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Writing portfolios with THspaces

Portfolios allow students to reflect on content, deepen their knowledge, and further develop their writing processes. THspaces helps teachers to structure portfolio work, make results visible, and encourage student exchange.

Context: What is a learning portfolio?

The learning portfolio supports students in “contextualizing knowledge in factual contexts and critically questioning it with the help of systematic reflection of their own learning processes” (Quellmelz & Ruschin, 2013, p. 19).

The core of a learning portfolio should be the reflection of students’ learning progress. Essentially, the learning portfolio is a collection of selected documents, media, or work assignments that students can use to illustrate their own learning progress and the skills they have acquired.

A portfolio can also serve as a medium for reflecting on one’s own writing process. For example, a portfolio can be used as an alternative to the classic term paper. Instead of one text at the end of the semester, students produce several texts over the course of the semester and submit them together as a portfolio, if necessary with an additional reflection on their own writing performance and process.

In the video series “ePortfolio to support self-directed learning“, the HBK Braunschweig addresses the different forms of portfolios in short videos.

Problem: Why use portfolios in teaching?

Critical thinking, personal responsibility, and the ability to cooperate are crucial soft skills in the modern working world. However, within the framework of a traditional course, such as lectures or seminars, there is little time to give students sufficient space for individual reflection. However, many teachers want to create these spaces and integrate suitable methods such as portfolio work into their courses. This allows students to reflect on their learning process during the seminar.

These portfolios, i.e., valuable results from the collaborative work, often remain inaccessible to other students. With THspaces, students can share their results and discuss them with other students and teachers. In this way, their work becomes more visible.

Solution: How can portfolio work on THspaces support teaching?

As a social teaching and learning platform, THspaces creates spaces in courses to digitally accompany project-based and research-based learning and work processes (Kaliva, 2016) and thus promote collaborative but also self-directed learning.

With the help of portfolio work on THspaces, students can critically reflect on their own work results, share peer feedback with their fellow students, and exchange ideas with teachers. This promotes essential soft skills such as personal responsibility and the ability to cooperate.

Solution details: How does it work?

You can find instructions for setting up THspaces here. You can also take a look at the detailed THspaces FAQ.

Teachers can open a Space on THspaces for their students and invite them with a link. It is best if the Space is set up in advance by the teacher so that students can easily find all the information they need.

If you need support or tips on setting up your Space, please contact for didactic advice.

THspaces offers numerous possibilities for using portfolios in teaching. The focus of the course must be included in the planning. We have summarized two options for you:

Focus on cooperation:

If you want to promote collaboration among the students as well as between you and your students, it is a good idea to collect the portfolios in one Space. Students can sort their contributions by assigning a corresponding tag. Other students can also view and comment on these posts. In this way, students can support each other in answering open questions or be inspired by their fellow students. Actively encourage your students to comment, for example, by setting tasks that emphasize feedback as a central part of collaboration.

Focus on critical thinking and personal responsibility:

Anyone can create their own Spaces on THspaces, regardless of their status at the university. This can also be used for portfolio work. The teacher can share work assignments, materials, or media that students should include in their portfolios in a Space that accompanies the course. In their own Space, students can work on these tasks independently and customize the Space according to their wishes. This enables students to focus on solving the task, reflect critically, and organize their work steps autonomously. At the end of the course, the teacher can simply be added as a member and thus get access to the portfolio.

Experiences from teaching

To support the creation of a portfolio entry, guidelines with an outline and questions are helpful. Students can create a portfolio entry by working through the given outline and answering the individual questions. This requires a uniform structure, which can also facilitate the process of giving feedback. If peer feedback is used for the portfolio entries, a guideline with feedback rules and questions for the students should also be created. Both guides can be stored in a central Space, which also links all student Portfolio Spaces to ensure they are easy to find.

Review by Dr. Elisabeth Kaliva (KISD, Faculty of Cultural Studies)

HUL-ProfCast with Prof. Dr. Gabi Reinmann and Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schnapp (Department of Political Science)

In the fifth episode “Comeback of the portfolio”, Prof. Dr. Gabi Reinmann talks to Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schnapp about the use of the learning and study portfolio in university teaching with an excursus on the influence of generative AI in courses (German).

Links & Literature

  • THspaces für die Lehre einrichten
  • Bräuer, G. (2014): Das Portfolio als Reflexionsmedium für Lehrende und Studierende. Opladen, Toronto: Budrich.
  • Kaliva, E. (2016). Didaktische Implikationen des projektbasierten Lernens beim Einsatz von Social Learning Environments in Hochschulen. Glückstadt: Werner Hülsbusch.
  • Quellmelz, M., & Ruschin, S. (2013). Kompetenzorientiert prüfen mit Lernportfolios. journal hochschuldidaktik, 1-2.

Header image: Generated with Adobe Firefly

  • Michéle Seidel

    Michéle Seidel (M.A.) is a research assistant at the Center for Academic Development at the TH Köln University of Applied Sciences with a focus on hybrid/digital teaching, social online learning environments, science communication and research.

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