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Keywords e.g. warehousing
Qualification Code e.g. 600/5640/X
Keywords e.g. warehousing
Unit Code e.g. Y/505/4889
Open Awards Unit ID e.g. CBF498
Keywords e.g. warehousing
Open Awards Unit Code e.g. UA33ART12
Open Awards Unit ID e.g. CBF521

The benefits of Assessment Portfolios

In recent years there appears to have been a move away from the portfolio of assessment methodology in Government policy. At Open Awards we have been long term proponents of this style of assessment. In this article we explain where we have seen these shifts and outline why we still think portfolios are great and why there is still a place for them.

As we all know, over the past couple of years there has been a lot of reform in education and qualifications. One of the more noticeable trends has been a push for more summative external assessments. First performance points were removed from qualifications without externally marked assessments, then Tech Certs and Tech Level qualifications were introduced, which required significant amounts of external assessment. At the same time GCSEs, A-Levels and Apprenticeships are now being reformed with similar demands being made.

We certainly don’t have a problem with external assessment. It is an extremely valid method of checking that learners have met a specific standard. It can provide a robust and objective view of an individual’s performance in a skill or knowledge of a subject area. It is particularly appropriate for learners taking an academic route, as this style of assessment tends to be one of the predominant models in higher education. Indeed, we also use this for some of our own qualifications, such as Functional Skills.

However we still strongly believe there is a place for the portfolio method in qualifications.

Here are 7 reasons why:

  1. For many subjects and occupations it is more realistic to work in this way. In real life there aren’t many jobs where you are required to complete tasks in one hour under exam conditions

  2. It provides a great body of evidence for the employer and learner to show their prospective employer or learning provider what they can do. This can be far more informative than a simple exam grade in many cases.

  3. It is more inclusive. Many learners struggle in an examination setting. The pressure, nerves and time constraints do not allow them to perform at their best. In addition, examinations can discriminate against special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) learners, who may struggle to interpret the rubric or decode the text. In contrast a portfolio allows these learners to really showcase the skills they have developed.

  4. Quality assurance for portfolios of assessment is robust and well established. Many awarding organisations, like Open Awards, have a long heritage of externally verifying portfolios of assessment. We have a range of methods we use to ensure we only award qualifications to those learners with portfolios that meet the standards we set. These range from sampling learners work to quality reviewing and risk rating the providers with whom we work

  5. It provides tutors and learners with a more accurate picture of individual performance. Exams offer a result or grade, but often it is difficult to extract further information on where the individual has excelled and where there are areas for further development. Portfolios are marked in situ meaning the learner receives detailed feedback and the tutor gets a comprehensive overview of how the learner and class are doing.

  6. It promotes positive learner engagement. As the learners are involved in setting and determining the assessment it can be moulded around their interests and strengths. If the assessment task is centred around a topic the group is passionate about then this can be really motivating and help everyone excel.

  7. It can be easily adapted to incorporate new technologies. Many centres are looking at how they can respond to the FELTAG agenda and portfolios can form part of this. Learning can be adapted so that it can be delivered through online channels and evidence can be collected through electronic portfolios. This can also speed up external verification which can be done remotely providing the appropriate permissions are made available to the awarding organisation.

Open Awards offers a range of qualifications which are assessed through a portfolio of evidence. Find out more in the products section of our website.

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