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Artículo 04

Volumen 16


E-PORTFOLIO: EFFECTIVE ASSESSMENT SPEAKING TOOL

Dr. Josué Cinto Morales

Facultad de Lenguas

Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

 

Abstract

 

Within the framework of curriculum implementation, assessment is a process oriented by quality criteria where both learners and teachers must share responsibility. This research has the essential purpose of describing the contribution of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), by means of e-portfolios, to the development of metacognitive strategies as well as consciousness-raising activities fostered by self-assessment and peer assessment.

 

The study is based on a qualitative approach, by means of interviews, to determine the perceptions of students of the workshop of oral expression and listening comprehension in relation to the use of the electronic portfolio and its components for the improvement of skills and the development of strategies.

 

Keywords: curriculum, assessment, strategies, metacognition and ICT

 

 

Introduction (curriculum, competences, assessment, learning)

The Mexican educational system has been highly questioned in terms of its effectiveness. English curricula often lack effectiveness because of the poor connections between the delivery systems adopted and the assessment procedures used. Indeed, in many cases, they do not foster the development of communicative competence and learning strategies.

Assessment is seldom implemented as a continuous process which provides feedback, leads to the development of learning strategies and enhances the development of competences. Learners’ participation in the assessment process is excluded so the commitment in their own learning process is usually low. They go completely unaware of the outcomes they must attain and the effort they are supposed to make, collaborating with the teacher and classmates. Thus, some practical curriculum modifications must be made if outcomes are expected to change; more collaborative work and participative assessment from learners must be enhanced on the basis of awareness and intentional pursuit of effective and meaningful learning.

Curriculum

Curriculum is seen beyond the traditional vision of a printed document that analytically  specifies goals, objectives, content, learning activities, delivery processes, and evaluation procedures (Pratt, 1980), adopting   the notion of an existing contract (Braslavsky, 1999) between society, the State and educational professionals with regard to the educational experiences that learners should undergo. This contract, then, must specify the conditions, resources, time, obligations, rights and responsibilities of the participants in the achievement of broad goals and related specific objectives, planned in terms of a theoretical framework, systematic research as well as past and present professional practice (Hass, 1987).

Thus, the curriculum is a device of dialogue, reflection, research, theorizing and improvement, in constant construction and reconstruction process that involves both the design and development (Gimeno Sacristán, 1988), it is essential to understand it as an action plan, working hypotheses and a cultural, social, political and educational project. The learners must participate in both the learning process and the assessment procedures so that they may realize their strengths, shortcomings, and areas of possible development, which, in turn, should adjust attitudes as well as the quality of intellectual and procedural knowledge integrated into kills, that is, competences.

 

 

Competences

Despite all the statements the contract may contain, what really matters and becomes transcendental is the set of effective processes, actions and strategies undertaken as well as efforts invested on the intentional attempt to transform all plans into observable outcomes which can undoubtedly be accepted as useful, relevantly social and highly educational, that is, structures which make individuals competent within social practice.

A curriculum currently involves a promise of specific outcomes packed and structured as a construct called competence. In the words of Perrenoud (2011) a competence is a complex paradigm which involves the application of knowledge for the solution of specific problems. For Comellas et al. (2002) it is a process of decision-making by means of a methodic analysis of the context and conditions which orientate the participant to determine what knowledge results relevant for the solution of the problem, how it must be applied and the amount of effort it requires. This, way, a competence becomes one of the principles to take into account in curriculum design (Braslavsky, 1999; Jonnaert et al., 2006) and evaluation, but it must also be seen as one of the traits of the professional profile within a framework of continuous learning and curriculum structure and rationale. In sum, competences are “complex integrated capacities, in different degrees, in which education must train individuals so that they can operate as responsible subjects in different situations and contexts of their social and personal life, knowing how to see, do, act and enjoy properly, assessing alternatives, choosing appropriate strategies and taking responsibility for the decisions taken” (Tunning, pp.31:14).

Learning and assessment

Learning is a complex process which requires a high level of awareness, willingness and intentional actions oriented to solving problems. However, all the participants involved in the process must be aware that learning and assessment are two components of a tandem which are inherently related and must by no reason be separated. Learning implies some kind of voluntary participation in a setting, activities and interaction and use of specific codes and norms which continuously generates data and, then allows a systematic process of collecting data which facilitates decision-making and is oriented to quality improvement, that is, evaluation in the modality of assessment.

Assessment is a process oriented by quality criteria where both learners and teachers must share responsibility. Therefore, metacognitive strategies and self-evaluation opportunities appear as essential components in the development of learning autonomy and communicative competence. Additionally, assessment is a collaborative process when the conditions are created to make outcomes and learning products observable, accessible and permanent for careful reflection and the provision of more valuable feedback. In this process, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are tools that people use to share, distribute and collect information, and to communicate with other people, allowing asynchronous interaction.

E-portfolio

The use of a portfolio as a tool for assessment implies a holistic learner-centered approach to both learning and education. Assessment by means of portfolios entails a constructivist model of learning and that all students are likely to learn as well as their right for high-quality education (Bryant and Timms, 2002).

A portfolio is a systematically-organized collection of the work of a student or students, which shows their effort, understanding and growth over time, that is, accomplishments in language development. However, a portfolio is not static as it can be used as a dynamic method of assessment which allows the students to tell, see and share their learning story as well as collaborative and cooperative learning when it is intentionally used to communicate with other members of the community. It is intended to promote critical thinking by means of frequent processes of reflection based on the responsibility of the learners’ own learning process and organization of their knowledge.

