(An Experlaiental Study at SMA Negeri 2 Sampit in the 2009/2010 Academic Year)


submitted as a f'uJfillment of the requirements t'or the awartl of Master Degree I~nglish Education. Department


Abdul Syahid S890908201





in the 200912010 Academic Year)


Abdul Syahid 8890908201

Approved by Consultants

Position Name

NIP I 9510912198003 lOQ2


Consultant I Dr. Sujoko, M. A.

Consultant II Drs. Heribertus Tarjana.M. A.

English Education Program Graduate School Sebelas Maret University Head,

Dr. Ngadiso, M. Pd.

NIP 196212311988031009



(An Experimental Study at SMA Negeri 2 Sampit in the 2009/2010 Academic Year)


Abdul Syahid S890908201

Approved by Team of Examiners






Dr. Ngadiso, M. Pd.

NIP 196212311988031009


Dr. Abdul Asib, M. Pd. NIP


Dr. Sujoko, M. A.

NIP 195109121980031002


Drs. Heribertus Tarjana, M. A.

Acknowledged by

The Director of Graduate School Sebelas Maret University

The Head of English Education Program

Prof. Drs. Suranto, M.Sc.,Ph.D. NIP. 195708021985031004

Dr. N gadiso, M. Pd.

NIP 196212311988031009



Abdul Syahid, S890908201. 2010. A Comparative Study on Teaching Writing By Paper-Based Portfolio Learning and Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning Viewed from Writing Interest (An Experimental Study at SMA Negeri 2 Sampit in the 20091201 0 Academic Year). Thesis. English Education Department, Graduate School, Sebelas Maret University, Surakarta.

The research is aimed at finding out whether: (1) electronic-based portfolio learning is more effective than paper-based portfolio learning in teaching writing, (2) the students who have high writing interest have higher writing competence than those who have low writing interest, and (3) there is the interaction effect between portfolio-based learnings and writing interest in teaching writing.

Related to the aims of the research, an experimental method was carried out.

The population was all of the tenth graders of SMA Negeri 2 in Sampit, East Kotawaringin regency. Two out of six classes consisting of 32 students were taken as the sample by applying cluster random sampling. The instruments for collecting the data were a questionnaire on writing interest and a writing test. Before the questionnaire was utilized, a tryout had been administered to know the validity of the items and the reliability of the questionnaire. Pearson's product moment correlation was used to calculate the validity of items while Cronbach's alpha reliability was employed to measure the internal consistency of items on the questionnaire. Before the writing test was taken by the students, an analysis of its readability had been completed by asking for some opinions of two English teachers and some students at same level whether the writing test provided was readable or not. For the data analysis, Multifactor Analysis of Variance and Tukey test were applied at u = .05 as soon as it was found that the samples were in normal distribution and the data were homogeneous based on the normality testing and homogeneity testing.

Based on the result of data analysis, it can be concluded that: (1) electronicbased portfolio learning is more effective than paper-based portfolio learning in teaching writing, (2) the students who have high writing interest have higher writing competence than those who have low writing interest, and (3) there is the interaction efefct between the portfolio-based learnings and writing interest in teaching writing.

The research finding implies that electronic-based portfolio learning is an effective technique in teaching writing for students who have high writing interest and paper-based portfolio learning is an effective technique in teaching writing for those who have low writing interest. Therefore, it is recommended that the teachers of English integrate the types of portfolio-based learning in accordance with the levels of students' writing interest.

Key-Words: teaching writing, paper-based learning, electronic-based portfolio learning, writing interest.



I whose autograph signed below:


ID Department

Abdul Syahid S890908210 English Education

certify that the thesis, entitled "A Comparative Study on Teaching Writing By PaperBased Portfolio Learning and Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning Viewed from Writing Interest (An Experimental Study at SMA Negeri 2 Sampit in the 200912010 Academic Year)" is wholly my own work unless otherwise referenced or acknowledged and has not previously been submitted for a degree nor has it been submitted as part of requirements for a degree except as fully acknowledged within the text.

Any help that I have received in my research work and the preparation of the thesis itself has been acknowledged. In addition, I certify that all information sources and literature used are indicated in the thesis.

If, then, this pronouncement proves wrong, I am ready to accept any academic punishment, including the withdrawal or cancellation of my academic degree.

Surakart , January 10-th, 2010



goa is the only one wfio does not grow tired of [istening to the man (Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855), Danish philosopher)

'M_y formula is amourJati, not onfy to Gear up uncfernecessity Gut also to rove it

(Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 - 1900), German philosopher and poet)



I7Ji' 0 my roving ummi, J-lj. CJ?jnti, ana my caring abah, J--f. Syullrie \LlI (j)jama[ wfio are a[ways witfi my dream.

"I am the luckiest son in the universe because I have you all in my life."

I7Ji' 0 my wife, Leny ?rtafiaa[ena, wfio is a[ways my navigator.

\LlI "Without you, I am lost in the sea of life. It is also said that behind every good man is a magnificent woman. If this is true, then I must be a good man because you are absolutely outstanding."

I7Ji' 0 my cfiuaren: CattCeya .J/_sya Putri (Leya), CJ{ofifi[afi[a .J/_afiie \LlI :P{ugrafia .J/_sya Putra (Jl[e), and Linus Osama .J/_sya Putra (Jlma), wfio fil[ my rife witfi fiappiness.

"I'Il always learn from you all. Am I a good leamer, my sweethearts?"



All praise and honor be to Allah SWT, the Lord of the Universe, Who has given the writer His blessing to accomplish the writing of this thesis.

The writer would like to express his deepest gratitude to his consultants, Dr.

Sujoko, M. A. and Drs. Heribertus Tarjana, M. A. for their encouraging advices, invaluable criticisms, patience and time, without which the study would not have been completed. They not only stood by him, but also inspired him to complete the project when he doubted his own ability to do so. He particularly thanks Dr. Ngadiso, M. Pd., the head of English Education Department, for being another supervisor.

He is grateful to all of the lecturers at English Education Department and his classmates in Class A and B for having made his academic life terrific and a source of happiness and contentment.

He certainly owes a debt gratitude to the Education, Youth and Sports Department of East Kotawaringin Timur regency for the grant of his scholarship and to the principal of SMA N egeri 2 Sampit, Drs. Hadri ans yah, M. Pd. and his colleagues at work for making it possible for him to take a study leave and conduct his project. He also wishes to extend his gratefulness to the students for taking part in the research and wish them well in their future.

In doing his master degree, he was also helped by many people who could not be completely mentioned here, especially his e-pals who have provided him a lot of ebooks for this thesis. He was really indebted to them all.

His heartfelt thanks go to his parents for their endless love, his parents-in-law for taking him as he is and, above all, his family for having faith in him, even when they do not always know what he is doing; faith is never something that can be underestimated.

As a famous saying goes, "Nobody's perfect," the writer knows very well that this thesis needs many improvements. The writer would like to accept any constructive criticisms and suggestions from any parts. Last but not least, it is hoped that this work will be useful for the readers who want to apply portfolio-based learning in their writing classes. To all of them, this thesis is humbly brought.













T ABLE OF FIGURES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. xu



A. Background of the Study


B. Identification of the Problems 13

C. Limitation of the Problems 14

D. Statement of the Problems........................................ 15

E. Objectives of the Study......................................... 15

F. Benefits of the Study 16


A. The Review of Writing Competence.......................... ... 18

1. Introduction...................................................... 18

2. The Definition of Writing Competence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 20

3. Writing Skills.................................................... 25

4. Writing - an Overlooked Skill 27

5. Process Writing 29

6. Students' Difficulties in English Writing 42


B. The Review of Paper- Based Portfolio Learning 53

1. The Nature of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning............. 54

2. Constructivist Learning 58

3. Characteristics of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning 64

4. Types of Paper-Based Portfolios 68

5. Implementation of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning....... 69

6. Advantages of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning............. 81

7. Disadvantages of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning......... 83

C. The Review of Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning.......... 85

1. The Nature of Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning 85

2. Constructivist Learning........................................ 87

3. Implementation of Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning.. 89

4. Advantages of Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning 99

5. Disadvantages of Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning 103

6. Points of Difference from Paper- Based

Portfolio Learning 106

D. The Review of Writing Interest 107

1. The Definition 107

2. Types ofInterest 110

3. Aspects of Interest 112

4. Developing Sustained Interest 114

5. Effects on the Teaching of Writing 115

6. Raising Interest in Writing 117

E. Rationale 118

F. Hypothesis 127


A. Setting of the Research 129

1. Time of the Research 129

2. Place of the Research 130

B. The Method of the Research 130


C. The Subject of the Research 136

1. Population 136

2. Sample 137

3. Sampling 138

D. The Techniques of Collecting Data 140

1. Questionnaire 140

2. Test 150

E. The Technique of Analyzing the Data 155


A. Data Description 165

1. Experimental Group 165

2. Control Group 173

B. Prerequisite Testing 179

1. Normality Testing 180

2. Homogeneity Testing 181

C. Hypothesis Testing 182

D. Discussion 186


A. Conclusion 196

B. Implication 197

C. Suggestion 198


..................................................................... 201 ..................................................................... 213


