Student learning portfolios have become increasingly popular in educational administration preparation programs. In the 2004 national study being reported here, more than 90% of the sample population indicated that student portfolios were being used in some manner in their administration preparation programs, for such purposes as (a) documenting student growth and development relative to performance and program standards, (b) integrating course work and related field requirements for the purpose of connecting theory and practice, and (c) promoting self-reflection and learning on the part of students. Although student learning portfolios represent only one method of assessing a student's knowledge and personal growth, their many uses and range of application provide the potential for guiding, facilitating, and assessing purposeful student learning outcomes in a more meaningful way than most other methods do.
The term, portfolio, stems from the Latin roots of porta, meaning to carry, and folio, meaning page or sheet. "A portfolio is an organized, goaldriven documentation of your professional growth and achievement experience... Although it is a collection of documents, a portfolio is tangible evidence of a wide range of knowledge, dispositions, and skills that you possess as a growing professional" (Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles, & Wyman, 2001, p. 3). Evans (1995) defined a professional portfolio as an ongoing collection of personal thoughts about one's goals and experiences that is accompanied by reflection and self-assessment. "It represents who you are, what you do, where you have been, where you are, where you want to go, and how you plan on getting there" (Evans, 1995, p. 11).
Certainly portfolios are not new to the profession of education or to other professions such as architecture, business, law, engineering, art, and sales. For example, architects organize samples of their drawings and work history for the purpose of gathering consideration for work interviews, providing evidence of work quality for consideration as part of the screening process in contractual competition, or documenting the attainment of job requirements for personal advancement and merit evaluations. In the field of education, portfolios historically have been used for such purposes as internship logs, field project journals, activity mappings, specific course learnings, and as a means to reveal personal growth and development. Portfolios used in student teaching, for example, generally have included records of class lesson content, student activities, instructional methodology, and other information that is used for professional counseling and self-reflection (Campbell et al., 2001). Administrative internship logs have been popular instructional tools in graduate preparation for many years. Although the use of the personal resume or vita has been the traditional method for job applications, the interview portfolio has become increasingly popular for this purpose as well (Costantino & De Lorenzo, 2002). For example, while the personal resume most often includes a statement of career goals, a summary of work history, and a listing of references, the interview portfolio consists of a limited number of artifacts that create a showcase of exemplary documents representative of the applicant's best work and accomplishments for the purpose of gaining employment (Constantino & De Lorenzo, 2002). Furthermore, as noted by Campbell et al. (2001), "State departments of education are increasing requirements for compelling evidence of performance" (p. 2).
Until the completion of this study, the extent to which student learning portfolios were being used in educational administration programs was generally unknown. Responding to anecdotal evidence of increased portfolio usage in such programs, this study sought to document the nature and extent of usage nationwide.
A study questionnaire was sent to 90 universities with graduate programs in educational administration. …