Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Deaf College Students' Perspectives on Literacy Portfolios

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Deaf College Students' Perspectives on Literacy Portfolios

Article excerpt

The study examined haw literacy portfolios were used as tools in a college developmental English class in "which deaf students assessed their reading comprehension as well as their writing processes and products. The students' reading and writing assignments involved reflective thinking and were grounded in authentic tasks. Immediate feedback was provided. The study was multidimensional, longitudinal, and ongoing. A variety of field research techniques were used to ascertain the uses and influences of portfolios in regard to students' reading, writing, and reflective thinking. The results support the idea that the use of literacy portfolios can positively influence students who are deaf when they assess their reading and writing abilities.

Literacy portfolios were used in a developmental English class for deaf students at Gallaudet University during 1 academic year. The students in this class focused on ways in which they could assess their own reading and writing abilities. During this self-assessment process, students learned about strengths and weaknesses related to their reading and writing abilities, which enabled them to become actively engaged learners. For this research study, current assessment practices were examined for the purpose of providing a theoretical foundation.

Current Assessment Practices

Several of the assessment strategies used in the class were based on current theory that focuses on assessing students' performance on tasks and the processes students go through while they perform those tasks. Current research suggests that students and instructors should examine several assessment criteria before they assess student performance.

Wolf, Bixby, Glenn, and Gardner (1991) focus on four criteria that are necessary ingredients of student assessment: First, assessment should be multidimensional and longitudinal. Students should be assessed on the basis of a variety of products, such as written essays, interviews, reading logs, papers written in reaction to reading selections, and research projects. Assessment should occur over a long period in order to document growth. Second, standardized measures can be complemented and supported by tasks students do in their classes. This gives students the opportunity to reflect on their own quality of work as well as to discuss standards that are used to judge good work. Third, assessment should include feedback to students from their peers and instructors. Immediate feedback enables students to analyze what they have just completed. Fourth, assessment should help instructors engage in examining student work and encourage instructors to think about what they have taught and how they might change it.

Valencia, McGinley, and Pearson (1990) also established criteria to use when investigating assessment practices; in application, these extend the criteria established by Wolf et al. (1991). According to Valencia et al., the assessment process should include a time for students and teachers to collaborate about their work; also, assessment "must be grounded in knowledge" (p. 127). Teachers should be knowledgeable about what they are assessing so that they can prompt and guide their students, as well as ask them questions that promote thinking and learning. Valencia et al. further explain that assessment should be continuous. It can occur in a variety of situations and can happen all the time. Ongoing assessment need not be formal; it can be clone through routine teacher observations and daily activities.

Assessment should also be based on authentic tasks such as writing letters to public officials or the authors of books students have read, following directions when reading maps, or solving problems the students themselves have researched. Self-assessment is included in authentic assessment because students are analyzing what they have experienced and learned (Wiggins, 1989).

Self-reflection is an important component of assessment that helps students become more independent learners. …

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