Using Writing Portfolios to Assess Course Learning Outcomes in a Jordanian University

Celine Kamhieh


Portfolios were used to assess cognitive and affective course learning outcomes in an undergraduate writing program at a private university in Jordan. A convenience sample of twenty-one male and female Arab EFL/ESL freshmen, wrote short weekly assignments over a fifteen-week semester, made regular diary entries about their writing and leisure reading, and wrote a short children's story. These were not graded but students received prompt feedback. At semester’s end, they collected their work in a portfolio and wrote a final evidence-based reflection, in which they analysed their strengths and weaknesses in writing. These portfolios were graded based on their inclusion of regularly submitted written work, evidence of their response to given feedback and their analysis of their progress in writing. Using qualitative data analysis based on the grounded theory method, students’ reflections were mined for rich data, concepts were labelled and emerging categories were identified. These codes were further analysed in more depth, using cognitive and affective taxonomies, which showed that the course outcomes had been met. Recommendations are made for greater use of portfolio assessment at tertiary level in Jordan.

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