Portfolio Assessment in Writing Courses: attitudes of students from the Department of English, University of Dhaka
Portfolio assessment has become a significant addition to evaluating writing skills as an alternative of traditional paper-pencil test. Department of English, University of Dhaka has implemented portfolio assessment in writing courses in 2015. Four groups of students have been assessed through portfolios so far. The experience of these students can facilitate the future improvement of this newly applied assessment procedure. This study aimed to examine the attitude of Dhaka University, undergraduate students towards portfolio assessment. In this study, data were collected from 30 undergraduate students, using a questionnaire consisting of 5-point Likert-type questions and open-ended questions. The findings of the study show that students think portfolio assessment is beneficial for them but proper introduction, instructions and feedback are needed. The findings also suggest that portfolio assessment should not consume the study time of the students and should test writing only rather than their knowledge on different topics.
Keywords: Portfolio Assessment, learner attitudes, writing, feedback
Writing skill is considered as a major component of language learning and teaching. As a complex phenomenon, many theories have been applied in teaching and evaluating writing. Different sets of skills are involved in writing: macro skills (planning, organisation etc.) and micro skills (spelling, punctuation, word choice and so on). Moreover, writing involves processes like generating ideas, drafting, redrafting and editing and “these important dimensions are not sufficiently assessed in a one-shot attempt of traditional testing” (Nezakatgoo, 2011, p. 231). Consequently, theorists and practitioners of ELT have been looking for an alternative approach to assess writing. Since 1990s, portfolios came into light as a useful assessment tool that provides an alternative and authentic means of assessment (Nezakatgoo, 2011). Portfolio assessment has become popular day by day because it is an ongoing process which evaluates the progress of the students continuously and assists them to become more self-directed to their learning and evaluation (Crosby, 1997; Yang, 2003).
A portfolio is “a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress and achievements in one or more areas” (Paulson et al.,1991, p. 60). Unlike traditional paper-pencil tests, portfolio assessment is an ongoing procedure, which demonstrates the learners’ progress within a certain period. According to Harmer (2007), assessing different pieces of student works written over a period of time is fairer than “sudden death” final test. Continue reading