Peter B. Orlik Central Michigan University
Creative portfolios have long been a fixture in the business world as a means of demonstrating their preparer's artistic, design, or writing abilities. In many ways, the use of the portfolio instrument as a self- or programmatic assessment mechanism is simply an evaluative extension of this practice. Instead of merely showcasing what the author believes to be his or her best work, the assessment portfolio provides a panoramic view of that person's professional development experiences -- and thereby also serves to measure the contribution to those experiences made by the educational institution from which that individual hopes to graduate.
There is a wealth of trade press guidance on how to prepare creative portfolios, and there is a burgeoning body of academic literature on the use of portfolios as student and programmatic assessment devices. In one short chapter, we cannot even attempt to survey this vast field. Instead, our main purpose here is to focus exclusively and pragmatically on how to structure a portfolio to meet the specific assessment needs of a communication studies curricula.
It should be kept in mind, however, that no student-generated programmatic assessment instrument will succeed if it does not clearly serve the needs and gratifications of its preparer. Therefore, it is an underlying tenet of our discussion that the demonstrable student benefit accruing from portfolio preparation must be at least as great as the evaluative benefit received by that student's sponsoring department.
Many of the insights that underpin assessment portfolio theory were derived from advances in the field of experiential learning. In 1971, The