Table 2.1 Table 2.2 Table 2.3 Table 2.4 Table 2.5 Table 3.1 Table 3.2 Table 3.3 Table 3.4 Table 3.5 Table 3.6 Table 3.7 Table 3.8 Table 4.1 Table 4.2

Table 4.3

Table 4.4

Table 4.5


Stages of Portfolio Implementation 75

Prewriting ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

Samples of Revising/Editing Checklists 79

Six Levels of Electronic-Based Portfolio Software................ 95

Comparison of Development Processes 107

Time Schedule 129

Research Design 136

Scores of Writing Interest Questionnaire........................... 143

The Validity of the Questionnaire Items for Writing Interest.... 145

Analytic Scale for Rating Writing Test 154

Groups of Data 155

The Design of Multifactor Analysis of Variance 156

Summary of A 2 X 2 Multifactor Analysis of Variance 161

Descriptive Statistics 167

The frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the 168

students or the group taught by Electronic-based Portfolio

Learning (AI) ..

The frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the 170

students or the group having high writing interest taught by

electronic-based portfolio learning (AIBI) .

The frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the students or the group having low writing interest taught by

electronic-based portfolio learning (AIB2) 172

The frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the students or the group taught by paper-based portfolio learning

(A2) 174


The frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the students or the group having high writing interest taught by

paper-based portfolio learning (A2B1) 176

The frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the students or the group having low writing interest taught by

paper-based portfolio learning (A2B2) 178

Table 4.8 Normality Testing...................................................... 180

Table 4.6

Table 4.7

Table 4.9 Homogeneity Testing 181

Table 4.10 Summary of a 2 X 2 Multifactor Analysis of Variance 182

Table 4.11 Summary of Tukey Test 185


Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 2.3 Figure 2.4 Figure 2.5 Figure 2.6 Figure 2.7 Figure 3.1 Figure 4.1

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.7


Stages involved in process writing 30

A Model of Writing 31

Top-down Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 34

Interactive Stages of Process Writing......... 40

Quality Writing......................................................... 41

Outline 77

The Thinking Framework 127

A Likert Scale 142

The histogram/ polygon of the frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the students or the group taught by

Electronic-based Portfolio Learning (AI) 168

The histogram/ polygon of the frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the students or the group having high writing interest taught by electronic-based portfolio learning

(AIBI) 170

The histogram of the frequency distribution of the writing test scores of the students or the group having low writing interest

taught by electronic-based portfolio learning (AIB2) 172

The histogram of the frequency distribution of the writing test

scores of the students or the group taught by paper-based

portfolio learning (A2) 174

The histogram of the frequency distribution of the writing test

scores of the students or the group having high writing interest

taught by paper-based portfolio learning (A2BI) 176

The histogram of the frequency distribution of the writing test

scores of the students or the group having low writing interest

taught by paper-based portfolio learning (A2B2) 178

The interaction between the types of portfolio-based learning

and the level of writing interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 184


Appendix 1. Appendix 2. Appendix 3. Appendix 4. Appendix 5. Appendix 6. Appendix 7. Appendix 8. Appendix 9. Appendix 10. Appendix 11. Appendix 12. Appendix 13. Appendix 14. Appendix 15. Appendix 16.

Appendix 17. Appendix 18. Appendix 19. Appendix 20. Appendix 21. Appendix 22.

TABLE OF APPENDICES (in Chronological Order)

Blue Print of Writing Interest Questionnaire .

Writing Interest Questionnaire .

Answer Sheet of Writing Interest Questionnaire .

Blue Print of Writing Test .

ESL Composition Profile .

Writing Test .

Lesson Plan for the Experimental Group .

Lesson Plan for the Control Group .

An Application of Research Permission .

Recommendation .

Validity and Reliability of Writing Interest Questionnaire .

Data of Writing Interest Questionnaire .

Students of Experimental Group Sorted by Writing Interest .

Students of Control Group Sorted by Writing Interest .

Paper-based Portfolio Builder .

Correspondence with the Administrator of

www.writing.colostate.edu .

Samples of the Students' Works .

The Scores of Writing Test .

Descriptive Statistics .

Prerequisite Testing .

Multifactor Analysis of Variance and Tukey Test .

Letter of Notification .


213 214 221 222 224 229 231 253 276 277 278 285 295 296 297

338 340 344 349 373 383 390



A. Background ofthe Study

English is now widely considered to be a global language and the Indonesian

government has identified the urgent socio-political, commercial and educational

needs for Indonesian people to be able to better communicate in English. One

criterion for a language to be considered global is Crystal's (2003: 29) assertion that

the language is used in a number of countries, serving sometimes as a first language,

sometimes as a second or official language, and sometimes as a foreign language. By

this criterion, English has been global in scope since the 19th century. Another

measure of the global character of English lies in the number of people who speak it

as a first or second language - estimated to be 400 million for first language speakers

and more than double this number for second language speakers (Brutt-Griiller and

Samimy, 1999: 419). Kachru and Nelson (2001: 13) point out that English is used in

more countries throughout the world than any other language: "no other language

even comes close to English in terms of the extent of its usage".

English has become a lingua franca - a common language widely adopted for

communication between speakers whose native languages are different from each

other. Warschauer (2002: 64) puts it:

"The intersection of language with international networks and globalisation is perhaps most evident. Put simply, global trade, distribution, marketing, media and communications could not take place without a lingua franca. These processes of globalisation over the last thirty years have propelled English



from being an international language ... to becoming a truly global one, spoken and used more broadly than probably any other language in world history."

Kachru and Nelson (1996: 88) further note that:

" ... many non-native users of English employ it (English) as a common language to communicate with other non-natives, while the interactional contexts in which non-native and native speakers use English with each other are fast shrinking."

English is thus used for many purposes and by a wide range of speakers. First,

English is used as a language for international business communication. In this age

of globalization, the market has become a global one where people conduct business

with other people worldwide. Second, English is a dominant official language used

as a means for contact among governmental institutions and agencies such as the

United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary

Fund (IMF), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

(OECD). Crystal also points out that although languages other than English are used

for communication at meetings of the European Union, English is used as an

intermediary language or 'interlingua' to facilitate controversial communications in

which translating between languages is difficult or confusing (2003: 81). Notably,

English is the official working language of the Association of South East Asian

Nations (ASEAN) of which Indonesia is a member. Third, English is used globally

in education; as a vehicle in academic conferences and contacts; in international

tourism and air traffic control; and in entertainment, advertising, media and popular

culture (Harmer, 2001: 3). In addition, a great number of textbooks and educational

materials used worldwide are published in English.


The global nature of English has both enhanced and been stimulated by the growth of the Internet. Because most Internet hosts are based in English-speaking countries, particularly the United States, most web sites and communication through the Internet are based in English. In 1997, Graddol (2000: 50) notes that English was the medium for 80% of the information stored in the world's computers, and suggests that "English appears to have extended its domain of use to become the preferred lingua franca for the many new kinds of user who have corne on-line in the 1990s".

Because of the significance of English as a global language, Indonesia has had a long commitment to teaching English at all levels of education and there are many reasons why Indonesia needs to develop effective programs for the teaching of English. Increasing the general levels of performance in English is now seen as an important part of building a much more critical and independent community of people in Indonesia. The development of a critical capacity in the workforce at all levels is now seen as of great national importance, and the teaching of writing in both English and Indonesian assumes a new significance as a means by which critical capacities can be promoted.

