Although this article is older, I found it worth the read since I want to use portfolios to assess and evaluate my students in the future. However, the word assessment is often used to mean evaluation. In the article Bernhardt (1992) states “that it is unreliable to base [evaluation] on a single sample of student writing” (p. 333). Thus, it is also unfair to evaluate students on “a single sit-down test” (Bernhardt, 1992, p. 333). This is especially true in English classes, where the very nature of the discipline is reliant on the writing process and conferencing. Bernhardt suggests that utilizing portfolio assessment allows students to reflect what they can do for a variety of texts, audiences and purposes (1992, p. 334). Students can show their writing process and get the choice/freedom to control what goes into their portfolio. They also get to spend the needed time on each piece of work and portfolios will mean more to parents than a single exam (Bernhardt, 1992, p. 334).
In my own classroom, I hope to get students to blog their work under each outcome (in student/parent friendly ‘I Can Statements’). Students would then write a letter to their teacher at the end of the year that outlines one piece of work from each outcome to be evaluated, but all of their work would be included. They would receive feedback on all work and teachers, students and parents could all have a say about what work should be evaluated. Students could monitor their growth between school years and have the chance to revisit their work. I would also have “author’s chair” be a weekly routine in my class, where students can help each other, conference their work and showcase their talents. The one downside I see would be making a rubric for each of the outcomes, especially when students may use various indicators for each outcome. Therefore, making the rubrics with the students for each outcome at the start of the year would be important so that students could guide their work from there.
I think portfolios in English are practical and if they foster technology, they better prepare students for the future.
For more information: Bernhardt, S. A. (1992). Teaching English: Portfolio evaluation. The Clearing House, 65(6), 333-334.
Triangulation: evidence collected from three different sources over time, trends and patterns become apparent.
Need all three types to have reliable/valid evaluation.
Observations need to be focused/specific (just like goals).
Consider how you will record observations and relate the observation to the purpose of the learning activity.
Products/student creations should allow for choice.
Conversations/conferencing allows students to self-assess and take ownership of their learning.
I think that conversations allow teachers to learn not only about what their students have learned, but also about who their students are as people/learners.
Evidence should be ongoing.
“Consider assessing more and evaluating less” (Davies, 2011, p. 52).
All assessment should relate to curriculum outcomes/indicators/learning purpose.
Chapter 6: Involving Students in Classroom Assessment
students to set and use criteria: this gives them control of their learning and a better understanding. Example: classroom rules
self-assessment: provides time to learn and process, give feedback to themselves and transition from one activity/class to next; this promotes independence and self-monitoring. Tip: include clear criteria, samples and models.
descriptive feedback sources: “The more specific, descriptive feedback students receive while they are learning, the more learning is possible” (Davies, 2011, p. 58).
goal setting: increases motivation and sets a learning purpose/focus.
students to collect evidence of learning: to increase accountability and ownership. Example: portfolio.
students to present evidence of learning: to get students to see themselves as learners and take more accountability of their work. Tip: present to many different audiences.
Davies points out that “the ideas themselves are simple, but the implementing of them in today’s busy classrooms will take some time” (2011, p. 61). This statement speaks to me.
Before reading this text and attending this class (ECS 410) I never considered letting students be part of the criteria-building process. I am still curious as to how this would work. Also, I wonder what self-assessment would look like. Other than the odd self-assessment assignment, I have never seen this in action. Davies suggests getting students to assess each other. I have had other professors tell me not to do this because sometimes students give each other wrong advice. How do you teach kids to self-assess appropriately? How much time would this entire process take? Is it more or less work for the teacher? I know that conferencing would take a lot of time so how do you fit that in as a classroom teacher? Do you request students to come outside of classroom time?
Triangulation was also a new topic for me. I think one way I can make sure I am using all sources to evaluate is by simply rotating them. I could have a chart with each source and make a tally every time it is used, in hopes for a balance.
I thoroughly believe in student choice. One quote that my mother, who is also an educator, passed on to me is: “Many teachers teach every child the same material in the same way, and measure each child’s performance by the same standards… Thus, teachers embrace the value of treating each child as a unique individual while instructing children as if they were virtually identical” (Mehlinger, 1995). I think this chapter gives many suggestions to avoid assessing students the same way. Choice is only fair and using triangulation broadens the choices and fairness even more! I also like the idea of creating a portfolio of work and getting students to present this work so that they are accountable.
Three common trends in the text are student-lead learning, more time and more feedback. These are all things I am starting to understand and think I can do!