I chose to discuss the topic of portfolios in elementary schools because I have only heard positive comments on implementing portfolios into classrooms. I, myself, cannot think of any reasons why a portfolio might hurt a student or teacher but I would like to see if there are any studies that have been done that could disprove my thoughts. I have done research to see how other people view the value of portfolios in the classroom. The pieces that I have found include Using Portfolio to Assess Rural Young Learners’ Writing Skills in English Language Classroom, State, Problems and Guidelines for Solving Problems in Implementing Student Portfolio Assessment in Elementary Schools in Thailand, and Using Electronic Portfolios to Foster Literacy and Self-Regulated Learning Skills in Elementary Students. These are all scholarly journal articles that use educational references so I can be sure that the information I am receiving is real and accurate.
Journal Article 1
The first article that I came upon when researching portfolios in elementary classrooms was Using Portfolio to Assess Rural Young Learners’ Writing Skills in English Language Classroom by Aziz and Yusoff. This article was published through the Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Sciences. I accessed it through SUNY Cortland’s Library Search. The main purpose of the study discussed in this paper was to view the effects on literacy skills that using portfolios in elementary classrooms would have. There were 11 fourth grade students who were part of the study. Their portfolios were composed of answers they gave in a set of interviews after several literacy lessons based on their knowledge. At the end of the study, the researchers were able to conclude that “using portfolio to assess young learners’ writing skills is beneficial and effective in helping them to write in the English language classroom.”
Journal Article 2
Another article that I found discussing this topic was State, Problems and Guidelines for Solving Problems in Implementing Student Portfolio Assessment in Elementary Schools in Thailand by Tangdhanakanond and Wongwanich. This article was published through Elsevier Ltd. and was also accessed through SUNY Cortland’s Library Search. This article had a less optimistic view about the implementation of portfolios in elementary schools. Their study included many more students than Journal Article 1, using 242 students. After their study, the researchers found three main problems with using portfolios at the elementary school level. These problems included “(a) a lack of knowledge and deep understanding of teachers in implementing student portfolio assessment, (b) a poor attention and cooperation of students in creating the portfolios, and (c) a lack of materials and budgets to support teachers in implementing student portfolio assessment.” These researchers feel that teachers themselves are not fully aware of how they should be using the portfolios nor do they have the funds to be doing so and the students are not necessarily interested in participating in the creation of them.
Journal Article 3
Finally, the third journal article that I found while doing research on portfolios was Using Electronic Portfolios to Foster Literacy and Self-Regulated Learning Skills in Elementary Students by Abrami, Venkatesh, Meyer, and Wade. This article was published through the Journal of Educational Psychology and was also accessed through SUNY Cortland’s Library Search. This article’s study seemed somewhat biased because they immediately excluded students from the main study who stated that they were not interested in creating portfolios (which was one of the main reasons the researchers in Journal Article 2 concluded that portfolios were not helpful). This study used 319 students between grades four and six over an entire school year. They participated in tests that were recorded in online portfolios. The study showed that “students motivated to use the software made significantly greater gains compared with controls [the students who were not interested in the portfolios] in 3 of 4 writing and reading skills.” The study also concluded that “students who used the software reported higher levels of SRL [self-regulated learning] processes than those in the control group.”
Critique and Comparison
One comparison that I can make using class content from LIT 371 taught by Professor Richards as well as the first article is that saving a child’s work in some form of a portfolio is a good way to view a child’s progress from the beginning of the school year to the end. I immediately think about the books that Professor Richards showed us in class that students wrote/drew in very often throughout the year. It is clear that as time went on, the students who created the books gained literacy skills because of how they writing improves as time goes on. If portfolios had not been kept, this progress may have been harder to see of may have gone unnoticed. A comparison that I can make using class content from HLH 265 taught by Professor Greeley as well as the second article is that when school faculty lack knowledge in a certain area, it is harder for them to correctly implement things into their classroom. In this health class we discussed how there are certain policies about health that have been implemented into schools, however, because many faculty members are unaware of these policies, it is hard and sometimes impossible for them to be implemented. Since the teachers discussed in the second article were not all aware of how to properly use portfolios, the results were probably less successful than they could have been. Finally, a comparison that I can make using personal experience as well as the third article is that when I am in a class that does not particularly interest me, I am less likely to get as good a grade in that class than I am in a class that I enjoy. This is similar to how the students who were not interested in creating portfolios did not show as much improvement after using them.
To reflect on what I have learned from conducting this research, I now realize that the topic of portfolios is not just being discussed in the United States, this is a global awareness. My articles come from researched in places like Malaysia and Thailand, places that I never thought would be doing the same kind of research that a person in the U.S. would be doing. It is interesting to see that education is just as important to educators across the globe as it is to the people in my own state and country. I have also learned that there can be problems with creating portfolios. I never thought that there could be anything negative to say about them but after conducting this research and looking into journal articles with different studies I have learned that sometimes portfolios can be more hurtful than helpful to the people involved.
- Aziz, M & Y, N. (2015). Using Portfolio to Assess Rural Young Learners’ Writing Skills in English Language Classroom.
- Sabah, Malaysia: Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Sciences.
- Tangdhanakanond, K & W, S. (2015). State, Problems and Guidelines for Solving Problems in Implementing Student Portfolio Assessment in Elementary Schools in Thailand. Bangkok, Thailand: Elsevier Ltd..
- Abrami, P., V.V., M.E., & W.A. (2013). Using Electronic Portfolios to Foster Literacy and Self-Regulated Learning Skills in Elementary Students. Alberta, Quebec: Journal of Educational Psychology.