Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Effects of Paper-Based Portfolios and Weblog-Based Electronic Portfolios on Limited English Proficiency Students in Writing for Service Industry Course

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Effects of Paper-Based Portfolios and Weblog-Based Electronic Portfolios on Limited English Proficiency Students in Writing for Service Industry Course

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to investigate the effects of the use of paper-based and weblog-based electronic portfolios on the writing achievement of limited English proficiency students, to survey the students' attitudes towards the use of the portfolio assessment, and to compare the viewpoints of the students in the control and experimental groups. The study was conducted with 60 second-year hotel and tourism students enrolled in the Writing for the Service Industry course. They had limited English proficiency, as their previous English grades were C or below in average. The simple random sampling technique was used for subject selection and group assignment. Google's free weblog website (located at www.blogger.com) was used as a tool for creating and developing the students' personal electronic portfolios. At the beginning of the course, the students in the control group and the experimental group were trained in the concept of portfolios, and the purposes, content, and criteria used for assessment were discussed with the students. A writing achievement test and a closed-ended questionnaire were used for the quantitative data collection, while the qualitative data were gathered from the open-ended questions, interviews, and reflection. Descriptive statistics and t-tests were employed for the data analysis. It was found that the effects of the use of paper-based portfolios and weblog-based electronic portfolios on the writing achievement were not significantly different, but some promising results of the use of weblog-based electronic portfoliosfor language learning and assessment are indisputable.

Keywords: paper-based portfolios, weblog-based electronic portfolios, limited English proficiency students, writing for service industry

1. Introduction

In Thailand, hotel and tourism is one of the major business sectors of the country, and it has an influence on the country's national income and economic. According to the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) in 2014, Thailand is persistently one of the world's most famous destinations that attracts many tourists around the world. With the growing internationalized service industry enterprises and the upcoming economic cooperation of the countries in Southeast Asia or the AEC in 2015, it is not an overstatement to claim that effective English language communication skills will be one of the most desired skills for Thai graduate students to succeed in their professional careers.

Unfortunately, previous studies have shown that Thai students seem to have lower English proficiency compared to the students in other countries in Southeast Asia as Thailand ranks 55th out of 60 countries on the English Proficiency Index, which is the lowest among South-East Asian countries ("Thais' poor English could dim job prospects in ASEAN common market", 2015).

As regards hotel and tourism, previous study has demonstrated that Thai educational institutes have failed to produce graduates that reach the requirements and expectations of the tourism industry (Esichaikul & Baum, 1998). This failure in fact may be due to several factors, such as obsolete teaching and learning materials for the hotel and service industry, or the limitations of the English teaching methods and assessments (Chen, 2009). Without a doubt, the Thai workforce, especially those working in the service industry sector, will be at risk if their English language skills do not improve.

In tourism enterprises, English writing is considered an important means of communication for getting ideas or messages across to other business acquaintances (Leong & Li, 2012). Interestingly enough, among the four English skills, writing seems to be the most challenging skill since it requires extensive and specialized instruction and practice (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Hyland, 2003). Apart from the complexity of the writing skill itself, the problems of English writing instruction seem to multiply with limited English proficiency students due to their insufficient English knowledge and practice, negative learning beliefs, and dull learning experiences. …

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