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Designing Online Information Systems for Portfolio-Based Assessment: Design Criteria and Heuristics

, Curtin University, Australia ; , Edith Cowan University, Australia

JITE-Research Volume 3, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute


This paper outlines the main findings of research about online portfolio information systems. This research focused on the educational integrity of these educational systems and the maximisation of value across all stakeholders, in particular the value gained from the automation and interaction potential of the online environment. The findings and analyses were based on a review of current practices in online portfolios along with secondary analysis of the existing literature on portfolios and online portfolios. The research focused on the ways stakeholder value is created through different approaches to design composition. From this perspective, the paper explores issues relating to: the automation of administrative functions; matching context, discipline and technology; information storage; interface issues; quality assurance; equity issues; security, fraud and plagiarism detection; and the ability to realise curriculum innovations, such as providing and assessing evidence of professional skills and graduate attributes. The authors propose these are the central functional issues in designing of online portfolio assessment system and as such takes precedence over decision making about the technical means by which online portfolio systems are instantiated and implemented. The findings of this critical review of contemporary practice in designing online portfolio systems indicated a widespread neglect of those factors necessary to achieving educational integrity and maximising value across all stakeholders. Typically, design processes were marked by an overemphasis on technical issues about facilitating implementation rather than addressing the primary educational goals. In conclusion, the research suggests that most online portfolio systems fall significantly short of their potential, and, in many cases, are inferior to conventional portfolio assessment and traditional assessment approaches. The analyses suggest the design of online portfolio assessment systems should, like any other educational process, be grounded in achieving educational integrity, and, to gain the benefits of the online environment, focus on those factors that maximise value across all stakeholders. In particular, the research draws attention to the most significant, and most commonly underrealised, benefit offered by online environments: the ability to efficiently automate many of the time consuming routine administrative tasks associated with education and assessment without loss of teaching and learning benefits.


Love, T. & Cooper, T. (2004). Designing Online Information Systems for Portfolio-Based Assessment: Design Criteria and Heuristics. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 3(1), 65-81. Informing Science Institute. Retrieved December 7, 2019 from .



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