The importance and the need for English and the teaching of English in Indonesia have been explicitly stated in several official documents released by the government, especially those related to education. The first document is the Competence-Based English Curriculum, released by the Department of National Education of Indonesia. In the rationale of this curriculum, it is stated that:


"As a language which is used by more than half of the world's population, English is ready to carry out the role as the global language. Apart from being the language for science, technology and arts, this language can become a tool to achieve the goals of economy and trade, relationship among countries, socio-cultural purposes, education and career development for people. The mastery of English can be considered as a main requirement for the success of individuals, the society and the nation of Indonesia in answering the challenges of the time in the global level. The mastery of English can be acquired through various programs, but the program of English teaching at school seems to be the main facility for Indonesian students." (Depdiknas, 2001: 1 - 2)

The curriculum further mentions the role of English in Indonesia as described


"In Indonesia, English is a means to grasp and develop science, technology and arts and culture. Furthermore, English has a tremendously significant role in founding the relationship between the nation of Indonesia and others in various fields such as social economy, trade and politics. Therefore English can be considered as a means to accelerate the developments of the Indonesian nation and country." (Depdiknas, 2001: 2)

Moreover, an important and interesting evidence of the significance of English

in Indonesia is the decision of the Congress of Bahasa Indonesia VII in Jakarta in

1998 (summarised by Erdina, 2001). Although the congress focused on Bahasa

Indonesia as bahasa persatuan (language for unity), the decision of the congress

stresses the prominence of English as a foreign language, and considers that the skills

of English cannot be separated from the development of human resources in facing

the globalization era. The decision of the congress, under the section Follow Up

regarding English as a Foreign Language, states:

"1) The improvement of English skills is an inseparable part of the development of human resources in facing the globalization era. Therefore, the availability and the use of the facilities as well as educational technology which can support the acquisition of the target language (English) need to be accorded a special importance. 2) The facilities and human resources for the teaching of English in tertiary education need to be developed to strengthen


the posrtion of the language as an effective tool m the international constellation ... " (cited in Erdina, 2001: 2).

The significance of English is also supported by Alwasilah, saymg that

foreign languages, specifically English, function as a source language in the process

of transferring technology from other countries and "the more people who master

English, the more textbooks and publications in bahasa Indonesia will be" (2000:

15). Alwasilah (2000: 8) also contends that English is important in empowering

someone in the society, by maintaining that those who master English tend to be

more respected than those who do not and that the latter groups of society do not get

as many economic privileges. The importance of English can also be seen in the

national school curricula, which will be taken up below.

The position of English in primary and secondary education can be depicted

as follows. In primary education (grades one to six), English is not explicitly

mentioned as a subject. However, it has become one of the subjects for the local

content. Based on the decree of the Minister of Education No. 060/u/1993 and the

policy referring to the 1994 curriculum, the teaching of English is formally

encouraged in primary schools as the subject for the local content. In high school,

English has been a compulsory foreign language subj ect throughout Indonesia. In

junior high schools (grades 7 - 9), English is taught in four teaching periods a week,

occupying the second highest number of teaching periods after the main subjects

such as Mathematics, Bahasa Indonesia, Science and Social Science. English also

has an important position in the senior high school curriculum. This can be seen from

the proportion of teaching periods for English in secondary education which is high.

English is taught four teaching periods a week in grade ten and eleven, one teaching


period less than Physics and Bahasa Indonesia and two teaching periods less than

Mathematics. In grade twelve, English gets a higher proportion, which is five

teaching periods a week, especially for the language program, which is 11 teaching

periods a week.

With respect to the release of the 2004 curriculum (later on adopted in the

2008 Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan), through which the genre-based

approach to teaching English is introduced to Indonesian schools, the socialization of

the curriculum which has been carried out so far by the government, involving some

teacher education institutions should lead to the promotion of teachers' competence

in applying the curriculum in the class. In doing so, the release of the new curriculum

will also bring about changes in the teaching practice of English in the classroom,

unlike the cases of the previous curricula.

Regarding the teaching of writing, specifically English writing, Alwasilah

(2001: 24) observes that writing is the most neglected skill in Indonesian schools. He


"Writing is not only less practised, but -if anything- is also taught unprofessionally .... Writing is the most exalted language skill, yet it has been the most neglected one in our education. Our high school and college students are subjected to unprofessional teachers and professors. Most of the teachers and professors lack writing skills, informed understanding of the nature of writing and teaching strategies." (2001: 25-26)

Surveying 100 freshmen representing high schools in West Java, Alwasilah

(2001: 24) concludes that (i) writing is considered most difficult to learn by the

majority of the students; (ii) students are barely exposed to the practice of writing;

and (iii) teachers lacks information and knowledge on what they should do regarding

their students' composition. From his findings, he further insists that Indonesian


university students' writing capacity cannot be expected to be good, for two reasons. Firstly, students who enter university do not have solid English writing skills, given the lack of provision of such skills in high school education. Secondly, colleges also fail to demonstrate a strong commitment to the development of writing skills.

Writing is not solely the product of an individual, but is a social and cultural act (Weigle, 2002: 19). Writing is 'an act that takes place within a context, that accomplishes a particular purpose, and that is appropriately shaped for its intended audience' (Hamp-Lyons and Kroll, 1997: 8). In a similar vein, Sperling (1996: 55) notes that 'writing, like language in general, [is] a meaning making activity that is socially and culturally shaped and individually and socially purposeful." From this perspective, learning to write involves much more than simply learning the grammar and vocabulary of the language (Weigle, 2002: 20).

Writing in English is generally regarded as a difficult skill by EFL students.

If the exercise is not a controlled writing exercise, the learners may not feel confident when they write. They may find it a struggle to generate ideas in order to finish a long essay as Indonesian education still emphasizes memorization and rote learning and such a teaching methodology is particularly inappropriate for the teaching of foreign languages (Todd, 2004: 15). In this educational context, Indonesian students rarely have a chance to generate and express ideas. Therefore, writing, as a productive skill, tends to be a serious problem for them.

The teaching of writing in the classroom in Indonesia has been modeled on product-oriented approaches emphasizing quality of writing. Students have been expected to create a good written product. As Nunan (1989: 36, 1991: 86-87) claims,


the classroom activities used in this approach often involve imitating or copying and changing words from a model text to produce a new text.

In such a teaching of writing primarily focused on product, aImmg at producing coherent and error free text, the teachers of English generally pay little attention to other considerations such as purpose, audience or the processes of composing the text itself. As a result, students may be able to write a specific text type as instructed, but are unable to apply the knowledge thus gained to produce more varying writing as required.

In a normal English class at schools, the approach used in teaching writing is described as product-oriented, with course books prepared by individual teachers. The lessons revolve around the presentation of a text in terms of its text types. If a text is a description of a place, then only the linguistic features and text organization are presented. There are neither references to the text's social function nor its register. Quite often, there are scaffolding exercises on problematic language features and aspects of paragraph organization. However, there are no exercises where teacher and students engage in any joint constructing activity, though the teacher sometimes assigns group writing activities among students. As a result, students eventually associate and memorize particular features with particular text types, without actually gaining control over them. As these students progress further in their education, they find complex writing even more difficult to accomplish.

As stated before, English in Indonesia remains a foreign language. This has consequences for teaching and learning as follows. For most students, English is regarded as one subject in the school curriculum. Students usually lack exposure to


an authentic English learning environment, materials, and possibilities for engaging with the culture of (native speakers of) the target language beyond the classroom. Texts used in class are mostly commercial textbooks which sometimes fail to provide authentic types of English used in real contexts. In particular, the teaching of writing without providing an audience to whom the students' work can be shown and traditional in-class writing instruction that pay little attention to the process of writing are artificial. In such artificial English classrooms, students may take low interest in learning English in general and writing in English in particular.

Concerning the teaching of writing, Rijlaarsdam and Van Den Bergh (2005: 9) state that one of the foci of the actions to improve the writing curriculum is to raise students' interest in writing, assuming that increased interest leads to more involvement in learning. Moreover, Schraw and Lehman (2009: 510) postulate that interest is significantly related to learning in three important ways. One way is that interest increases motivation, engagement, and persistence. A second way that interest is related to learning is through strategy use. A third way that interest affects learning is through deeper information processing. Thus, interest plays a great role in the students' learning achievement and writing interest playa significant role in the students' writing competence too.

Five minutes of work on a writing task may feel like hours to a student who does not know what the next steps need to be, or even what the longer- range goals for the work are-especially if the student does not have an interest for the writing task. Similarly, a student with a writing interest are able to briefly glance at the differences between the ways how to write a recount text and a narrative text and


decide he knows them, while another, equally able student with a lower writing interest, has to work after school to learn these text types. This illustration informs that interest factor in teaching is of importance.

Underpinned by the brief theoretical foundations and encountered problems above, as a teacher of English, the writer begins to investigate alternative methods in teaching writing that can enhance interest in writing. In this research, the method chosen by the writer is portfolio-based learning, where writing supports the development of the portfolio and writing is the ultimate educational aim.

It is stated by Richards and Schmidt (2002: 406) that portfolio is a purposeful collection of work that provides information about someone's efforts, progress or achievement in a given area. They further assert, "It is a learning as well as assessment tool." According to Herman and Stephen (undated: 137), it is a process that can serve a variety of purposes. Specifically, the point of view that portfolio is a learning tool is the bedrock of this research, in terms of theoretical and practical frameworks.

