Harvard Educational Review
  1. New Directions in Portfolio Assessment

    Reflective Practice, Critical Theory, and Large-Scale Scoring

    Edited by Laurel Black, Donald A. Daiker, Jeffrey Sommers, and Gail Stygal.

    Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994. 367 pp. $22.50 (paper).

    New Directions in Portfolio Assessment, a collection of essays about the use of portfolio assessment at the postsecondary level, presents a variety of perspectives on the current state of the discipline as well as potential new directions it is expected to take. These essays, originally presented at the Miami University Conference on Portfolios held in October 1992, address the various complexities of portfolio assessment, its potential benefits and liabilities, and perspectives on its use from the voices of students, teachers, administrators, and researchers.

    The volume is divided into three sections. In the first section, editors Laurel Black, Donald A. Daiker, Jeffrey Sommers, and Gail Stygal present the essays of the keynote speakers of the conference: Pat Belanoff, Edward M. White, Peter Elbow, and James Berlin. These authors highlight some of the current issues within the field of assessment by addressing common questions, such as "Why have portfolios become relevant in the current educational climate?" and "What cautions are needed to prevent portfolios from becoming opportunities for conventional testing rather than full literacy events?" (p. 4). In the second section, the contributors address portfolio assessment within the context of the university classroom, including graduate-level teacher education programs, and discuss the use of portfolios both as an assessment tool and as a pedagogical tool to develop students' writing and thinking. In the third section, the contributors address portfolio scoring and large-scale portfolio assessment. These authors address the potential role scorer bias plays in portfolio scoring, including the effects of gender, culture, and race, and the ways in which such biases have the potential to reenact the hierarchies of the cultural surround.

    The contributors to this volume make recommendations for the appropriate preparation and instruction of educators who will read and evaluate student portfolios. They also address the large-scale use of portfolios as a replacement for other assessment tools. New Directions in Portfolio Assessment is an important resource for any postsecondary educator interested in the potential benefits and liabilities of portfolio assessment. Drawing together a variety of perspectives on the current state of the discipline, this extensive volume has the potential to inform both research and practice.

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