Technology has revolutionized the way in which educational institutions report student learning outcomes (Ketcheson, 2011). An institutional portfolio is a compilation of evidence that shows whether or not the institution’s missions, outcomes and other objectives are being executed. It is proof if the objectives are working or not. These objectives can include curriculum, assessment and other means of realizing outcomes for the institution. This is an important tool for educational administration as it not only provides a way to evaluate students but faculty and staff as well.
Accreditation is pivotal to educational bodies. Therefore, making a system that will make the accreditation easier is always desired. Over time using e-portfolios for the accreditation process has been welcomed on both ends. Accrediting agencies also find a benefit in using institutional portfolios. If e-portfolios are used, then it becomes less cumbersome in sharing information.
Traditional system-wide evaluations are more generalized evaluations that look at education as a whole. This is important as well because as a unit the education system needs to be functioning. However institutional portfolios explore the outcomes of individualized systems. The exploration of individual educational organizations is unique to their outcomes.
A lot of faculty members have noted that the portfolios provide a more authentic approach to assessing learning outcomes. The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is a popular assessment used within a portfolio, and many institutions have integrated it into their system. They are pleased with the authentic nature of this kind of assessment (Burnett & Williams, 2009). This kind of portfolio will definitely encounter trial and error. However, in order to meet the projected goals, the portfolios must be organized according to the outcomes that are to be met. This type of organization will involve training and research, but it can be accomplished. In order to achieve the authentic manner of sharing data, colleges and universities are using in innovative strategies (Lorenzo & Ittleson, 2005).
It is argued that creating an institutional portfolio takes a great deal of planning and ongoing support from staff, administrators and faculty. Department profiling is one way that portfolios can be organized. The use of this plan can include, “the effectiveness of curricula, programs, faculty, costs, and institutional support. In addition each profile features an assessment plan, including objectives, plans, tools data, and reflections” (Lorenzo & Ittleson, 2005, p. 5).
Undoubtedly the use of institutional portfolios also has its critics who believe it is another way of asserting control. However, more research has shown that since its onset, institutional portfolios have benefited education. Using them for their intent makes the difference. The ultimate goal has always been about creating ways to better serve students. Student engagement has also been increased by the use of portfolios. It is a way to communicate their student achievement and showcase that learning is taking place (Burnett & Williams, 2009). It is a level of expectation set that students are meeting the objectives and mission of the organization.
- Burnett, M.N. & Williams, J.M. (2009). Institutional uses of rubrics and E-portfolios: Spelman College and Rose-Hulman Institute. Association of American Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/institutional-uses-rubrics-and-e-portfolios-spelman-college-and
- Ketcheson, K. A. (2011). Public Accountability and Reporting: What Should Be the Public Part of Accreditation?. New Directions For Higher Education, 2001(113), 83.
- Lorenzo G. & Ittelson, J. (2005). An overview of institutional e-portfolios. Edcuase Learning Initiative. 1-18.