Portfolio and oral exam

The student submits a portfolio and is orally examined on the basis of this portfolio. The oral exam can take the form of the student’s presentation of the portfolio, or the internal (or external) examiner asking questions about the whole of the portfolio or parts of it, or the student’s further reflections based on the portfolio, or combinations of this.

In all cases, the oral element can serve as a test of authenticity and origin of the portfolio – in other words, whether the portfolio submitted really was produced by the student.

As with other combination exams, consideration has to be given to whether marking should be based on the oral performance alone or whether the portfolio work should also be included.

This assessment method is also suited for group examination.

Learning objective that can be addressed using this assessment method
Knowledge of theory, method and practice (X)
Understanding and reflecting on theory, method and practice X
Applying methods and tools X
Assessing problem definitions and selecting solution models X
Communicate and discuss academic issues (X)
Dealing with complex situations – in the context of studying or work X
Ability to independently initiate collaboration  
Taking responsibility for personal learning and development X

X indicates that this assessment method is suitable for testing the learning outcome. (X) indicates that this assessment method is of only limited use for this.

Evaluating the method of assessment

Assessment Criteria
Validity High content validity, as the portfolio element can bring together basically everything the study programme entails. Validity can be high, too, if the student’s abilities are to be assessed within a complex, complicated phenomenon – here, the oral element could, so to speak, start at a much higher classificatory level because the student is bringing documentation of knowledge, abilities and skill-sets into the exam situation.
Reliability It is important to establish clear marking criteria for the portfolio to ensure that the strengths of the portfolio in terms of relevance and validity are not diminished by imprecise evaluation resulting in poor reliability. Rubric is a good example of a tool to ensure this.

The overall reliability of this combined exam can be quite high, however, as the oral element gives the examiner the opportunity to ask specific detailed questions about relevant aspects.
Backwash effect from testing to teaching The student prepares for the exam throughout the teaching process, which also offers a degree of confidence in the exam situation: it does not solely depend on performance on the one day of the exam.
Resources Very resource-intensive, as the teacher and possibly also an external examiner have to assess/review the portfolio and be present for the oral element.
Digitisation Enables the portfolio to incorporate electronic elements, e.g. audio, images, film.
Acceptance The portfolio provides a very individual picture of an individual’s abilities; accordingly, in many cases, this type of exam provides more information to potential employers than an exam mark or diploma.