Apart from that, in relation to the platform of portfolio as a learning tool Richards and Schmidt (2002: 406 - 407) list some characteristics of portfolio as applied in language learners. They are:

a. the learner is involved in deciding what to include in the portfolio;

b. the learner may revise material in the portfolio after feedback from the teacher or others;

c. the learner is required to assess or reflect on the work in the portfolio thus becoming aware of personal development;


d. there is evidence of mastery of knowledge;

e. it may include various forms of work, such as written work, audio

recording, video recording, etc.

Herman and Stephen (undated: 13 8) portray the use of portfolio as follows:

"During the instructional process, students and teachers work together to identify significant pieces of work and the processes required for the portfolio. As students develop their portfolio, they are able to receive feedback from peers and teachers about their work. Because of the greater amount of time required for portfolio projects, there is a greater opportunity for introspection and collaborative reflection. This allows students to reflect and report about their own thinking processes as they monitor their own comprehension and observe their emerging understanding of subjects and skills. The portfolio process is dynamic and is affected by the interaction between students and teachers."

Therefore, portfolio-based learning encourages the students to improve their

writing competence and increases their interest in writing English. In addition,

through portfolio-based learning, the teachers of English can provide documentation

on a student's language development, especially in writing English. The collection

should include evidence of a student's reflection and self-evaluation, guidelines for

selecting the portfolio contents and criteria for judging the quality of the work. The

goal is to help students assemble portfolios that illustrate their talents, represent their

writing competency and tell their stories of school achievement (Venn, 2000: 530).

Portfolio itself can be divided into two types, namely paper-based portfolio

and electronic portfolio ("electronic portfolio," 2007; van Wesel and Prop, 2008: 1).


In writing class, paper-based portfolio includes:

1. Showcase portfolios that highlight the best products over a particular time period or course such as the best examples of different writing genres (an essay, a poem, a short story, a biographical piece, or a literary analysis;

2. Process portfolios that concentrate on such journey of learning as different stages of the process: an outline, first draft, peer and teacher responses, early revisions, and a final edited draft; and

3. Evaluation portfolios that exhibit a series of evaluations over a course and the learning or accomplishments of the student in regard to previously determined criteria or goals such as documents tests, observations, records, or other assessment artifacts required for successful completion of the course (Fernsten, 2009: 694).

Secondly, an electronic portfolio, also known as an e-portfolio or digital portfolio may be one of the above portfolio types or a combination of different types, a general requirement being that all information and artifacts are somehow accessible on-line (Fernsten, 2009: 694). It may include inputted text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks. With this type of portfolio, students are able to visually track and show their accomplishments to a wider audience. Eportfolios are both demonstrations of the user's abilities and platforms for selfexpression, and, if they are on-line, they can be maintained dynamically over time.

Before replacing a well established paper-based portfolio with an electronic version, a comparison of e- and paper-based portfolios on their shared potential merits such as support for self-reflection and effect on learning outcomes in a similar


ecological setting ought to be carefully undertaken. Due to the underlying theories above, the problems encountered in the teaching of writing, and the preceding consideration that he takes into account, the writes compares the effects of the types of portfolio-based learnings and students' writing interest on the students' writing competence in a study entitled "A Comparative Study on Teaching Writing by Paper-Based Portfolio Learning and Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning (An Experimental Study at SMA Negeri 2 Sampit in the 2009/2010 Academic


B. Identification of the Problems

Based on the prior section, the writer identifies some problems, such as:

1. Why do many students still get difficulties in writing?

2. What makes writing difficult?

3. What are the difficulties encountered by the students in writing?

4. How can the teacher of English as a foreign language implement a portfoliobased learning?

5. What are the differences between the implementation of electronic-based

portfolio and paper-based portfolio learning?

6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of those portfolio-based learning?

7. Is portfolio-based learning effective to teach writing?

8. Which portfolio is best applied to get better achievement?

9. Are the students interested in learning English? 10. Are the students interested in learning writing?


11. Are students interested in writing?

12. Does the students' interest influence their writing competence?

13. Does portfolio-based learning make the students interested in learning writing?

14. Which students are better, students who have high writing interest or those who have low writing interest in their English writing competence?

15. What kind of topic will be used in English instructional activity by using those methods?

16. Is there any interaction between writing interest and English instructional activity by using those portfolio-based learnings in student's English writing skill?

c. Limitation of the Problems

Since there are several problems that emerge on the identification of the problems above, the research problems are limited to the comparison between the implementation of electronic-based portfolio learning and that of paper-based portfolio learning in teaching writing viewed from students' writing interest. In other words, the research is focused on the problems which are supposed to influence the students' writing competence namely: the portfolio-based learnings employed by the teacher and the students' writing interest.


D. Statement of the Problems

On the basis of the previous sections, the problems of the study are formulated as follows:

1. Is electronic-based portfolio learning more effective than paper-based portfolio learning in teaching writing?

2. Do students who have high writing interest have higher writing competence than those who have low writing interest?

3. Is there the interaction effect between the portfolio-based learnings and the students' writing interest in teaching writing?

E. Objectives of the Study

This research is aimed to find out the effects of portfolio-based learnings and writing interest on the students' writing competence. In particular, this research is proposed to find out whether:

1. Electronic-based portfolio learning is more effective than paper-based portfolio learning in teaching writing.

2. Students who have high writing interest have better writing competence than those who have low writing interest.

3. There is the interaction effect between portfolio-based learnings and writing interest in teaching writing.


F. Benefits of the Study

After conducting the research, the writer expects that the portfolio-based learning utilized in this research can improve the students' writing competence. If interest also plays an important role for the students' writing competence, it becomes a crucial thing and it cannot be neglected during the teaching-learning process to support the students' competence, especially in their writing competence. The result of the research can also inform the interaction between teaching methods and students' interest in terms of their writing competence. If there is an interaction, it is necessary to consider the use of more appropriate portfolio-based learning types for the students who have high writing interest and those who have low writing interest.

This study will prove beneficial to the process of English language teachinglearning, especially in teaching writing, for the following parties.

a. To the researcher, it develops the researcher's knowledge on the development of various techniques implemented in teaching English writing to advance another research.

b. To other researchers, the result of this study can be a basis to carry out other researches and a reference to study writing competence and take into consideration in their researches. This research also gives brief knowledge to another researcher to conduct a similar research in another school with another research subject by using the result of this study as a starting point to conduct the next research.


c. To the teachers of English, this research enriches the teachers' knowledge on the use of various portfolio-based learnings in teaching English writing. This, in tum, enhances teaching and learning English by providing students with a more authentic and meaningful learning environment. A variety of learning strategies that are applied by the teacher makes the students interested in learning English, especially in English writing, and applying it for the real purpose.

d. To the students, the study is also beneficial for them to find meaningful strategy to overcome their problems, not only in improving their English writing competence but also in increasing their writing interest. They will be highly interested by various strategies and techniques applied in the classroom.

e. To the school, the research is valuable in giving beneficial contribution of the improvement of the English language teaching at school. In addition, the rapid development of Information Computer Technology (lCT) that cannot be ignored must be well integrated and effectively exploited in teaching-learning process to improve the learning outcomes.



In this chapter, the writer takes a journey into an exploration of theoretical foundations of the research. At the outset, he journeys into the review of writing competence. The next journey is into the review of portfolio-based learning that is explored under such headings as paper-based portfolio learning and its counterpart, electronic-based portfolio learning. Before ending the journey of this chapter with hypothesis formulation, he travels the writing interest and explores the rationale of the research.

A. The Review of Writing Competence 1. Introduction

The acquisition of a language, whether our native tongue or a second language presumes a process in which both receptive skills such as listening and reading) and productive skills such as speaking and writing (Richards and Schmidt, 2002: 293) intervene to affect and complement each other simultaneously. It is through the integration of these four separate skills that learners' language performance is comprehensively strengthened to attain the desired communicative competence. In other words, the desired competence is the competence to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, to use language according to the parameters imposed by the speech community in which they are inserted. According



to Hyrne (in Widdowson, 1989: 132), who coined the term communicative

competence, these parameters not only involve the knowledge of composing

sentences correctly according to grammatical rules but also the possibility, feasibility

and appropriateness of the utterance.

This interactive nature of communication closely intertwines listening and

speaking skills together as they are usually the function through which the ability to

perform in another language is measured (Nunan, 1999: 225), just as reading and

writing go hand in hand and demonstrate that the leaner is part of a literate society.

