In courses that are project-oriented, traditional assessments like tests may not match the course goals or objectives. A portfolio, to be viewed by the professor, fellow students, a committee, or future employers, may be a better fit. Some departments require their students to use an electronic portfolio to gather materials over the course of their school career, for example one project or paper per class, and others might require students to use the portfolio for several projects from the same course.
Pieces in a portfolio are most effective when they are accompanied by a reflection by the student, giving the context for the item, the conditions under which it was created, its strengths, and how it might be improved. They should also be clear about their intended audience – is it future employers? Fellow students? The instructor? The intended audience will change what needs to be shared and the tone of the reflection.
Electronic portfolio systems range from free systems (usually these need to be set up on your own server) to commercial systems, that charge a fee per user. A student portfolio of their work, on a web page they created for themselves, may also be considered an electronic portfolio.
As with most technology and posting of personal information, privacy should be considered when using a portfolio. While grades may or may not be posted on the system, many electronic portfolios allow instructors to send assignments back to students for revision, not allowing an item to be posted until it meets specific standards.