Implementing Portfolio Assessment as Classroom Innovation in EFL Writing

Project: Research project

Project Details


The use of portfolios in L1 writing instruction has been popular in the past decades. Its development as a pedagogical approach has been well-documented although its broader application in non-Anglophone settings remains under-represented. In L1 writing research, portfolios are claimed to foster learner independence, encourage multiple drafting, and lead to quality-enhancing text revision. Despite these advantages, there is a lack of research as to how teachers understand, develop and try out portfolio assessment in their work contexts. The main aim of the project is to investigate how, if at all, Hong Kong secondary-level teachers implement classroom-based portfolio assessment, and analyze instructional strategies that they believe facilitate or inhibit the development of a context-specific portfolio model in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, writing instruction is mostly product-based and teacher-oriented. There are initiatives suggesting the use of writing portfolios as one form of classroom-based assessment in English language subject of the New Senior Secondary Curriculum. Despite the promulgation of process approach, portfolio assessment remains somewhat esoteric to writing teachers in Hong Kong. This project, therefore, investigates teacher implementation of portfolio assessment in the local context. It is hypothesized that teachers may create contextually suitable portfolio models for the Hong Kong assessment landscape, and this may be a significant way forward for the development of process-oriented writing assessment.

The research strategy involves a mixed method approach by exploring 240 secondary-level English teachers’ perspectives and experiences of using writing portfolios as an assessment innovation, followed by qualitative case studies of 18 teachers in 10 schools implementing portfolio assessment with students of different academic abilities in their Grade 10 to Grade 11 classrooms. Research methods used for the study include an on-line survey, classroom observations, particularly of how portfolio assessment is operated; interviews with teachers to analyze their understandings of assessment issues; interviews with students as their voice as ‘consumers’ of assessment is essential and under-investigated; analyses of student portfolios including multiple drafts and journal entries; and text analysis of revision changes made in texts. Inductive analysis is used to generate theoretical insights from the data.

The intended outcomes of the project are:
The identification of portfolio assessment models contextually suitable for the Hong Kong setting, by theory-building from the cases,;
The development of productive synergies between assessment of learning and assessment for learning in the EFL portfolio classrooms arising from the analyses of the cases,;
The promotion of a set of instructional strategies, backed by classroom practices, that would guide teachers in setting up their own portfolio programs.
Effective start/end date1/01/1530/06/17

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education


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