In sum, a critical component of a portfolio is the combination of a learner's reflection on the individual pieces of work (often called artifacts), as well as an overall reflection on the story that the portfolio tells. When used in schools, portfolios have the potential to support a deeper level of engagement and self-awareness (Barret, 2006). In terms of task-based instruction, a portfolio meets the three essential conditions suggested by Willis (1996) exposure to the language, opportunities to use it, and motivation in observing concrete results within the basis of ICT.

Purpose of the study

This research has the essential purpose of describing the contribution of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to the development of metacognitive strategies as well as consciousness-raising activities fostered by self-assessment.

Method

The study is based on a qualitative approach, by means of interviews, to determine the perceptions of students of the workshop of oral expression and listening comprehension in relation to the use of the electronic portfolio and its components for the improvement of skills and the development of strategies.

The portfolio included introductions about themselves (video), presentations about their families (powerpoint), diaries (MP3), CD with 10 songs (MP3), a tale (MP3), an interview with a foreign tourist or visitor (video), making plans (MP3), and a reflection about the course.

Results

The results show that students value the opportunity to listen to themselves as they have the possibility to detect problems and determine learning objectives. When learners were interviewed they stated that, at the beginning of the course, they were not aware of all the mistakes they could make until they received feedback from other learners and, later, from the teacher.

Firstly, they stated that higher awareness led them to pay more attention to syntax, vocabulary and pronunciation. They created scripts or mind maps in order to better organize information, and they rehearsed what they would say several times before recording it. They pointed out that, in previous courses, although they had been explained grammatical structures, they had been unable to use them. The development of projects and tasks for e-portfolio, however, had provided them the opportunity to understand the use of structures. Regarding vocabulary, they recognized that at the beginning they had to analyze, observe and research the accurate use of words and eventually they had been able to use them in a more natural way.

                  

Moreover, they highlighted that planning was seen as a very important stage in the learning process and the development of skills. They claim to have been able to better use knowledge for the achievement of learning objectives. Besides, they state they had the opportunity to learn how to record videos in programs such as movie maker, turn powerpoint presentations into videos, use online dictionaries and give their mobile a language learning and practice application.

Secondly, when they referred to assessing classmates’ work, they claim it was possible to carefully listen and they had the opportunity to even do it several times, consulting dictionaries or asking other people for help. They said that it was not until the teacher first revised a sample video that they noticed what and how they had to produce feedback for their classmates. They stated that they had never had such experience before and they thought it was exclusively the teacher’s responsibility to check the assignments and give them a grade. They learned to listen and provide critical feedback to their classmates.

Thirdly, working in teams was difficult because it required genuine collaboration to complete the tasks. They stated that although, at the beginning, it had been difficult to reach agreements, eventually, they had developed tolerance, respect and responsibility for the completion of the tasks. They had even collaborated voluntarily in tasks which had not been set up as teamwork.

Finally, they claimed that ICT make it possible for them to review their tasks and decide if they must redo them or if they are good enough to be seen or listened by someone else, teachers or classmates. Since recordings and videos are permanent, they can listen or watch them several times in order to check vocabulary or grammar, and the attention they pay helps their listening become more acute. 

Conclusions

Learners became aware of the complexity of their learning process and the responsible application of knowledge required, if they want to increase not just the presentation of their learning products, but the quality of their written and oral communication competences. In short, the inclusion of e-portfolios does help accomplish the competences established in the curriculum of the BA in ELT of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla which include the capacity for oral and written communication, ability to communicate in a second language, ability to use information and communication technology, capacity for investigation, ability to search for, process, and analyze information from a variety of sources, ability to make decisions and ability to work as part of a team.

 

 

 

References

Barrett, H. (2006). Using Electronic Portfolios for Classroom Assessment. Connected Newsletter, October 2006 Volume 13, No. 2, pp. 4-6. Retrieved from: http://electronicportfolios.org/portfolios/ConnectedNewsletter-final.pdf

Braslavsky, C. (1999). The curriculum. Retrieved November 7, 2004. From http://www.ibe.unesco.org/hivaids/doc/cecilia%20e.pdf

Bryant S. & Timmins A. (2002). Portfolio Assessment: Instructional Guide. Hong Kong Institute of Education. Retrieved from: http://libdr1.ied.edu.hk/pubdata/img00/arch00/link/archive/1/instarh/1921_image.pdf

Comellas, M., Ballesteros, M., Lojo, M, Redó, M., & Sugranyes E. (2002). La acción tutorial. En M. Comellas (Ed.), Las competencias del profesorado para la acción tutorial. (1a. ed., pág. 147). Bilbao, España: Praxis.

Gimeno Sacristán, J. (1988). El currículum: una reflexión sobre la práctica. Madrid: Morata.

Jonnaert. P., Masciotra, D., Barrette, J., Morel D. and Yaya, M. (2006). Revisiting the Concept of Competence as an Organizing Principle for Programs of Study: from competences to competent action (original in French). IBE Working Paper on Curriculum Issues (on-line). Geneva: IBE/UNESCO. Retrieved on April 27, 2007, from

www.ibe.unesco.org/resourcebank/working_papers_previous.htm.

Hass, G. 1987. Curriculum Planning: A New Approach, 5th ed., Allyn & Bacon Inc. Newton, MA.

Perrenoud, P. (2011). Construir competencias desde la escuela. (J. Sáez, Ed., & M. Lorca, Trad.) México: Alejandría.

Proyecto Tunning (2014) Retrieved from: http://www.tuningal.org/

 

Willis, J. (1996) A framework for Task-based Learning. Longman

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