The advantages of portfolio assessment for students

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An art student’s portfolio is a curated collection of pieces that demonstrate one’s artistic ability, interests, and activities. Artistic activities may include commissioned works such as a poster or brochure. During a portfolio evaluation, students may seek feedback on finished pieces, completed and semi-completed portfolios, works in progress, or even working concepts. The process of receiving and responding to constructive criticism allows students the opportunity to make changes and improvements before submitting their portfolios.

Improved self-evaluation

In addition to receiving feedback from an instructor, the portfolio evaluation encourages students to critically assess their own work. While the instructor provides insight into what the admissions committee may be looking for and offer suggestions regarding how the student might improve, this process also encourages the student to take a critically objective view of their own work.

One-on-one feedback

Unlike a class or critique group, a portfolio assessment offers the advantage of providing one-on-one feedback. A private lesson offers the best chance of accurately determining the artist’s individual strengths and weaknesses, providing a plan of action for improving their art. Some students also find that a private lesson encourages them to bring pieces they are less sure of, which promotes creative growth.

Promoting positive student – teacher dynamics

The portfolio assessment simulates the kinds of scenarios students will experience in a post-secondary art program. In mimicking the classroom environment on a smaller scale, the portfolio assessment presents students with the opportunity to ask questions and make comments in an open and relaxed space while receiving criticism. This one-on-one session gives students added experience in an academic environment and may help build confidence in their work and abilities.

Artist accountability

It is not uncommon for students to lack a sense of accountability is their artwork. Accountability is similar to responsibility – it might be described as the “why?” behind a piece, or a thoughtful explanation (account) of certain artistic choices. In encouraging students to critically reflect on their work, the portfolio assessment fosters the development of artistic accountability.

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