Elbow and Belanoff: “Portfolios as a Substitute for Proficiency Examinations”

29 Oct

In this article, Elbow and Belanoff discuss the why and how of portfolios that the authors were experimenting with at Stony Brook. Elbow and Belanoff acknowledge that there are some difficulties in using the portfolio system, especially for teachers who are using it for the first time, but they really like how portfolios contrast the “plastic” and “safe” proficiency exam. The portfolio system encourages students to “show some genuine thought and investment” in their writing, while the proficiency exam encourages them to stick to tropes and formulas. Elbow and Belanoff also tout the positive effects that portfolios have on teachers and grades. Instructors “retain almost complete power” over their students’ grades, but other instructors are given a little bit of suggestion in assessment. The authors say that this dynamic allows instructors on both sides to give better feedback to students, because they’re worried less about grades and more about the student improving.

1 Comment

Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


One response to “Elbow and Belanoff: “Portfolios as a Substitute for Proficiency Examinations”

  1. jeskew2013

    October 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Whenever I hear someone talk about the benefits of eportfolios, I always wonder how they manage student’s anxieties about grades. I can only speak for myself, but my students are absolutely obsessed with their grades. If I used a portfolio instead of giving them individual grades, I’m pretty sure they’d go nuts.

    So, my question is this: what methods should instructors use to prepare students for the use of portfolios?


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