Exploring Portfolios in the Elementary Classroom with Students with Disabilities/Exceptionalities: Timely or Time-consuming?

S. Anthony Thompson, Lynsey Baumgartner


In the inclusive/special education literature, practitioners often claim that using portfolios is excessively time-intensive, while other researchers lay claim to positive possibilities for students with disabilities/exceptionalities, such as increased self-esteem, internal locus of control, choice-making, and active participation in learning. To explore both the time-consuming charge and the positive possibilities associated with portfolio use, we conducted a case study with students with dis-abilities/exceptionalities and some labelled at-risk in the second author’s elementary classroom. Data sources included a research journal, general class-room observations, and structured student interviews. We found that the teacher identified more examples of positive outcomes than did her students and that implementing portfolios can indeed be a protracted process. We theorize about these findings and offer some concluding suggestions to mitigate labour intensity to better support students with disabilities/exceptionalities.

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