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Holistic and Individualistic Evaluations of Digital Visual Art Portfolios: A Mixed Methods Study

William D. Cavill, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The high-stakes nature of portfolio evaluation makes it necessary to perform such assessments in the fairest and most equitable manner possible. Determining whether or not there is a difference between holistically and individualistically derived scores for digital visual art portfolios and how those differences can be explained was the focus of this study. This study’s findings fill a gap in the literature regarding the methodologies used to conduct portfolio evaluations. This two-phase explanatory sequential design has produced useful and impactful conclusions to the topic. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected separately and then recorded in unison to provide the richest body of information regarding this topic possible. The participating evaluators had strong beliefs about the digitization of portfolios, the importance of expertise, and the differences between holistic and individualistic processes and results. Additionally, it was found that the participants generally preferred the holistic method over the individualistic one because they were able to get a better sense of the artist, could conduct the evaluations much faster, and experienced less stress while performing the evaluations. These qualitative findings helped shed light on the quantitative findings including ANOVAs which revealed that there was not a statistically significant amount of difference between the mean scores for holistic and individualistic methods, the distributions presented only slightly higher mean scores holistically, and only slightly more normalized mean scores individualistically. For instance, the distribution of the participants’ mean scores revealed differing tendencies between the two methods, with holistic mean scores skewed higher than their individualistic counterparts. The findings of this research may have a significant impact on universities that employ one method or the other. The research clearly indicates that since there is not a statistically significant difference between the mean scores derived through either method, that consideration should be given to the amount of time and stress that one method has over the other. A hybridized format was also recommended in which the preferred amount of feedback from the individualistic method could be included in a holistic setting. Implications on arts assessment, university faculty, administration, and public schools were also discussed.

Subject Area

Art education|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Cavill, William D., "Holistic and Individualistic Evaluations of Digital Visual Art Portfolios: A Mixed Methods Study" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10616636.