However, not all four skills are regarded as equal. While speaking and listening are

the starting points in the acquisition of a language and are learned naturally, writing

and reading are 'culturally specific, learned behaviors' (Brown, 2001: 334) which are

acquired only if someone is taught, much like the ability to swim. Because all of the

questions on writing and the teaching of writing are based on it, Brown's prologue of

Chapter 19: Teaching Writing (2001: 334) is interesting to quote:

"How is writing like swimming? Give up? Answer: The psycho linguist Erie Lenneberg (1967) once noted, in a discussion of "species specific" human behavior; that human beings universally learn to walk and to talk, but that swimming and writing are culturally specific learned behaviors. We learn to swim if there is a body of water available and usually only if someone teaches us. We learn to write if we are members of a literate society, and usually only if someone teaches us. Just as there are non-swimmers, poor swimmers, and excellent swimmers, so it is for writers. Why isn't everyone an excellent writer? What is it about writing that blocks so many people, even in their own native language? Why don't people learn to write "naturally," as they learn to talk? How can we best teach second language learners of English how to write? What should we be trying to teach?"

Another analog of writing uttered by Fitzgerald (1896-1940), a famous American writer. His famous quotation goes, "All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath" (Marc: 2008).


The two analogies compare the difficulties of writing to those of swimming,

for even though one may learn to swim and to write this does not imply that the skill

will be mastered, even if one is proficient in a language. Writing is not a spontaneous

skill or acquired easily, in fact, it is viewed as 'probably the most difficult thing to do

in language' (Nunan, 1999: 271). While speech allows the user to exploit various

devices such as body movement, gestures, facial expression, tone of voice, pitch,

hesitation and stress to facilitate communication, this is not available to the writer.

Nor can the writer clarify revise or backtrack ideas when there is miscommunication

or misunderstanding between reader and writer (Hedge, 2005: 7). Writing to be

effective is dependant on a number of features which are not shared by spoken

language, not only in terms of linguistic and pragmatic features but also the context

in which it will be interpreted (Nunan, 1999: 271). This section provides some

definitions of writing competence, a brief overview of process writing and how the

various stages involved in process writing may be used to address some of the

previously mentioned features to help develop students' writing skills.

2. The Defmition of Writing Competence

Gnanadesikan (2009: 1) opens her book by reminding the readers of the fact

that writing is a miracle. In the first paragraph, she emphasized:

"This sentence is a time machine. I wrote it a long time before you opened this book and read it. Yet here are my words after all this time, pristinely preserved, as good as new. The marvelous technology that allows the past to speak directly to the future in this way is by now so pervasive that we take it for granted: it is writing."


She further highlights:

"Imagine a world without writing. Obviously there would be no books: no novels, no encyclopedias, no cookbooks, no textbooks, no telephone books, no scriptures, no diaries, no travel guides. There would be no ball-points, no typewriters, no word processors, no Internet, no magazines, no movie credits, no shopping lists, no newspapers, no tax returns. But such lists of objects almost miss the point. The world we live in has been indelibly marked by the written word, shaped by the technology of writing over thousands of years."

The big question that lies and underpins the research is how to conceptualize

or define the miracle if writing is not merely writing?

Generally, writing can be interpreted as the act of forming or tracing a

character on paper or other suitable materials with a pen or pencil. Rivers (1968:

242) distinguishes writing from other skills according to the forms ranging from the

simplest to the most highly developed one. From its simplest one, writing can be

conceived as the act of putting down in conventional graphic from something that

had been spoken.

Another definition is given by Michael (1981: 10) who says that writing can

be a systematical visible and permanent representation of the auditory and transient

phenomena of speech. Byrne (1993: 24) defines that writing is a primary means of

recording speech, even though it must be acknowledged as a secondary medium of


It is more elaborately defined by Flower (1989: 54) that:

"Writing is a social act that can only occur within a specific situation. It is therefore influenced both by the personal attitudes and social experiences that the writer brings to writing and the impacts of the particular political and institutional context in which it interviews, analyses of surrounding practices and other techniques, researchers seek to develop more complete accounts to local writing contexts."


In line with Flower, Nystrand (1989: 75) also states that writing is a matter of

elaborating text in accordance with what the writer can reasonably assume that the

reader knows and expects, and the process of reading is a matter of predicting text in

accord with what the reader assumes about the writer's purpose.

Harmer (2004: 86) states that writing is a process and what is written is often

heavily influenced by the constraints of genres as elements that have to be present in

learning activities.

After quoting Plato who utters that written language addresses the reader

when its author is absent and has no capacity to respond, Holme (2004: 154) defines

philosophically that writing is an ability to make a form of words that in general it

may have a higher truth value than the fact that it has set it down (2004: 160).

According to Gelb and Whiting (2008) writing is a way of recording

language in visible form and giving it relative permanence. Byrne (1993: 1)


"But writing is clearly much more than the production of graphic symbols, just as speech is more than the production of sounds. The symbols have to be arranged according to certain conventions to form words, and words have to be arranged to form sentences, although again we can be said to be 'writing' if we are merely making lists of words, as in inventories of items such as shopping lists."

He further (1993: 1) concludes that writing IS a sequence of sentence

arranged in a particular order and linked together in certain ways.

Writing, more particularly, refers to two things: writing as a noun, the thing

that is written; and writing as a verb, which designates the activity of writing. It

refers to the inscription of characters on a medium, thereby forming words, and


larger units of language, known as texts. It also refers to the creation of meaning and the information thereby generated ("Writing," 2009).

Another definition of writing is stated by Nunan, (1999: 273) saying that writing is a 'complex, cognitive process that requires sustained intellectual effort over a considerable period of time' as, according to Hedge (2005: 7), there is a need to organize the development of ideas or information; ambiguity in meaning must be avoided through accuracy; the writer must choose from complex grammatical devices for emphasis or focus; and finally, they must pay attention to the choice of vocabulary, grammatical patterns and sentence structures to create a feasible meaning and an appropriate style to the subject matter and reader.

According to Petty and Jensen (1980: 362), writing is the mental and physical act of forming letters and words. But it is much more than that, it is putting words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, spelling word correctly, punctuating and capitalizing in customary ways, and observing conventions in written forms and more. Writing is a process of expressing thoughts and feelings of thinking and shaping experiences. This definition refers to a process taking place in human's brains. That is why the definition becomes a starting point in defining the term of writing.

The writing itself is influenced both by the personal attitudes and social experiences that the writer brings to writing and the impacts of the particular political and institutional contexts. It is also a process that what is written is influenced by the constraints of genre.


Writing, thus, can be defined as a mental and physical process of expressing thought and feelings by forming words into a sequence of arranged sentences leading to the creation of meaning and the information, organizing the development of ideas or information, choosing from complex grammatical devices for emphasis or focus, paying attention to the choice of vocabulary, grammatical patterns and sentence structures, observing conventions in written forms to create a feasible meaning and an appropriate style to the subject matter and reader.

The term 'competence' is generally defined as the ability to do something well, measured against a standard, especially ability acquired through experience or training and linguistically, knowledge of a language that enables somebody to speak and understand it (Microsoft® Encarta® 2009). It is defined by Richards and Schmidt (2002: 93 - 94) that competence is the implicit system of rules that constitutes a person's knowledge of a language. This includes a person's ability to create and understand sentences, including sentences they have never heard before, knowledge of what are and what are not sentences of a particular language, and the ability to recognize ambiguous and deviant sentences. They also differentiate between competence and performance, which is the actual use of the language by individuals in speech and writing.

They, however, add an entry of competencies related to competency based teaching, an approach to teaching that focuses on teaching the skills and behaviors needed to perform competencies. In this point of view, competencies are descriptions of the essential skills, knowledge and behaviors required for the effective performance of a real world task of activity.


Therefore, in this study, writing competence can be stated as skills, knowledge, and behaviors of writing that enable a person to express his/ her ideas, thoughts, and feeling by forming words into a sequence of arranged sentences leading to the creation of meaning and the information, organizing the development of ideas or information, choosing from complex grammatical devices for emphasis or focus, paying attention to the choice of vocabulary, grammatical patterns and sentence structures, observing conventions in written forms to create a feasible meaning and an appropriate style to the subject matter and reader.

3. Writing Skills

As discussed before, in order to make it operational, the construct of writing competence is viewed under the term 'skills'. Skill is defined as the ability to do something well, usually gained through training or experience and something that requires training and experience to do well, e.g. an art or trade (Microsoft® Encarta® 2009). According to Richards and Schmidt (2002: 293), in language teaching, skill is defined as the mode or manner in which language is used. Thus, writing skills are the trained or experienced manner in which English written language is used.

Brown (2004: 220) derives a checklist of writing skills, which are what a writer must employ in the process of writing. So they represent the specific skills called for in smooth writing process. The comprehensive taxonomy of writing skill is also developed from a variety of sources, including needs analysis, discourse analysis, and related research. The following is the taxonomy of writing skills as postulated by Brown (2003: 343).


