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Exam: Online portfolio exam

Brief description

An online portfolio exam consists of a number of small assignments which the students must prepare during the course of the semester. The last one of these is a self-chosen theoretical reflection of the previous assignments. This means that the exam process is divided into elements and is adjusted during the course of the semester by incorporated feedback rounds.

Motivation for the exercise and required outcome

By using an online portfolio exam you create a more dynamic type of examination which focuses on formative assessment. The students work actively with their writing process in that they are required to currently reflect on and improve their academic work. Using peer feedback as part of the formative assessment enables students to participate constructively in their own learning process as well as that of their fellow students. This also provides you as a teacher with an overview of the progress of students and enables you to capture any comprehension problems when they occur.

Performing the exercise

  • You must set a number of small portfolio assignments (normally three to five), which must be distributed across the entire semester and constitute a part of the final portfolio exam.

  • You must make it possible for the students to submit the assignment papers using an online service. This may for instance be a blog, Brightspace, OneDrive or a similar service.

  • In each portfolio assignment, a short procedure must be followed:

    • First, you must set the portfolio assignment. This implies that you describe what the assignment response must contain.  Remember that progression and relevance should be reflected in the entire process of solving the portfolio assignment. 

    • You set a deadline for the students to submit a draft (of approx. one standard page). The students must have time to select and read relevant literature and prepare a draft for their portfolio assignment.

    • After the deadline, you must give the students feedback on their assignment responses – or facilitate peer feedback among the students. The feedback may for instance be given in writing in a blog, in online discussions or as a type of question time during teaching activities.

    • This procedure continues until all portfolio assignments of the semester have been submitted, and feedback has been given.

  • At the end of the semester, you must set a final reflective assignment for the students; this implies that they submit an exam assignment containing a discussion and conclusion regarding their previous portfolio submissions. 


Variation options:

  • You may ask the students to give feedback on each other’s assignments, either in peer feedback groups or in the online service you chose for the portfolio. 

  • The tasks may vary regarding design and format. It may be a requirement, for instance, that the assignment is communicated using different media, or that it includes individual tasks and/or tasks to be solved in groups. 

  • You may consider if the assignments should be submitted in a public blog or in a closed system such as Brightspace. The public format may cause the students to be more aware of the communication aspect and the role of the submitted assignments as a resource for themselves as well as for the general public.  Other students may be reluctant to write in a public forum.


    Examples of practice

      You will need

      • A service through which the students can submit their portfolio assignments and in which feedback may be given. This may be a blog, Brightspace, OneDrive etc.

      Worth considering

      • Can you coordinate with other academic subjects and teachers so as to ensure that the weeks in which students must submit their portfolio assignments are not too demanding, which may cause the quality of the submitted assignment responses to decrease?

      • How do you intend to give feedback, and how much time will you spend on this? You may consider giving the first feedback and subsequently choose peer feedback between students.