Writing Portfolio: A Potential Support for Raising Language Awareness

by Daron Benjamin Loo


Maintaining cohesion across a variety of lessons and tasks is a common pedagogical strategy. In language instruction, cohesion helps students retain what was taught and to become more aware of language or communication features as a class progresses.

In ES 5000, where graduate students are equipped with fundamental academic writing skills to support their research endeavor, we had planned for tutorials and assignments to build on each other. The purpose for this is to help students recognize that writing is a skill that involves different but interrelated aspects, and that writing is a procedural and ongoing activity. Nonetheless, I felt that my students were still missing this ‘whole point’ – they were not applying what they had practiced in a previous lesson or task in a new writing activity.

This prompted me to think of ways I could implement in the future to make the link between these lessons more apparent. One approach which came to mind was for students to keep track of their own work through a portfolio. Compiling one’s own work into a portfolio is a common learning approach employed in various fields and professions (Kear & Bear, 2007). Learning through a portfolio is grounded in the social constructive theory, and is a form of learning that allows formative assessment. In writing, a portfolio can consist of multiple drafts of a written task. With a portfolio in place, a student can observe the learning progress he or she makes over time. A portfolio also creates a space where a student can self-reflect and interact with others, such as the instructor or peers. This may enable students to be self-regulatory through monitoring their own progress and place emphasis on the writing process and not on the product in isolation, which researchers claim to mirror writing in the real world (as opposed to summative writing) (Lam, 2013; Burner, 2014).

In the past, I had used portfolio as a learning strategy for university students majoring in English. Having their previous works at their disposal helped them address writing issues independently. Perhaps then, a portfolio could be introduced in ES 5000 (or other writing modules with a continuous assessment format) as a means to encourage language and writing awareness. It also helps students to keep track of their learning (for examples, see Aydin, 2010; Romova & Andrew, 2011; Lam, 2013; Burner, 2014).



Aydin, S. (2010). EFL writers’ perceptions of portfolio keeping. Assessing Writing15, 194-203.

Burner, T. (2014). The potential formative benefits of portfolio assessment in second and foreign language writing contexts: A review of the literature. Studies in Educational Evaluation43, 139-149.

Lam, R. (2013). Two portfolio systems: EFL students’ perceptions of writing ability, text improvement, and feedback. Assessing Writing, 18, 132-153.

Romova, Z., & Andrew, M. (2011). Teaching and assessing academic writing via the portfolio: benefits for learners of English as an additional language. Assessing Writing, 111-122.

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