1. Produce grapheme and orthographic patterns of English;

2. Produce writing at an efficient rate of speed to suit the purpose;

3. Produce an acceptable core of words and use appropriate word order patterns;

4. Use acceptable grammatical systems (e.g. tense, agreement, pluralization patterns

and rules);

5. Express a particular meaning in different grammatical forms;

6. Use cohesive devices in written discourse.

7. Use the rhetorical forms and conventions of written discourse;

8. Appropriately accomplish the communicative function of written texts according to form and purpose;

9. Convey links and connection between events, and communicate such relation as main idea, supporting idea, new information, given information, generalization, and exemplification;

10. Distinguish between literal and implied meanings when writing;

11. Correctly convey culturally specific references in the context of the written text;

12. Develop and use of writing strategies, such accurately assessing the audience's interpretation, using pre-writing devices, writing the fluency in the first drafts, using paraphrases and synonyms, soliciting peer and instuctor feedback, and using feedback for revising and editing.

It can be seen that the checklist can be very helpful in planning a specific technique or writing module, focusing on clearly conceptualized objectives, and putting testing criteria.


The procedures in teaching writing itself, according to Ur (1996: 162 - 163), must take into accounts whether the writing is as a means or as end. If it is as an end, writing is simply used as either as a means of getting the students to attend to and practice a particular language point or as a testing method. If it is meant to be an end, at the micro level, the students practice specific written forms at the level of word or sentence and at the macro level, the emphasis is on content and organization. Finally, the combination of writing as a means and an end is in the form of purposeful and original writing with the learning or practice of some other skill or content.

Therefore, it is of importance to clarify the objective of the teaching of writing as it determines the classification of writing activities.

4. Writing - an Overlooked Skill

The complexity of factors involved in effective writing would presume that a substantial amount of time is dedicated to writing in language programs. Nonetheless, as White and Arndt (1991: 1) point out, 'it has tended to be a much neglected part of the language programme', despite the power of writing as a permanent record, as a form of expression and as a means of communication. It would seem that, in general, this may still be very true today for a number of reasons, and when the writer refers to writing, it is the writing of whole texts, not writing which is mainly used to assist in the learning of new structures or vocabulary on a sentence level, used by teachers to monitor and diagnose students' problems (Hedge,

2005: 10).


In the era of communicative teaching, it is possible that communicative competence IS often misunderstood as only referring to oral skills when in fact communicative competence involves all four skills in language, and writing (of whole texts) may often be neglected by teachers and students for all the wrong reasons: Students in the main consider writing to be important but regard writing assignments as "tedious" mainly due to:

the design or purpose of writing activities in course books and their unrealistic or non-authentic nature;

the non-interactive nature of the activity; finding the process of generating ideas difficult; finding the process of organizing ideas difficult;

not enjoying it when they have limited time to complete assignments, as in exam situations

Teachers, on the other hand, often pressed for time to complete a set program, may in many instances cut writing assignments or relegate them to homework. It is interesting to verify that writing assignments are often found at the end of each unit in course books and may on occasions have a weak or non-authentic contextual link to the unit. Perhaps this sub-consciously influences teachers to send them as homework assignments with little or no prior discussion in class to provide support or a framework that will aid students to generate ideas. Teachers may also find that they have very little direct control over how students write, due to the intricate nature of writing. Despite spending a substantial time correcting, making suggestions,


teachers verify that over time very little improvement occurs. Students repeatedly make the same mistakes, whether these are linguistic or structural.

5. Process Writing

If the teaching of writing is divided into separate stages to reflect the various moments involved in the process of writing then perhaps many of the obstacles experienced by both students and teachers can be addressed. Writing practice in the classroom however, is often taken up for display purposes, to assess if students have learned language structures taught in class and for examination purposes. Here, the teacher is concerned with the final product of writing: an essay, a report, an article or story, based on standard models; that these meet the standard English rhetorical style; and are grammatically correct and organized in a conventional manner (Brown, 200 1: 335). Thus writing is apparently used to promote language learning, through models, rather than to encourage creativity and communication and language acquisition. To an extent, students simply have to follow a structure that has been provided, 'copy' the main structures and 'fill in' the rest depending on the context or writing task. An example might be a commercial letter,

I'm writing to inform you that ... ,

or report which are made up of pre-set expressions and sentences. Good writers will manage without any real difficulty and will know how to include more detailed information, whereas weak writers will limit themselves to the pre-set structures and will not learn nor practice how to develop ideas and put these into words.

Process writing, defined by Hedge (2005: 49) is a more effective method of

teaching writing as it helps students to focus on the process of creating text through

the various stages of generating ideas, drafting, revising and editing, a number of

activities which can be represented as in the figure below.

Figure 2.1 Stages involved in process writing (Hedge, 2005: 51)

being getting

motivated ----+ ideas ----+

to together


planning making making revlsmg editing and

and ----+ notes ____..,.a first ----+ replanning ----+ getting

outlining draft redrafting ready for publication

White and Arndt (1991 :3) describe writing as

"A form of problem-solving which involves such processes as generating ideas, discovering a 'voice' with which to write, planning, goal-setting, monitoring and evaluating what is going to be written as well as what has been written and searching for language with which to express exact meaning. "

In a simplified manner, Figure 2.2, tries to demonstrate the complex and

recursive nature of writing and the interaction between the different operations which

may occur simultaneously (White and Arndt, 1991: 4; Hedge, 2005: 50). Cognitive

process or thinking is not linear. However, writing is linear and a writer must know

how to organize hislher thoughts and message in an appropriate manner. Many

writers often do not know what they want to write beforehand and many ideas are

only revealed once the writer has started. They then move backwards to revise and

change words or structures before they move forwards and they continue doing this

until they are satisfied with the end result. Thus, writing is a 'process through which

meaning is created' (Zamel, 1982: 195).


Figure 2.2 A Model of Writing (White and Arndt, 1991:43)

_Ge~¢.~ating 'ideas,1



$~ruct~ring I



a. Generating Ideas

Many reading activities or lessons include pre-reading tasks with the aim of

activating learners' background knowledge (schema). This is a top-down approach

which aids students to predict the type of information they will encounter and will

help them interpret the text, as readers will only have to concentrate on what they do

not know. The same concept should be used in writing. Lessons should try to take an

organic and experiential approach, in other words, allow students to put into practice

what was taught, or discussed in class, with authentic or semi-authentic tasks. One

activity naturally flows into the next. The first part of the lesson may almost be

considered the pre-writing stage to develop ideas. An example might be a descriptive

essay which follows a lesson or section on adjectives. An opinion essay could follow

a class discussion about a specific topic. Another good pre-writing activity is the use


of brainstorming, especially if we consider the complexity of writing and how generating ideas is an essential stage in the writing process (White and Arndt, 1991: 17). The objective of brainstorming is to stimulate the imagination to produce ideas on a topic or problem. This is particularly useful for those less imaginative students who do not exercise their creative abilities frequently and thus find it difficult to generate or recall encyclopaedic/ world knowledge and link ideas together. Is it not possible to assert that like many other skills, creativity and imagination must be developed through practice.

Text below is a clear example of the difficulty in generating ideas as the student limited himself to mentioning the items stated in the task assignment. The writer of the text does not provide any additional detailed information or develop the topic further. No motivation to write is present. This text resembles more the act of note taking than it does a final draft as paragraphs have not been structured nor have the ideas been developed appropriately.

Travelling by train on holiday has many advantages, but on the other hand it has many disadvantages.

The cost depends on the train. If we are talking about an executive train, of course is more expensive than an ordinary train.

If the travelling is to long, you can meet nice and kind people. Other advantage are the waiters. They are very polite and sympathetic.

Moreover, trains are, in my opinion, the most comfortable vehicles.

One of the disadvantages are the rest room, sometimes, they are not very clean and the poop are left to the train away, and it's disgusting.

To sum up, trains are very environmental friendly, because they can transport many people only on one time.



White and Arndt (1991: 18) suggest that brainstorming should be unhindered and non-critical to promote productivity and creativity. Brainstorming should be used to identify purpose and audience (if these are not pre-set), to develop the topic and the organization of ideas. One of the reasons why this student is unable to perform to set standards may have been the lack of purpose or audience in his writing. He does not know who he was writing to nor why. If the set task states something similar to: 'the school is planning a trip to Paris. Despite many requests to fly we would prefer to travel by train. Please provide a list of advantages and disadvantages of travelling by train on holiday to present to the student council. ' the task can be facilitated and the writer can compare and contrast the train with other means of transportation. The statement can motivate the writer to ponder more on his/her development of ideas.

Any type of writing done in real life is for a purpose with a reader in mind, thus the interactive nature of written texts is implicit. For this reason any type of writing task should stipulate why the student is writing to fulfill some kind of communicative purpose, whether stimulated or real, and who for, to provide a sense of audience, hence providing a context. Hedge point outs that when the context is explicit, students write more effectively and appropriately (2005: 11). The sense of audience and purpose will influence the writer with his/her choice of content, style/genre and will determine other lower-end choices such as vocabulary and grammatical forms or how information will be 'packaged within a sentence' (Nunan, 1999:272) thus taking a top-down approach to writing. A visual display of how lower order choices determined by higher order one is shown in Figure 2.3 below.

