Check out this opinion piece from today's Inside Higher Ed:
The Limitations of Portfolios [October 16, 2009]
By Richard J. Shavelson , Stephen Klein and Roger Benjamin
"Colleges have come to realize the need to assess and improve student learning and to report their efforts to students, faculty, administrators, and the public; including policy makers and prospective students and their parents. The question is how to accomplish this. The roar of yesterday’s Spellings Commission and its vision of accountability is background noise to today’s cacophony of calls for more transparency and campus-based, authentic assessment of student learning. Some of the advocates for more authentic measures, such as Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, have suggested using electronic portfolios -- collections of a student’s work products, such as term papers, research papers or descriptions, and the student’s written thoughts (“reflections”) about these work products and curricular experiences that are bundled together on an electronic platform. The presumed merits of portfolios, such as their supposed ability to drill down into the local curriculum, have been extolled elsewhere. Portfolios are simply not up to the task of providing the necessary data for making a sound assessment of student learning. They do not and cannot yield the trustworthy information that is needed for this purpose. However, there are approaches that can provide some of the information that is required..."
[Click on the link for the rest of the story: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/10/16/shavelson ]