Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ayatollah Borujerdi University, Iran

2 Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


With the abrupt emergence and dissemination of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional face-to-face classes were replaced by online classes in Iran. This quick shift has put great demands on finding and practicing new methods to teach and learn English in high schools. Owing to this urgent call, the present study follows a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it purports to disclose the effects of online portfolio assessment (PA) on developing Iranian high school students’ English writing skills. Secondly, it aims to excavate the Iranian high school students’ perceptions about the merits of online PA in cultivating their writing skills. To meet the aims, an intact second-grade class, including female students (n = 25), was chosen in Shahed public high school in Borujerd City. The class received online instruction (sixteen sessions lasting 90 minutes) based on the tenets of PA (e.g., collection, selection, and reflection). Then, a focus group interview was conducted with five of the active participants. Findings evidenced a significant improvement in the participants’ writing skills owing to the instruction. Additionally, the results of the focus group interview yielded some themes about the benefits of PA as perceived by Iranian high school students: ‘developing students’ autonomy’; ‘fostering a sense of belonging to classroom community’; ‘providing a comprehensive analysis of students’ writing proficiency’; ‘collecting empirical evidence on students’ gradual improvement in writing’; ‘training self-regulated students’; and ‘making classes student-centered by teachers-as-advisors’. Finally, a range of implications is presented to various stakeholders.


Main Subjects

Adobe Systems. (2019). Adobe Connect (version 10.6) [Mobile app]. App store.
Alleman, J., & Brophy, J. (1998). Assessment in a social constructivist classroom. Social Education, 62(1), 32-34.
Armstrong, C. L. (2011). Understanding and improving the use of writing portfolios in one French immersion classroom. Ontario Action Researcher, 11(2), 29.
Bachman, L. (2002). Some reflections on task-based language performance assessment. Language Testing, 19, 453-476.
Barootchi, N., &Keshavarz, M. H. (2002). Assessment of achievement through portfolios and teacher-made tests. Educational Research, 44(3), 279-288.
Belanoff, P., & Dickson, M. (Eds.). (1991). Portfolios: Process and product. Boynton/Cook.
Bouhnik, D., & Deshen, M. (2014). WhatsApp goes to school: Mobile instant messaging between teachers and students. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 13, 217-231.
Brown, H. D. (2014). Principles of language learning and teaching (5thed.). Longman.
Bryant, A. & Charmaz, K. (2007). The Sage handbook of grounded theory. Sage.
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 Evaluation, 43, 139-149.
Chen, Y. M. (2006). EFL instruction and assessment with portfolios: A case study in Taiwan. Asian EFL Journal, 8(1), 69-96.
Cohen, A. (1994). Assessing language ability in the classroom. Heinle.
Coombe, C., Purmensky, K., & Davidson, P. (2012). Alternative assessment in language education. In C. Coombe, P. Davidson, B. O’Sullivan, & S. Stoynoff (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language assessment (147-55). Cambridge University Press.
Crusan, D. (2010). Assessment in the second language writing classroom. University of Michigan Press.
Davis, N. L., Gough, M., & Taylor, L. L. (2019). Online teaching: advantages, obstacles and tools for getting it right. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 19, 1-8. 10.1080/15313220.2019.1612313
Delett, J. S., Barnhardt, S., & Kevorkian, J. A. (2001). A framework for portfolio assessment in the foreign language classroom. Foreign Language Annals, 34(6), 559-568.
Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford University Press.
Ekbatani, G., & Pierson, H. (2000). Learner-directed assessment in ESL. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Elliot, N., & Perelman, L. C. (Eds.). (2012). Writing assessment in the 21st century: Essays in honor of Edward M. White. Hampton Press.
Everson, M. (2009). 10 Things I’ve learned about teaching online. E-Learn Magazine, 9(2).