Figure 2. 3 - Top-down Choices

Writer's choice of


• Purpose COf'lt·811t

• Audience 1,8tnJc1ur,s

'. Slyte/ gen.re"


• Qoh:es ien to ~." ----... develop top ic Text

• Le/ils

Dear Syahid,

I live in the centre of a town called Solo. My house is near a fantastic bowling club and I love playing bowling!

Usually, I play bowling in the evening, after school, and in the weekends, with my friends. Sometimes, I also play bowling with my family but, of course, I always win!

I have joined a club too, called "Super Bowling Club". There I can play with many good bowling players and learn many things. Someday, if you want, you can come and play with us! You will see that it's great!

I am waiting for you, Gatot Kaca

If Syahid is a friend then clearly he will know where the writer lives. In

addition to not mentioning the letter that is received in the opening of the letter, the

student is providing information which is shared (common knowledge) and thus

unnecessary. As the student does not take the audience or purpose into consideration,



this influences the structuring of the letter - the paragraph 'I have joined a ... ' should really be in the first or second paragraph. It also influences the choice of vocabulary: this is an infonnalletter between friends, it should 'sound' chatty as if Gatot Kaca is talking to Syahid.

This can be accomplished with discourse markers and fillers such as 'well', 'by the way', 'you know' instead of the 'usually' and 'sometimes' which make the letter sound more like a description of a daily routine exercise. This demonstrates how choices from the top-end affect lower-end consequences.

Another equally important outcome of brainstorming is that it encourages interaction among students and teachers. Communication takes place within the classroom for a real purpose - to solve a problem, gather information, whether the brainstorming is executed with the whole class or in groups. Willis (1990: 59) argues in favor of 'language for real communication' as students present their ideas with no predetermined language, they choose what to say and how to say it - choice is the essence of communication. Thornsbury (1996: 282) also states that communication initiated by students to negotiate meaning promotes learner involvement. It seems to lead to more learning as students are paying attention to and are more responsible for the activity, transforming the activity into a student-centered task which according to White and Arndt (1991: 20), promotes a cooperative approach to learning.

A simple method to prompt the process of brainstorming, to be used individually or in group, is the use of simple questions such as 'Who' 'What' 'Where' 'When' 'Why' and 'How' along with other more complex ones. The use of

a "Why?" and "How?" can prompt more detailed information for "In the city we


have so many opportunities to study, to work, to have a better and maybe brilliant

future. "

b. Focusing, Structuring, and Writing the First Draft

After the initial stage of brainstorm ing, students gather their ideas and

subsequently select and outline them to write the first draft. As a follow-up of

brainstorming, White and Arndt (1991: 35) and Hedge (2005: 66) suggest the

technique of fast-writing (free-writing) and loop writing. The purpose of free-writing

is to write without any inhibition concentrating more on content rather than on form.

With loop writing the student writes about one idea, and then summarizes that stretch

of text in one sentence. This sentence then leads to another loop. This technique

could help students avoid vague statements, the repetition of ideas and help to

produce natural flowing text. An example is given below

More specia~ schools to choose from

~ more jobs alld chalices to climb career ladder ~ More chances of having a brilliant future

Concentration must be paid to the global organization of the text depending

on the purpose, as information must unfold in a structured form in order to achieve

coherence. Students must be made aware of this. A good idea to help those who have

problems organizing their thoughts is to make a visual plan for the text. Most of the

problems due to structuring can be avoided during a drafting stage with explicit

reference to patterns of discourse organization in class and adequate feedback from


classmates. The prior choice of a discourse pattern might have also influenced the choice of vocabulary items, as particular words have a tendency to occur with particular text-patterns (top-down choices) (McCarthy, 1991: 82).

Possible structures may include:

Problem - solution General - specific Claim - counterclaim Question - answer Cause and effect Chronological order

The text is usually divided into introduction, body paragraph(s) and conclusion. In addition to being aware of the possible text structures, students should be aware that effective paragraphs contain good topic sentences which introduce what the topic is about as well as the purpose of the paragraph, and these should be written in such a way as to attract the reader's attention. These are then followed by supporting sentences which develop the topic.

c. Revising and Redrafting/ Editing

Revising is part of the writing process which entails assessing what has already been written and is an important source of learning (Hedge, 2005: 122). Sommers (1982: 154 in Zamel, 1985: 96) states:


"We need to sabotage our students' conviction that the drafts they have written are completed and coherent. Our comments need to offer students revision tasks ... by forcing students back into chaos, back to the point where they are shaping and restructuring their meaning. "

This is one of the most crucial and beneficial stages in the writing process,

when the most meaningful learning will take place that will aid students in future

writing as they will have the opportunity to receive feedback while the experience is

still 'fresh in the mind' (Hedge, 2005: 121). In general, students receive feedback

from teachers the day after the writing task has been completed, mistakes are

highlighted and corrected, and suggestions for improvement are provided. In certain

occasions, students may be 'spoon-fed' and this may account for why there is no real

improvement in subsequent drafts or writing tasks. The teacher has done all the

work; consequently learners do not mentally correct their mistakes as meaningful

learning may not have taken place.

Once again there is an opportunity to transform this task into a student-

centered activity thus promoting real communication amongst students. Students

may work in pairs or groups and correct, provide feedback on each other's text. This

collaborative work generates discussion and activities which may increase students'

awareness of problems they may have in their own writing when they have to clarify

ideas or expressions used in the text (Hedge, 2005: 122). By providing students with

the opportunity to correct and provide feedback on their classmates' texts, they are

learning by doing and as Hedge points out (2005: 18), 'accuracy work which is

comparatively spontaneous' is 'certainly more meaningful and motivating'. Through

peer-correcting, there is also less of a chance of the teacher misinterpreting and


dictating students' intentions by correcting with what the teacher thinks is best and which may not necessarily be what the student originally intended.

During the peer-correcting stage teachers have the opportunity to work face to face with individual students, as everyone is busy doing something. This is an excellent opportunity for teachers to take on the role of 'facilitator', to provide guidance in the thinking process without imposing their own thoughts and beliefs on student's writing (Brown, 2001: 340) and an opportunity to diagnose and address specific problem areas.

This revising not only addresses such features as form, discourse organization, paragraph structure, and cohesive devices but encourages students to be more than just mere language learners but rather developing writers (Zamel, 1985:


It is an excellent opportunity for learners to acquire less frequent core vocabulary, which is needed if one takes into consideration that written texts have more lexical density than that of an oral text. Teachers may address such issues as collocations, raise student awareness of the feasible partnership between words and thus help them to make better use of the language they already know and build on it. In addition to collocations, there are idioms, fixed and institutionalized expression and synonyms for the interchangeable use of words used to enrich the development of ideas, raise awareness on the syntagmatic and paradigmatic relationship between words, the referential, metaphorical and connotational meaning of words and how the choice of words and structures may influence the message, and how to incorporate stylistic resources - a long list of teaching resources which goes beyond


the scop e of this paper. Linguistic resources which in other teaching situations may

not have such a meaningful opportunity to be taught as students will be learning 'by


To attain a good balance between all the components involved, the amount of

planning and revising varies according to the kind of writing that is required. Thus a

holidaypostcard may be written spontaneously, while the process of writing a letter

of comp laint to a service provider will resemble figure 3.4. It includes all the

interactive stages of process writing. Thus this process may be shorter or much

longer depending on the purpose and the audience of the text.

Figure 2.4 - Interactive Stages of Process Writing

gettiag ideas .ot together

d. Quality in Writing

All these issues are quite uncomp licated matters, but nonetheless crucial

features in effective writing which must be taught and will require plenty of time and

practice to develop. Hedge (2005: 119) divides the quality of writing into tw 0

different groups: 'authoring' made up of skills involved in the process of writing and

'crafting' - skills involved in the appropriate and accurate choice of language .

Figure 2.5 lists the different components included in each group.


Q0a6ty Writing

Fi gure 2.5 - Quality Writing (Hedge, 2005: 119)

~Content -------... Length

2. Being aware of the reader (a sense ofaudience--------- ... Style

3. Developing the ideas (a sense of direction) Crafting

4. Organising the content clearly and in a logical manner

5. Manipulating the script


1. Having something to say (a sense of purpose)

6. Using the conventions, e.g, spelling, layout

7. Getting the grammar right

8. Developing sentence structure

9. Linking ideas in a variety of way 9. Having a range of vocabulary



~ Accuracy

~ .. complexity



It is interesting to note that criteri a set by examination councils to grade

wri tten papers are very similar in that they mark for content, organization, cohesion,

register, format and target reader (Cambridge ESOL). Thus, if students learn to

develop their skills and writing through process writing, then product writing will

improve as well.

