Learning portfolios – zines

Learning portfolio - Zines

SySTEM 2020 Conceptual Framework on informal/non-formal learning describes learning outside of the classroom as a broad spectrum of activities in which learners can experience a huge diversity of contexts, with differing intentions and outcomes. This broad spectrum of experience makes up a learning ecology, in which knowledge is constructed by learners with influence from their physical, social and cultural contexts. These contexts include formal learning experiences (e.g. school classrooms), non-formal learning experiences (e.g. museums, makerspaces, etc) and informal learning experiences (e.g. media consumption), all contributing to the construct of diverse and varied learning ecologies where learners interact with and reinforce one another.

Part of SySTEM 2020 is to examine science learning at the individual level and to do that the project has utilised zines as a learning portfolio method to reflect on STEAM learning during science, art and maker workshops. Here you will find the full report on using this tool within the SySTEM 2020 project, the rationale for the development of the learning portfolio tool, the process of development and implementation of it, and our reflections on recommendations for its future use. You will also find a SySTEM 2020 how to guide to get you started with zines as quickly as possible.

We found that using zines was a great way to tell stories about learning in science and the arts. Enabling this now, while lots of learners are at home, is more important than ever!

Who is it for

This report and how to guide acts as an introduction to the use of the SySTEM 2020 learning portfolio methodology in non-formal learning settings and will be useful for educators/practitioners aiming to use learning portfolios within their own non-formal and informal learning institutions and/or readers with research interests in learning portfolios (particularly in non-formal settings).

Suggested scenario

Zines are easy to make from home, or as part of a workshop or activity. Right now, while lots of us are at home, try making a zine from the things you already have lying around the house. 

Facilitator tips

Zines are really easy to make, all you need is: 

– some scrap materials 

– paper and pencil/pens

– scissors and (optionally) glue 

A closer look

SySTEM 2020 partners practised using zines in 2020 to act as a means to construct learning portfolios. Catch a glimpse of some of the zines made by our partners and download our zine-making kit below.

Report on learning portfolios & Zine quick how-to guide


Sophie Perry and Andrew Whittington-Davis


Science Gallery Dublin and Ecsite


SySTEM 2020





Explore SySTEM 2020’s latest tools and findings to help support and cultivate pathways to welcome learners from all backgrounds into science learning.