The Learner Portfolio

The Learner Portfolio: what, where, when and how? 

As well as being a requirement for the Literature course from 2019, the Learner Portfolio is an opportunity for students to create a ‘space’ where they can analyse, explore, inquire and imagine in a variety of ways when responding to literature.  It is also a place where students can record and chart their learning over the two years of the course.

This page is designed to guide English teachers and departments in making decisions about how they want to use the learner portfolio with their students. For student guidelines go to this page: The Learner Portfolio - a guide for students 

It is important for teachers to introduce the learner portfolio at the very start of the course, explaining its purpose and also making it clear that, while it is not formally assessed by the IB, it is a mandatory and essential component of the Literature course.  As such, some important decisions need to be made by each English department prior to the start of the course in terms of how and where students will create their learner portfolios, as well as how and when they will be used by students and teachers on a day to day basis.

This will depend on your school’s context and the IB guidelines allow for flexibility and choice in terms of how this is done. At Inthinking, we also believe that schools, departments and teachers need to decide what is right for them in their context.  That said, teachers, students and parents all value clarity and consistency when it comes to a fundamental aspect of a course such as this, and so we believe there should be some common expectations and practices within each school.  The guidelines and questions on this page are designed to help teachers and departments frame their discussion and decision-making about the learner portfolio prior to teaching the course.

The Learner Portfolio: questions for departmental discussion and decision-making

What and where?

What format will students use?  Will it be analog, digital or both?


From the Language A teacher support material:  "Teachers requiring electronic learner portfolios should consider privacy and data restrictions in their schools before asking students to post portfolios online."

Will they have complete freedom of choice or do we want to set some common expectations in terms of which medium (or combination of media) students use?   


the IB guide states: "Teachers are free to set and monitor guidelines for the learner portfolio," but also that "students should be allowed to explore different options freely."

What guidelines do we want to give students regarding this? 

If using a physical book, should it be a certain size and type?

If using a digital tool or online platform, should it be the same for all students?  

If a physical book, will students scan and keep a digital record too?


When will we introduce the Learner Portfolio to students? 

How often will students use their learner portfolio?  Every class? Is there a minimum requirement? Once a week? Once a fortnight? Does this differ between Higher Level and Standard Level? 

Will we build in regular time in our unit and lesson planning for students to write in their portfolios?

Will there be certain required tasks for each unit or attached to each assessment component?


From the guide:  “It is expected that the work necessary to meet the requirements in all assessment components will have evolved and been drawn from the contents of the portfolio. To that effect, each student’s portfolio should include at the end the “Works studied form” detailing the works that have been selected as part of the course and how they have been made to interact with the assessment components”

When will teachers look at/collect/check/provide feedback in students' learner portfolios? 

When will we assess work in the learner portfolio?


How will we introduce the Learner Portfolio to students?

How will they use it in class?

How will they use it at home?

Will we give students a guide/list of options/possibilities for using their portfolio? 

How much analytical work and how much creative work will we ask students to do in their portfolio? 

How will we assess the portfolios?

How should students organize their portfolio? By Areas of Exploration? By Texts? By Concepts? By Global Issues? Or do we give them choice in how they do this? 

How many common assessments 

How will we ensure students don’t lose this work?  Will we require them to back it up/scan it at regular intervals? 

How will we respond if a student does lose their portfolio?

Where will we keep/store them?  


Schools need to keep the portfolios for at least 6 months after the exam session. From the guide: “Schools may be required to submit these learner portfolios in cases in which it is necessary to determine the authenticity of student’s work in a component, to certify that the principles of academic honesty have been respected or to evaluate the implementation of the syllabus in a school”

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