Hesse gives several benefits of students creating portfolios, including that through portfolios, students will display ability to perform in a variety of rhetorical situations and display development through the semester. Can you think of other advantages? And can you think of difficulties with assessment that can occur?
There are definite advantages to the portfolio system. As Hesse brings up, the rhetorical aspect is a significant part of the process. If taught properly, the students should have a working cognitive knowledge of how their work functions and be able to work with it in such a way that the portfolio itself becomes an added layer of critical analysis beyond that of the original essays. Students are in charge of their own submissions which requires them to consider their work beyond that of just editing. Control over their own work can have an empowering effect that makes their involvement more personal, their rhetorical response more specific, and their overall production more apt to be of higher quality. Likewise, the self reflection portion of the portfolio is an excellent tool for students to delve deeper into the writing process while at the same time maintaining an 'objective' quality. They are able to see aspects of their writing that they may not normally have made connection too if they were not given the opportunity to look at their work from an outside view point. Even if they lack in certain areas, just being able to cognitively see these weaknesses in the end turns out to be beneficial. They know (or should know) what areas they need to work on. They also have a chance to contemplate their strengths which is just as important. Students can see what worked and how to continue to use these methods either in their final edits or in future written works.
There are however, possible draw backs. For one, the implementation of a portfolio can be the downfall from the onset. Some teachers maintain a 'non' grade stance on the portfolio with little to now ranking feedback throughout the semester. This can be an issue when a final product is a 'rank'. How are students to know where they stand as comments can be at times inaccurate to a rank. Also, the portfolio is typically a large chunk of the final grade and some might see this also as a downfall depending on how smooth the process of the portfolio was set out and how clear the standards/rubric of it is. Largely the portfolio is a positive endeavor that moves away from a heavy ranking based system and creates a streamlined reader interface but again most of this depends on the clarity of the process provided by the instructor. This could be said of most projects, but seeing as though the portfolio is a final large chunk, any issues that may have come up earlier in the semester is delayed until is too late.