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Portfolio assessment in ESL academic writing: Examining the effects of reflection in the writing process

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Title: Portfolio assessment in ESL academic writing: Examining the effects of reflection in the writing process
Author(s): Chung, Sun Joo
Advisor(s): Davidson, Frederick
Department / Program: Linguistics
Discipline: Teaching of English Sec Lang
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.A.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): Portfolio Assessment English as a Second Language (ESL) Writing Assessment
Abstract: Writing is done through a process of drafting and editing. Traditional writing assessment techniques, such as large-scale standardized tests and multiple-choice tests, are not compatible with the process-oriented curricula. Researchers and educators have started to explore other types of student assessment. Portfolio assessment has been suggested as an alternative to traditional writing assessment because it can integrate instruction and evaluation, which can be a way of providing for validity. In this study, I examined students’ perceptions of the portfolio assessment in an advanced academic writing course for ESL graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students in the course wrote four major assignments, each in a different genre, and they were required to provide drafts of the assignments. Students were also asked to write reflective journals where they kept records of their writing and revision processes and could set goals for future development. Students’ reflective journals were analyzed to understand students’ revision processes. Students were also asked to complete a questionnaire that investigated their past experiences with portfolios and their impressions of the portfolio they were required to compile for the course. I, then, analyzed students’ drafts in terms of fluency, accuracy, and grammatical complexity to find further evidence to support the use of portfolio assessment in an ESL classroom. The results of the reflective journals show that students were able to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement in the journals. However, the analysis also revealed an overreliance on peer reviews and writing conferences to write their journals. The results of the questionnaire show that students’ perceptions about portfolio assessment were generally positive with some recommendations about better guidance and instruction. Students also expressed the intent to use portfolios for other projects as a part of their professional development. The fluency, accuracy, and grammatical complexity were analyzed using one-way ANOVA. The one-way ANOVA did not yield statistically significant results but did provide some evidence for improvement in the ESL academic writing courses. It seems that genre and topic familiarity could have influenced students’ writing abilities because many international graduate students are accustomed to writing to specific audiences in their fields. General topics and genres could be more difficult to write for these students who may not be familiar to them. Limitations and suggestions for future study show a need for more research in areas of electronic portfolio software and their effects on the reflection process. In addition, dynamic assessment could play a role in improving portfolio assessment and future study could provide models for their use in second language classrooms.
Issue Date: 2012-06-27
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/32005
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Sun Joo Chung
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-06-27
Date Deposited: 2012-05
 

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