Grades are the school system’s base in many European countries. They are a short sign for “very good” or “good” or “insufficient” work. E.g. the software “iWebfolio” supports grading and enables the reviewers to grade single e-portfolio elements. According to the examination regulations in a lot of countries; grades are traditionally and necessary.
For example, a "grading scale" can be used,
in the following example with 11 different grades.
But often it seems not appropriate to “grade” students or their portfolio work with a single mark: If the work was hard and the project a larger one, it can even be disappointing to get “only” a mark, even if it is good. Chris Rust (2007) stated in his current paper “towards a scholarship of assessment”: “Yet much current practice in the use of marks and the arrival at degree classification decisions is not only unfair but is intellectually and morally indefensible, and statistically invalid – despite the often disproportionate amount of staff time that is spent on so-called ‘quality assurance procedures’ to do with assessment” (Towards a scholarship of assessment. In: Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 32, No. 2, April 2007, pp. 229-237., p. 233).
Most of the times not only one criteria is evaluated. So often a "rubric" is used for a better illustration of the grading.
The most widespread form of rating may be the use of matrices. Such a matrix usually consists of different competencies on the one hand (e.g. "critical thinking" or "understanding of society & culture") and different levels of those competencies on the other hand (e. g. "introductory", "intermediate", "advanced"). The tutor can sort single elements or works of the student into the matrix and by that the student can see, which competencies (s)he has improved and which (s)he still needs to improve.
"Comments" give the tutors the ability to write a resumed comment about single e-portfolio elements or the whole portfolio. It may consist of a few words but may also be written as full text, which addresses the student personally. Besides the effect of improving the students’ ability of self-reflection it can give the student the feeling, that his work has really been reviewed and taken seriously.
As Acker (2005) states, "to the extent that the quality of the review correlates to improved student performance, an instructor should offer rich feedback". We also support Acker's postulations that a software tool itself has to provide templates and/or guidelines to assist the faculty in providing this improved commentary on learner work. (Acker, S. (2005) Overcoming Obstacles to authentic eportfolio assessment. In: Campus Technology ).
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The project is managed by the Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft , if you have any questions or contributions, please contact the project co-ordinator Wolf Hilzensauer