Linking assessment to undergraduate student capabilities through portfolio examination

Anthony J. O'Sullivan, Peter Harris, Chris S. Hughes, Susan M. Toohey, Chinthaka Balasooriya, Gary Velan, Rakesh K. Kumar, H. Patrick McNeil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Portfolios are an established method of assessment, although concerns do exist around their validity for capabilities such as reflection and self-direction. This article describes an e-portfolio which closely aligns learning and reflection to graduate capabilities, incorporating features that address concerns about portfolios. Students are required to complete assessments linked to graduate capabilities. In Year 3, a portfolio review occurs (205-248 students per year), focusing on students' grades and feedback from assessments and a reflective essay is submitted. In the essay, students reflect on their progress, identify areas of weakness and detail plans for improvement. Progress in each capability is summatively graded against specific criteria and feedback is provided. Students progressively accumulate evidence of learning linked to the graduate capabilities. The provision of sufficient structure prevents evasion of areas of weakness. Importantly, the equal weighting given to all graduate capabilities emphasises that competence in all areas is required. The requirement for a degree of self-direction and reflection in all assessments promotes regular review of progress. This e-portfolio explicitly links graduate outcomes with assessment in order to drive learning. Further research is required to evaluate acceptability to students, as well as the efficacy of portfolios in developing reflective practice and self-directed learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-391
Number of pages13
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • assessment
  • competencies
  • outcome-based teaching
  • portfolio
  • reflective practice


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