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The two major categories of portfolios are: working portfolios and display portfolios.

A working portfolio is like an archive. It is a collection of work guided by learning objectives. A working portfolio can be a box or a folder into which all the material is collected. The material can be composed of diaries, drawings, plans, essays, summaries, reports, exercises, feedback, memories, certificates, emails, videos, awards, photos, etc. Keeping a working portfolio is, in practice, a matter of recording as widely and systematically as possible all the essential work, learning and development. It includes the work in progress as well as finished works.

A display portfolio is a collection of the works selected by a student demonstrating his/her knowledge, know-how, development during a course, module or even over the entire period of study. Constructing a display portfolio is a matter of the student selecting his/her best work from the working portfolio and organizing the material into a presentable form. The form and content depend on the purpose of the portfolio.

Examples of display portfolios:

  • Display portfolio of a course: The student selects all the material related to the topic and learning objectives from his/her working portfolio. Sufficient work must be collected to provide evidence of the student’s achievements and development. Teacher may have specific instructions about content. A display portfolio may include, for example, a learning diary, exercises and a self-assessment.
  • Display portfolio of professional development: The student collects material documenting and reflecting his/her professional growth and development from the working portfolio.
  • Display portfolio of employment: Some employers request a portfolio from job applicants. The form and scope of the portfolio depends on the job and possible instructions given regarding it. Employment portfolios serve in convincing the prospective employer of the applicant’s expertise.