From paper to digital portfolios: Evolution of writing portfolio-based research - 1980-2020

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Writing portfolios are usually defined as learners' dossiers to document their efforts, growth, and achievements. They were first adopted as a teaching approach and later used as an approach to evaluating writing. Despite the longevity in language education, there is an obvious lack of comprehensive reviews to take stock of the evolution of portfolio-based scholarship, especially from paper to digital portfolios in classroom and programme settings. This paper fills this void by chronologically and thematically categorising published research based upon (1) portfolio types and purposes, (2) implementation procedures, and (3) pedagogical impact. This literature review study is likely to inform L2 writing teachers and researchers of how the portfolio scholarship has undergone paradigm shifts over time, and how the development of digital portfolios contributes to innovating teaching, learning and assessment of writing. The review shows that the transition from paper to digital portfolios hinges upon availability of infrastructure, teacher willingness, performative cultures, and technological literacy of major stakeholders. It also reveals that digital portfolios take L2 writing assessment to a new level, but its classroom-based and large-scale implementation involves multi-layered issues, such as scoring expertise, computing ethics, privacy, and protection of intellectual rights.


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