Assessing Student Eportfolios: Focus on Standards Rubrics

Avoid Non-Standards Based items in eportfolio rubric

I’ve been looking at various eportfolio assessment tools such as rubrics and checklists and I’ve been shocked by what I found. Many of these rubrics or scales include evaluating these non-standards items: “creativity”; “visually appealing”; “has variety”; and “links work”. Usually these non-standards items receive the same point value in the rubric as content. So if students have a beautiful, creative, varied, and well-linked eportfolio but has no valuable content about their standards-based learning, they can still score very high(80% or higher).

I believe that educators should assess an eportfolio using the national or state rubrics. For example, I would use the National Council of NCTM’s standards or the state math standards rubric as a basis for evaluating a math eportfolio. I would use the NCTE or the state’s English rubrics to assess an English eportfolio. If a school is measuring something for which there are not standards,then the school will create their own measurable standards. If we believe that an eportfolio show a student’s progress in the standards, then we will want to use state or national standards rubric to evaluate the student’s progress.

If we want to give an assessment “grade” to the non-content items of the eportfolio, then that grade should be independent of the content grade and count much less. Perhaps the content eportflio grade counts 90% and the non-content grade counts 10%.

What rubric do you use to evaluate your student eportfolios? How much does that rubric focus on national or state standards? How much does it focus on non-standards items?



5 Responses to “Assessing Student Eportfolios: Focus on Standards Rubrics”

  1. 1 Sean Keesler April 29, 2010 at 9:10 pm


    What do you think about the AAC&U Value rubrics?

    • 2 hgtuttle April 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      I am glad that they have identified many diverse areas to assess.
      I, personally, do not like rubrics that go from 4- do it really well to 1- don’t do it because they usually are not specific enough for students to understand.
      For example,for the Oral presentation 4 is “Organizational pattern (specific introduction and conclusion, sequenced material within the body, and transitions) is clearly and consistently observable and is skillful and makes the content of the presentation cohesive.” What does clearly mean? consistently observable? Skillful? cohesive? If three people observed the same student, they can have vastly different score based on their definition of these words. Furthermore, students would not be able to determine if they are a “4” or not. They cannot use it for self-diagnosis and improvement.

  2. 3 Sean Keesler May 1, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I see your point.

    As I understand it, these rubrics were formed as the result of identifying eportfolio assessment practices at multiple universities, finding the common ground between them and then drafting a set of rubrics that represented what they saw as their combined best practice.

    In light of your comment, I wonder if these would be useful as a starting point for conversation with a faculty looking to begin to get serious about assessment, rather than something that a program could use “as is”. If someone were to facilitate a faculty to implement a set of rubrics based on the AAC&U model, they would need to prompt them to answer the sorts of questions you ask…

    i.e. “What does skillful mean in your discipline/class/program?”

    • 4 hgtuttle May 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      Yes, Sean, they need to define what the words in the rubric mean. A faculty discussion is one tool.
      I use another. In all of my writing and oral presentation classes, I give two student-made exemplars for each type of writing/speaking. Students can see not only the skill but also the level of the skill through these exemplars. The abstract terms in the rubric become observable in the exemplars. They see that the skills can be expressed in diverse ways but still be the same skill at the same high level. We are all on the same “academic expectation” page due to the exemplars. I select student work at the proficient, not at the above proficient level, to be exemplary work since often above proficient means above the understanding and achievement of most students.

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