10-second review: Portfolios combine instruction and evaluation.
Title: Review of Portfolios in the Writing Classroom: An Introduction. Ed. Kathleen Blake Yancey (Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1992, 128 pages). Reviewed by KL Greenberg. College Composition and Communication (May 1993), 266-268. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Summary/Quote: “Ask a dozen teachers to define ‘writing portfolio’ and you’ll hear twelve different answers. One will say it’s a collection of students’ exemplary work; another might say it’s a repository of drafts, revisions and essays commenting on these drafts and revisions. Some teachers describe portfolio evaluations as simply another method of collecting student writing in a folder for end-term grading. Others offer testimonials about portfolios as a pedagogy that has transformed their teaching and students’ learning. Is portfolio evaluation merely the latest fad in writing assessment or is it a revolutionary strategy for integrating instruction and evaluation?”
Summary/Quote: “The authors of this collection clearly believe the latter—that a writing portfolio is not an assessment tool but rather a pedagogy with the potential to change students’ writing processes and products…. The portfolio…allows students to examine each piece of their writing relative to their other pieces and in relation to their overall development.”
Comment: I think the last sentence in the second quote is an excellent definition of the purpose of portfolios. Finally, a definition that makes sense to me. But a minor word of warning. When our English department collected student writing in portfolios, parents did not see the writing and assumed that writing was not being taught. RayS.