What is an Educational Portfolio?

An educational portfolio is a compilation of your academic work, often focused on your overall concentration of study. A portfolio is a great way to highlight your studies and the events or activities that you are most proud of. The contents of the portfolio can give potential employers insight into your academic experience and skills. However, getting someone to actually read it is important. What good is a well written portfolio if no one reads it? Introductions are important.

INTRODUCTIONS GRAB YOUR ATTENTION! No matter how good the content of your educational portfolio might be, if you fail to get the attention of the reader, yours may be tossed aside. Writing a good introduction is analogous to the phrase "hook, line, and sinker." You set the "hook" by having a strong opening statement. You draw the reader in on your "line" by setting the context for your educational portfolio or what it is going to be about. Finally, the "sinker" tells the reader exactly why to read your educational portfolio.

Determine Theme

Decide upon the overall theme of your portfolio. Think of one sentence that best describes this theme and use it as your opening statement. Educational portfolios are a collection of evidence demonstrating how you have achieved learning outcomes over time. Your theme then is a general statement about what you have learned.

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Describe Contents

Describe, in general terms, the content of your portfolio and how the content demonstrates your theme. For example, you might say "the writing samples and evaluations contained in this portfolio show how my critical thinking skills have evolved over the course of the program." Avoid listing all of the contents in your portfolio in the introduction. Put the list in a table of contents instead.

Determine Individuality

Explain why the reader should want to review your educational portfolio. Think about what sets your educational portfolio apart from others and how it describes you as an individual. You may wish to use a philosophical analogy. For example, Bruce Lee, a practitioner of martial arts, advocated being "like water." Talk about how you have been like water, going with the flow and adapting to obstructions, all with a strong undercurrent of power.

Tip

As a general guideline, your introduction should not be more than one page in length. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. An in-depth or lengthy course of study may require a longer one.

Follow the guidelines listed above to write an effective portfolio introduction.

About the Author

Carol Strider is a writer and a post-secondary educator in law and criminal justice, teaching in person and online since 2002. Prior to teaching, Strider was a lawyer at a community law office. Strider holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Arts, a diploma in adult education and a diploma in animal sciences.