result is self-marketing rather than self-reflection.
- The third risk is error prevention again due to external assessment. Avoiding showing own deficits or mistakes may lead to over-acting or emphasizing only positive or best practice examples of own practice. This may hinder learning from mistakes, recognizing the necessary steps for becoming an expert and leads to camouflage of own competencies.
The authors consider alternative ways of assessment, such as peer-assessment. However they conclude that this approach also brings some limitations, e.g. students have to be trained to be able to fulfill this task, which may be time-consuming and not feasible in all settings.
It would be interesting to learn if you encounter similar problems with application of e-portfolios as an assessment method and what strategies you apply to handle these problems. Thank you for your comments!