Yancey begins her article by stating that “what we ask students to do is who we ask them to be” (20). She uses this statement as a way of thinking about the differences between print and electronic portfolios, which leads her to make the following three claims:
1. The student represented in each type of portfolio is different because “these spaces that studens are invited to make their own offer fundamentally different intellectual and affective opportunities” (23).
2. Examining print and electronic portfolios helps us to see what kind of intellectual work each makes possible (23).
3. Given these points, educators need to consider the following question when designing their courses: “which kind of portfolio, which kind of composition, and why?” (23).
Yancey compares print portfolios to palimptexts, a term from literary critic Michael Davidson, which she defines as being a “verbal application of palimpsest” that invites us to read the text “in its own developmental context” (21-22). Electronic portfolios, on the other hand, are more palimpsests, which is a multiply layered text. These differences are important because arrangement and delivery become a more integral part of the process of designing an electronic portfolio.
Yancey identifies three types of electronic portfolios: an online assessment system that requires students to use templates, (25-26) “print-uploaded” (print portfolio made digital) (26), and “web sensible” (27). While print portfolios (and print-uploaded electronic portfolios) are linear and more singular, digital portfolios are “located in multiple and multiple kinds of relationships.” Digital portfolios have multiple entry points and “invite other narratives” and “arrangements of other selves.” Unlike print portfolios, which are “published only once,” digital portfolios are more open-ended and located outside and between composing sites. Yancey concludes her discussion by asking what the effects of digital portfolios mean for the field of composition, for teaching composing, and for teaching graduate seminars.