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Connected portfolios: open assessment practices for maker communities

Anna Keune (Department of Educational Sciences, School of Social Sciences and Technology, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany)
Kylie Peppler (Department of Informatics and Education, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, USA)
Maggie Dahn (Department of Informatics, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, USA)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 30 June 2022

Issue publication date: 15 August 2022




In contrast to traditional portfolio practices that focus on the individual, this paper aims to reenvision portfolio practices to encompass sociocultural aspects of learning by considering how young makers, both in- and out-of-school, imbue digital cultural practices into the documenting and showcasing of their work, as well as observe the extent to which their portfolios are used to build community inside and outside their local settings.


Drawing from a connected learning approach, the authors engaged in qualitative and ethnographic study of youth’s digital maker portfolios in an out-of-school and a school-based makerspace. Through qualitative and thematic coding of portfolio walkthroughs, the authors identified four underlying characteristics within portfolio artifacts (i.e. personal and shared projects) and capturing practices (i.e. personal and shared capturing practices) that differently presented projects.


The analysis showed that portfolios that included shared productions and shared portfolios (i.e. projects and portfolios contributed to by more than one youth) and that were shared in open-ended ways across communities valued connected learning principles. These connected portfolios made community building within and beyond maker-educational communities of the young makers possible. In particular, openly shared and collaboratively captured work showed individual achievements (e.g. projects and techniques) and made visible connective and social engagement (e.g. opportunities for feedback and refinement, possibilities to narrate work to multiple audiences).


This paper has implications for the design of portfolio assessment in makerspaces and expands the role of portfolios as a way to capture individual and cognitive achievements alone toward connected community-building opportunities for youth as well as maker-centered settings within and beyond the youth’s local maker-centered settings.



The work of the project was made possible by generous support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The continuous conversations with and insightful feedback by our actively involved advisory board members generated a momentum that propelled our arguments forward in ways that would not have been possible without their critical commentary. In alphabetical order the authors thank Leigh Abts, Jon-Paul Ales-Barnicoat, Daragh Byrne, Christina Cantrill, Barry Fishman, Larry Gallagher, Shelley Goldman, Jay Melican, Vera Michalchik, Chris Peterson and Jessica Ross. Preliminary analyses of the studies in this paper were presented at CSCL 2017.


Keune, A., Peppler, K. and Dahn, M. (2022), "Connected portfolios: open assessment practices for maker communities", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 123 No. 7/8, pp. 462-481.



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