From ePortfolio Performance Support Systems I read Chapter 7, which is titled “Showcase Hybridity: a Role for Blogfolios.” Middlebrook and Sun are essentially claiming that it would be good to combine blogging practices with ePortfolio practices in classroom settings and professional settings. They say that ePortfolios are static mediums, and that blogs are, in contrast, dynamic and could allow for customization of the “evidence showroom,” or the ePortfolio. They say blogs can also help express digital identity, and can facilitate web communication between students and higher-ups in the field. Specifically, then, blogs could potentially help students gain a sense of self and grounding in the field they choose. A blogfolio could be (and so far, has been) a great professional tactic.
Middlebrook and Sun lay out some obstacles for using a blogfolio. First, it would be difficult to train teachers in how to use them. Second, we would need to decide how to assess them. Third, we would need to invent assignments. Fourth, the whole process could lead to information overload for both student and teacher. Fifth, blogs are met with skepticism in academia. Sixth, there is, to a certain extent, a permanency of web entries; so, if a student writes something that is factually incorrect, irrational, too emotionally-driven, or unintelligent, there is a slight danger that it will haunt them in ways paper couldn’t. But Middlebrook and Sun communicate that the pros here outweigh the cons easily, especially since this kind of online composing could allow for professional contact in new and exciting ways.
Lam’s article “Two portfolio systems: EFL students’ perceptions of writing ability, text improvement, and feedback” seeks to find out how a select group of Chinese students responded to two different types of portfolio assessments. Lam mentions that the assessment environment in China is centered around examinations and products. Students are primarily interested in finding out what errors they make, though they do also want to know about how they are doing in terms of craft, organization, etc. The research for this article was conducted in a second semester writing class; the portfolios that were in question were composed of twelve written drafts (three for each of the four genres), and there were two types of portfolios: working and showcase. The students had to revise their drafts using self, peer, and instructor feedback.
This was a qualitative experiment seeking out detailed results; the information was gathered through interviews, examinations of reflection journals created by the students participating in the study, classroom observations, and analysis of the students’ texts. Lam’s findings section indicates that the students in Group A (the group trying the working ePortfolio) preferred (and really valued) instructor feedback more than peer feedback in earlier drafts, especially in terms of teaching them how to perform revisions. They said that, since peer feedback was less error-finding-oriented and more big-picture/clarity/paragraph development-oriented, it would be best saved for later drafts.
The students in Group B (the group trying showcase ePortfolios) were concerned that there was too much focus on the finished product rather than the process of writing itself. They also did not seem to trust, as easily, self and peer review, and they were more prone to procrastinate. Lam has several very helpful graphics that show the numbers involved with this study (and through them, he gives you many specific examples that illustrate his generalized claims). I encourage you to have a look at them if this study interests you.