Portfolios enable students to gain deeper insights about themselves and their knowledge by examining their academic and personal experiences and the relationships among those experiences. Portfolios help students to integrate and synthesize what they have learned, develop an intellectual identity, and make deliberate choices in their learning careers.

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Reasons to use portfolios

Connecting the Dots

Portfolios help students see connections between subject areas, curricular learning, and co-curricular experiences. Integrating experiences helps students develop intellectually and personally, and enables them to more clearly envision their academic path at Duke.

Intellectual Journey and Artifacts

Students need proof of their learning and capabilities beyond their resume and transcript. They need to think critically about their learning and how they are doing it, and be able to select artifacts that will effectively represent their experience in academic applications and career searches.

Digital Presence

Every student and professional needs to be able to build a public, digital presence.

Assessment for Learning

Program administrators can use portfolios to assess courses, departments, certificates, and university curricula.


How Portfolios Promote Significant Learning

Significant Learning

We can use Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning to demonstrate how portfolios can help students become critical thinkers and intellectual participants in the world around them.

The Nuts and Bolts

Assigning a portfolio is one of the high-impact practices (i.e. process writing, collaborative research, study abroad) that helps students practice critical thought and skills.

Grasping the Bigger Picture

Portfolios can help students gain a new perspective of their education beyond individual courses. By asking them to describe evidence of their learning and relate knowledge and ideas to their personal experiences, students will become self-aware of the learning process and how fields are interrelated.

Self Reflection

Self-reflection is a key element of critical thinking. Portfolios aren’t just a place for students to demonstrate the development of their knowledge and capabilities. Portfolios provide a space for students to reflect on the ways their learning and experiences have affected their interests, values, and perceptions of themselves and others.


Go deeper »   Learn more about the research on using portfolios for teaching and learning