How Building a Student Portfolio Increases Student Efficacy

minute read
November 17, 2023

Traditional grading practices suggest that tests and quizzes are often worth a large amount of student grades. Often, both student learning and understanding suffer due to this. Students are graded on an influx of assessments, without being given the opportunity or time to set goals and look back at what skills or concepts they understand. 

More harrowingly, if students are dependent on others to tell them when they are adequate or excellent, as well as set goals for them and tell them when the goals have been reached, then at best, students are losing control over their own education and at worst, students are being severely disempowered.

Impacts of Student Involvement in the Learning Process

Current research shows that students do best when they are involved in their own learning. This means that students believe they have control over their education, and that it is not simply a passive experience for them. 

Many students, especially those that are not historically high achievers, are of the belief that the work they produce, or effort they put in, has no explicit effect on the grades they earn. The task then falls to teachers to weave together student performance, effort and grades. One way to do this successfully can be to couple student goal setting with student crafted portfolios. 

Empowering Students through Goal Setting and Portfolios

Teachers are able to make small changes in their classrooms to shift from a traditional practice that does not give students autonomy over their own learning, to an approach that allows students to set goals, achieve goals and provide proof of their understanding. One of the most important steps in setting up student portfolios is teaching students how to use student trackers in order to set goals. 

Students are able to set goals and see how their actions affect their performance results. For example, a student can identify what she feels is her current level of performance on a topic and what steps she will specifically take to improve. She will then record her performance and reflect on how her effort, or lack-there-of, resulted in a change in performance. The student is then able to make the determination that what she did either helped or hindered her progress towards her goal. 

Student trackers are easily paired with portfolios, as students are able to provide proof of their performance through the assignments that they choose to include in their portfolio body of work. Teachers should make sure that there are some items that are pre-determined to be included in the portfolio, and other items that are able to be selected by the student. 

Implementing Technology in Portfolio-Based Learning

Though the idea of switching to a goal and portfolio based classroom can seem like a bear, there are modern solutions that make the switch much easier. The Graded+ App from Solved allows teachers to assign a question to students and then scan their responses in under three minutes. This allows for fast feedback to students, as well as a documented recording of work for teachers. 

Even better, students are able to place the work into their portfolio and have it graded in an app, which means there are no marks or teacher scribbling on their actual assignment; perfect for a portfolio. 


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