A person would want to present or record his or her personal accomplishments or achievements over time. A structural collection of this information differs with respect to career field of the individuals or their experience.
Such a structural consolidation of a person’s progress or achievements presented in a formal record is called a portfolio. A portfolio may consist of materials illustrating one’s abilities and may be in form of resume, a notebook or any other presentation containing the original document relating to the individual abilities.
A portfolio with one’s academic experiences and achievements in line with the professional growth and development is referred to as academic portfolio and is prepared to cove a given period of time. In this essay we shall discuss what is really meant by the term academic portfolio and what its use is. We shall also look at a brief history of academic portfolio and what its content is.
History of Academic Portfolio
Academic portfolio is a clear history of one’s academic development including the personal work and out put realized, self evaluation and the feedback that is received in his of service at work. It also stipulates the future plans of an individual in his academic progression. Portfolios have changed from being used for education achievements alone and they are now used in all career categories to record performance, skills and experience gained at work.
The use of academic portfolio has also changed over time is currently vastly used in evaluating individual performance in a certain occupation. All employers in the world today rely on the academic portfolio in order to mitigate the risk involved in recruiting employees. Academic portfolio was initially taken as a project that every student must accomplish after accomplishing an academic degree (Stewart 2010, 1).
Currently, the portfolio is a continuous record of personal journey that one goes through in the education profession and including all the experience gained that enhance the education progression. Academic portfolio is updated as time continues and as more experience is gained over time. There are different formats that are used for the preparation or presentation of academic portfolio depending on the use for which it is prepared.
There is no specific format that is universally accepted for the preparation of the academic portfolio but it should be formal and presentable. As regard to the content, it is for the individuals to decide on what to include in the portfolio. Every academic portfolio development depends on the purpose for which it is prepared but there are some basic details that must be included for the document to be regarded as academic portfolio.
Definition of an Academic Portfolio
Arter (2003, 1) describes academic portfolio in the context of student portfolio and argues that the definition of portfolio varies depending on the individuals and usage. He describes a portfolio in what he regards as the general definition that, “…a portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that tells the story of student achievement or growth” (Arter, 2003, 1).
This definition is limited to the student’s context but academic portfolio goes a step further to describe the abilities of the individual. According to IML, an academic portfolio could be described as “…an organized record of your academic experiences, achievements and professional development over a period of time” (IML, 2007, 1).
This definition goes a step further to include the professional development which is polished through working. In this context, the academic portfolio will demonstrate the quality of work that one is engaged in and the development in it over the period covered by the portfolio. The academic portfolio is a document that shows the achievements, the range of experience and training that one has undertaken and the skills and the abilities gained.
The Uses of the Academic Portfolio
As mentioned earlier, the use of the academic portfolio has changed with time from demonstrating only the academic credentials to including the skills and the abilities that have been gained through the work that one does or the various responsibilities undertaken. Presented in this manner, the academic portfolio is useful in a number of ways both by the individual preparing it and the others with interest in it.
One of the basic uses of the academic portfolio is for students to market themselves to different prospective employers (IML, 2007, 1).
Students use it to communicate their academic achievements, skills acquired and the ability they have to apply the skills in a working environment. For students to secure opportunities in the current competitive market, they have to have a creative and informative portfolio that convinces the prospective employers that they are the best candidates for the available posts.
Although the academic portfolio does not work magic, the way the document is presented determines the kind of decision that the employer will make. The document must be able to communicate the qualifications of the candidate.
Academic portfolio is also used by the experienced professionals in transitioning between jobs. In this case the content of the portfolio must be relevant to the job the professional is wishing to move to.
The experience, skills and abilities indicated in the document must be commensurate to the requirements of the employment being sought. The employer will use the portfolio to gauge the skills, abilities and experience of the applicants in relation to the requirements of the new post being filled (UWEC, 2009, 1).
The academic portfolios of different applicants are compared and the one with the most desired qualifications for the job is selected. The employers will therefore use this method of recruiting to mitigate the risk that might be associated with recruitment. This is because without the documents the employer might employ the unqualified candidate.
