Prof. Dr. Holger Kersten
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik



The idea behind a portfolio

A portfolio (a collection of a student's work during one semester) shows the history of a student’s process of learning, change, and growth. It is supposed to reflect a student's reading record. In addition to the relevant facts taken from reading assignments it reveals how the material has been intellectually digested. Generally speaking, it is a purposeful collection of a student’s work to illustrate efforts, progress, and achievements.

The purpose of a portfolio is to secure the knowledge gained in working on the readings assignments and to practice critical thinking strategies in response to the reading material. It will help students to develop a better sense of their learning goals and the progress they make. If done properly, a portfolio is a way to show progress with regard to factual knowledge and critical thinking. It allows students to see their accomplishments and provides a measurement of their academic and intellectual growth.

The following categories are suggestions about how a record for a reading assignment might be organized. Please note that this is a general model and does not apply to every reading assignment you receive. Feel free to adapt the model to your preferences. Ultimately, you should develop the portfolio pages to suit your own style of study. Keep in mind, however, that the portfolio is meant to give a reviewer (e.g. your professor) an insight into the work you did in the course of a semester.

1) Important Key Words (never more than 10)
These words have a special importance for the article (e.g. important names and concepts)

2) Summary (no more than three sentences)
This section expresses the main purpose of the article. It names the article's main thesis.

3) Important Facts / Central Ideas
Here you list the central facts or ideas set forth in the article. In contrast to sections 1 and 2, you are supposed to provide more detailed information here. Use this to note how a writer builds his or her argument. It should mention important names and the ideas, concepts, or theories for which they stand. It may also be useful to record important quotations from the text.

4) Questions / Comments (Critical Thinking section)
This is the place for you to record comments and questions that come up during your reading of the article. May include notes about contexts, similarities to other texts you know, comments about how you evaluate the text, and similar issues. Do not ask questions about people or words that you don't know – you are supposed to look up that sort of information in your preparation.

  Version vom 30.08.2018