Farahian, M., & Avarzamani, F. (2018). The impact of portfolio on EFL learners’ metacognition and writing performance. Cogent Education, 5(1), 1-21. 10.1080/2331186X.2018.1450918
Fox, J. (2010). Alternative assessment. In E. Shohamy& N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education. Volume 7: Language testing and assessment (2nded.). Springer.
Gao, F. (2013). A case study of using a social annotation tool to support collaboratively learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 76-83.
Genesee, F., & Upshur, J. A. (1996). Classroom-based evaluation in second language education. Cambridge University Press.
Ghoorchaei, B., & Tavakoli, M. (2019). Self-assessment of writing in a portfolio program: A case of Iranian EFL learners. Iranian Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 8(2), 66-79.
Glaser, B. G. (2011). Getting out of the data: Grounded theory conceptualization. Sociology Press.
Gonza´ lez, J. A. (2009). Promoting student autonomy through the use of the European language portfolio. ELT Journal, 63(4), 373-382.
Gottlieb, M. (2000). Portfolio practices in elementary and secondary schools. In Ekbatani, G. & Pierson, H. (Eds.), Learner directed assessment in ESL (pp. 89-104). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Grower, R., Philips, D., & Walters, S. (1995). Teaching practice:  A handbook for teachers in training. McMillan.
Gue´nette, D. (2007). Is feedback pedagogically, correct? Research design issues in studies of feedback on writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16(1), 40-53.
Hamid, S., Waycott, J., Kurnia, S. & Chang, S. (2015). Understanding students’ perceptions on the benefits of online social networking use for teaching and learning, The Internet and Higher Education, 26, 1-9.
Hamp-Lyons, L. (2001). Fourth generation writing assessment. In T. Silva & P. K. Matsuda (Eds.), On second-language writing (pp. 117-128). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hamp-Lyons, L. (2007). The impact of testing practices on teaching: Ideologies and alternatives. In J. Cummins & C. Davison (Eds.), International handbook of English language teaching (pp. 478-504). Springer.
Hamp-Lyons, L., & Condon, W. (2000). Assessing the portfolio. Principles for practice, theory and research. Hampton Press.
Hamp-Lyons, L., & Kroll, B. (1996). Issues in ESL writing assessment: An overview. College ESL, 6(1), 52-72.
Hirvela, A., &Pierson,H. (2000). Portfolios: Vehicles for authentic self-assessment. In G. Ekbatani& H. Pierson (Eds.), Learner-directed assessment in ESL (pp. 105-26). Erlbaum.
Hirvela, A., & Sweetland, Y. L. (2005). Two cases studies of L2 writers’ experiences across learning-directed portfolio contexts. Assessing Writing, 10, 192-213.
Hung, D., & Huang, H. (2014). Portfolio assessment. In C. A. Chapelle (Eds.), Encyclopedia of applied linguistics (pp. 1-7). Blackwell Publishing.
Hung, S. (2006). Alternative EFL assessment: Integrating electronic portfolios into the classroom [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Indian University, Bloomington.
Hung, S. T. (2008). Promoting self-assessment strategies: An electronic portfolio approach. Asian EFL Journal, 11(2), 129-146.
Hyland. K. (2016). Teaching and researching writing (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Kane, G. C., &Fichman, R. G. (2009). The shoemaker's children: Using wikis for Information Systems teaching, research and publication. MIS Quarterly, 33(1), 1-17.
Klenowski, V. (2002). Developing portfolios for learning and assessment: Processes and principles. Psychology Press.
Klenowski, V. (2009). Assessment for learning revisited: An Asia-Pacific perspective. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 16(3), 263-268.
Lam, R. (2010). The role of self-assessment in students’ writing portfolios: A classroom investigation. TESL Reporter, 43(2), 16-34.
Lam, R. (2018). Portfolio assessment for the teaching and learning of writing. Springer Briefs in Education.
Lam, R., & Lee, I. (2009). Balancing the dual functions of portfolio assessment. ELT Journal, 64(1), 54-64.