Professional portfolios are also used by the faculties to appraise the performance of the members. This will help in determining the qualified professional for a certain promotion. The professionals with outstanding performance within the faculty will be selected for promotion.
Such kind of portfolio will have the proven record of performance of the professional within the faculty. This may be indicated by different awards that have been achieved by the professional(s) because of showing exemplary performance. As stated by IML, “Extracts from a portfolio can be particularly useful for supporting applications for tenure or promotion.” (IML, 2007, 1). To such kind of professionals, the portfolio shows their career goals and other useful information for promotion like their career progression.
The academic portfolio can also be used by an individual for personal evaluation. In this case an individual examining his portfolio from time to time will gain insight about what he has been able to achieve over a period of time. This will enable them to evaluate their academic and career progression as well as identifying their strengths that have been proven through career progression.
Through this examination, the individual will be able to know their potential and define their next level of career that they would want and are eligible to pursue. They will also be able to know whether the career vision they had at the time of career commencement is being met or will be met in future.
Academic portfolio could also be useful in networking and resource building. In teaching profession, portfolio gives expands one’s chances of participate in teaching related events that helps one to build up resources that will help the become better in their career (IML, 2007, 1).
Meeting with other professionals in such events, seminars and conventions enables one to gain more resource that one can apply in classroom and improve their performance. Academic portfolio is very useful for persons seeking tenure consideration. For such aspirants, the portfolio will enable them to be considered for tenured positions or the promotion.
The portfolio in this case will need to be updated and the experiences that are relevant be indicated for the recruiting team to use them for appraisal. The portfolio will be the determining factor on whether one will be hired or not. It therefore need to be presented vide the credentials under consideration.
The Contents of the Academic Portfolio
The content of the academic portfolios depends on the person preparing it and the purpose for which it is being prepared. It is up to the individual to decide what to include depending on the academic field he is in and the job that he is applying for. According to UWEC (2009, 1), there is not a standard content that should be included in the portfolio but some academicians have argued that some information or details are important in any portfolio.
Some details are important in academic portfolios and one should consider including in the academic portfolio preparation. Firstly, the students should include the reports of different internships that they have undertaken and any other relevant experience gained.
This will help the employers to gauge the extent to which the candidates were involved in formal responsibilities and whether it is important for the post being applied for. Secondly the students should have in their portfolio the letters of recommendations showing how they handled various responsibilities as well as proving that they actually handled them (Stewart 2010, 1).
They should also have certificates of training that will prove that they attended a certain institution and the course they pursued. The certificates will also indicate the level of academic performance attained by the student. They should also include resumes and the reference list.
The resume will indicate a summary of the academic details, the work experience gained, the career profile and a description of various responsibilities handled, when and where they were handled and the skills and experienced gained. The reference list will include the persons who should be contacted to verify the information presented by the candidate in the portfolio.
For instance there should be a referee to be contacted concerning the internship reports presented by the candidates. They should also indicate the skills knowledge and strengths they are endowed with (Stewart 2010, 1). All these information depends on the purpose for which the portfolio is prepared and the academic field the candidate or any other person is in.
The academic portfolio is important in the career life of all professionals and even students seeking jobs after school. This is because the uses of academic portfolio are important in the career of every individual professional. The portfolios are prepared depending on the purpose they are aimed to fulfill. The content also depends on the purpose that is sought to be accomplished.
Arter, J.A. (2003).UAPR FAQ – What is a student portfolio? North Carolina: NC State University. Retrieved from http://www.ncsu.edu/uap/academic-standards/uapr/FAQ/UAPRFAQwhatstudentportfolio.html
Institute for interactive media and learning (IML) (2007). Developing an Academic Portfolio: Guidelines. Sydney: University Of Technology Sydney. http://www.iml.uts.edu.au/learnteach/career/career_dev/acporfolio.html#what
Stewart, B. (2010). Academic Portfolios: Realizing the Potential. Charleston: The Citadel Career Center/Business Faculty. Retrieved from http://www.google.co.ke/search?q=Charleston&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) (2009). FAQs about Portfolios. Eau Claire:
UWEC Career Services. Retrieved from http://www.uwec.edu/Career/Online_Library/Portfolios.htm