How Does Dr. Johnson Use Portfolio Assessment 
   in His Class?

     Here's what he said when asked: 

For business writing, I use a system of three portfolios: a career portfolio (a letter of inquiry, a letter of application, and a resume), an instruction portfolio (a memo and a set of instructions), and a recommendation portfolio (a memo, a progress report, an annotated bibliography, a letter of transmittal, and a formal recommendation report).  Once a portfolio has been submitted, I give it a grade on a 100 point grading scale.

 I find this system particularly well suited for teaching business writing.  The class is “the company,” with the instructor as figurehead and the students as employees.  However, I treat them as stockholders and encourage them to help the business build and grow by letting them pick their topics, deadlines, and take control of the class whenever possible.  I am constantly amazed at the excellence they can achieve when allowed the room to do so.  Rarely do they encourage poor performance.

 Portfolios, accordingly, take the emphasis away from the product (and therefore the grade) and keep it focused on the process.  Through empowerment and control, students participate in a learning experience both interesting and challenging for they are invested.  They are in control of their own work and demand that their peers perform as they themselves do.  If only one student strives to do this in a class, he/she brings the others up to his/her level.  Usually, there are more than one.

Click here for a copy of Dr. Johnson's Portfolio Grading Sheet.