Lee, I. (2011). Formative assessment in EFL writing: An exploratory case study. Changing English. Studies in Culture and Education, 18(1), 99-111.
Lo, Y. (2010). Implementing reflective portfolios for promoting autonomous learning among EFL college students in Taiwan. Language Teaching Research, 14(1), 77-95.
Mackey, A., &Gass, S. M. (2016). Second language research: Methodology and design (2nded.). Routledge.
Matsuno, S. (2009). Self-, peer-, and teacher-assessments in Japanese university EFL writing classrooms. Language Testing, 26(1), 075-100.
Munoz, C. L., & Towner, T. L. (2009). Opening Facebook: How to use Facebook in the college classroom [paper presentation]. The Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education Conference, Charleston, South Carolina.
Naghdipour, B. (2016). English writing instruction in Iran: Implications for second language writing curriculum and pedagogy. Journal of Second Language Writing, 32, 81-87. 10.1016/j.jslw.2016.05.001
Nezakatgoo, B. (2011). The effects of portfolio assessment on the writing of EFL students. English Language Teaching, 4(2), 231-241.
Nunan, D. (2004). Task-based language teaching. Cambridge University Press.
Nunan, D., & Wong, L. (2003). The e-portfolio as an alternative assessment instrument [paper presentation]. The fifth international CULI conference, Bangkok, Thailand.
Osman, G., & Koh, J. H. L. (2013). Understanding management students’ reflective practice through blogging. The Internet and Higher Education, 16, 23-31.
Pacansky-Brock, M. (2016). Humanizing online learning- Version 2.0. Retrieved.
Paulson, F. L., & Paulson, P. R. (1992). The varieties of self-reflection. Portfolio News, 4(1), 10-13.
Plonsky, L., & Ghanbar, H. (2018). Multiple regression in L2 research: A methodological synthesis and guide to interpreting R2 values. The modern Language Journal,102, 713-731.
Ramova, Z., & Andrew, M. (2011). Teaching and assessing academic writing via the portfolio: Benefits for learners of English as an additional language. Assessing Writing, 16(2), 111-122.
Riazi, A.M. (2016) Innovative Mixed-Methods Research: Moving beyond Design Technicalities to Epistemological and Methodological Realizations. Applied Linguistics, 37,33-49.
Schmidt, H. G. (1983). Problem-based learning: Rationale and description. Med.Educ.,17, 11-16.
Sharifi, A., & Hassaskhah, J. (2011). The role of portfolio assessment and reflection on process writing. Asian EFL Journal, 13(1), 193-223.
Silva, T. (1990). Second language composition instruction: Developments, issues, and directions in ESL. Second language writing: Research insights for the classroom, 11-23.
Song, B., & August, B. (2002). Using portfolios to assess the writing of ESL students: A powerful alternative? Journal of Second Language Writing, 11(1), 49-72.
Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. M. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for grounded theory. Sage.
Tompkins, G. (2010). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (5thed.). Allyn and Bacon.
Valencia, S. W., & Calfee, L. (1991). The development and use of literacy portfolios for students, classes, and teachers. Applied Measurement in Education, 4(4), 333-45.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Wasilik, O., & Bolliger, D. U. (2009). Faculty satisfaction in the online environment: An institutional study. TheInternet and Higher Education, 12 (3-4), 173-178.
Weigle, S. C. (2013). Assessing writing. Cambridge University Press.
WhatsApp LLC. (2020). WhatsApp LLC (version [Mobile app]. App Store.
Williams, J. (2005). Teaching writing in second and foreign language classrooms. McGraw Hill.
Yilmaz, S., & Akcan, S. (2012). Implementing the European language portfolio in a Turkish context. ELT Journal, 66(2), 166-174.
Zamel, V. (1982). Writing: The process of discovering meaning. TESOL Quarterly, 16(2), 195-209.
Ziegler, N. A., &  Moeller, A. J. (2012). Increasing self-regulated learning through the LinguaFolio. Foreign Language Annals, 45(3), 330-348.