No one ever learned how to swim by being thrown into the deep end, just as

no one will ever learn how to write simply by being told to write. Writers need to

write a lot to become good writers and they need the opportunity to practice various

typ es and functions 0 f writing to develop skills and build comp ctcncc and confi dence

and progress toward autonomy. The various stages implied in process writing will

encourage students to exploit the language resources they possess and build on them

as they know they will not be judged or critiqued right away but will have an

opportunity to revi se, improve and correct before being evaluated. It is through time


and practice and through well planned stages that we may change students' negative views and attitudes towards writing. To sum up, the result of process writing activities in the classroom is more than just the mere written text. Through integrated teaching, learners' language competence is comprehensively fostered from different sides so as to develop both receptive and productive skills resulting in an overall improvement of students' language competence.

6. Students' Difficulties in English Writing

When discussing the difficulties students have writing III English, it is important to first determine what the student is attempting to communicate to their reader. A teacher can then decide which strategies to adopt to help the student improve their writing skills to achieve their goal. These strategies can take many forms but a 'communicative approach' to language learning, according to McDonough and Shaw (1993: 181-182), would involve an extension of the size of language stretches that can be dealt with from sentence to discourse level and "require learners to understand the overall purpose of a piece of writing, not just the immediate sentence-bound grammatical context." They state that considerations of both 'cohesion' and 'discourse coherence' make up some of the criteria used when evaluating a piece of writing as communicative or not, and that sentence-level critiquing and grammar practice is not omitted but is "set in the context of a longer and purposeful stretch of language."

Writing, then, they suggest, IS seen as primarily message-oriented, so a communicative VIew of language is a necessary foundation. Difficulties students


appear to have writing ill English and strategies to help them overcome these

difficulties will be discussed within this communicative context.

a. Some Issues on the Teaching of Writing

1) Process versus Product

The process versus product discussion cited by Brown (2001: 320) and others

is one area where fundamental differences on what the objectives of a writing task

should be are illustrated. Are student writing compositions supposed to meet certain

standards of prescribed English rhetorical style, grammar, and audience

expectations? Or, conversely, should writing be seen more as a 'process' where

learners are "allowed to focus on content and message" and where "their own

individual intrinsic motives" become the focus of their learning rather than the

mastery of certain structures or models? Nunan (1991: 87) comments that in the

process approach the focus is on:

"quantity rather than quality, and beginning writers are encouraged to get their ideas on paper in any shape or form without worrying too much about formal correctness. The approach also encourages collaborative group work between learners ... and more controversially, attention to grammar is played down."

Elbow (1973: 14-16) cited by Brown (2001: 336-337) attempts to highlight

the different approaches in the process versus product debate. He states, "Instead of

focusing on the written 'product', we should think of writing as an "organic,

developmental process in which you start writing at the very beginning - before you

know your meaning at all -and encourage your words to gradually change and


evolve." However, as Brown (2001: 337) admits, the real emphasis of process writing must be seen as "a balance between process and product" since "product is, after all, the ultimate goal." Swan (1997: 81) too, makes the point that we should teach 'use' as well as 'meaning' and not neglect the structural elements (for instance, lexis) through which meaning is ultimately conveyed.

2) First Language Interference

Another issue related to the teaching of writing is the consideration of to what extent a student's first language may interfere with their writing in a second. Brown (2001: 323) recommends that teachers adopt a "weak" position when attending to first language interference. He suggests that student's "cultural/literary schemata" should be thought of as "one possible source of difficulty." He adds that recent studies in 'contrastive rhetoric' have shown the significance of "valuing student's native-language-related rhetorical traditions" and of leading them through a "process of understanding those schemata, but not attempting to eradicate them." He considers this self-understanding on the part of the students may "lend itself to a more effective appreciation and use of English rhetorical conventions." Nunan (1991: 144) also outlines the different elements of the contrastive hypothesis where 'negative transfer' and 'positive transfer' refer to the interference the first language may have on the second, but states that attempts to prove definitively this relationship have yet to be made.


3) Audience

A third factor when discussing writing in the classroom is the notion of the writer's 'audience.' Callow and John (1992: 8-12) states that a communicator must be constantly aware of the addressee as they attempt to convey their message. The need to be understood "prompts the communicator to be aware of the addressee's initial state of know ledge," and their "continued comprehension." It is these factors,

for Callow and John (1998: 12), which produce the true orientational elements in a written composition. Byrne (1988: 183) is one of several authors on writing skills who stresses that: "writing is a process of encoding (putting your message into words) carried out with the reader in mind." The overall organization of a piece of writing is "best considered in relation to audience and purpose," while stylistic choices "depend on why and for whom we are writing."

h. Discussing the Difficulties

1) Assessment Criteria

McDonough and Shaw (1993: 190) suggest that when assessing students' writing we need to take into account the "appropriacy of the writing to its purpose and its intended audience as well as topic and content criteria." Brown (2001: 244- 245) talks of six general categories often used as the basis for evaluating student

writing: content, organization, discourse, syntax, vocabulary, and mechanics. Brown's list above - where the order emphasizes the importance of content,


organization, and discourse over syntax, vocabulary, and mechanics - will serve as a useful framework for assessment criteria.

Another important overall consideration involves the degree to which the student writing succeeded or failed to effectively convey its message to the reader. Bozek (1991: 29) states that difficulties of this sort arise when writers misperceive their readers and assume that they will: "read every word of the document and will know what action to take as a result of the information presented in the document." With these assumptions, he says, writers often produce documents which are too long, do not clearly specify action requests, or must be read in their entirety for readers to find key points.

2) Content

The term 'content' for Brown (2001: 244) includes how effectively a writer relates ideas in their writing and develops those ideas through personal experience, illustration, facts and opinions. Use of description and consistent focus in the writing is also important.

It is apparent that lack of content negatively affects the writer's ability to convey their message.

3) Organization

The term 'organization' for Brown (2001: 244) includes such things as effective introductions, logical sequence of ideas, and appropriate length.


4) Discourse

F or Brown (2001: 244), 'discourse' refers to such things as the student's effective use of topic sentences, paragraph unity, transitions, cohesion, and rhetorical conventions.

5) SyntaxN ocabulary/Mechanics

Syntax, vocabulary, and mechanics were all sources of writing difficulty for the students. Even short sections of writing had a tendency to demonstrate a combination of such difficulties. Richards and Schmidt (2002: 535) define that 'syntax' is concerned with the ways in which words combine to form sentences and the rules which govern the formation of sentences, making some sentences possible and others not possible within a particular language.

'Vocabulary' is defined as a set of lexical items, "including single words, compound words, and idioms" (Richards and Schmidt, 2002: 580).

Spelling and punctuation are the most prominent of the mechanical difficulties in the student writing. Most are minor, but others occasionally lead to a breakdown in fluency, or even meaning, for the reader.

c. Suggesting Strategies

1) Higher/Lower Order Concerns

Keh (1990: 297-302) distinguishes between difficulties in student writing as either surface mechanical errors (lower order concerns, or LOC), or issues related to


the development of ideas, organization, and overall focus (higher order concerns, or HOC). Keh promotes the notion of focusing on HOCs and states that: "the rationale here is that LOCs may disappear in a later draft as the writer changes content." She states, for example, that students may eliminate paragraphs or rewrite sentences where surface problems existed.

2) Conferencing

One suggested strategy for helping students experiencing writing difficulties of the HOC kind is to involve the students directly in the evaluation process. The writing samples under discussion can be displayed by overhead projector or distributed as copies throughout the class. Students can ask questions about the sample including: Are the author's points clear? Do they give enough examples to support their views? Do they provide a good conclusion? This is what Keh refers to as an example of peer/group feedback and is included in a larger category known as 'conferences.' Nunan (1991: 87) also comments on the classroom technique of 'conferencing' and its emergence from the process approach to writing. He states: ''the aim of conferencing is to encourage young writers to talk about their initial drafts with the teacher or with fellow students." He adds that the technique draws on principles of discovery learning and links reading with the writing process.

3) Planning

Another suggested strategy is careful planning of the assigned writing task.

Bozek (1991: 55) states that effective subject lines and headings are one way writers


can help their readers obtain the pertinent information they need from a document.

Readers can "scan for the main ideas of a written composition and pick and choose

the sections of the document that most interest them and set their own reading

priorities." He adds that proficiency in these skills on the part of the writer allows for

multiple-reader flexibility and can appeal to readers with different levels of subject

matter expertise.

Richards and Lockhart (1996: 65) suggest that there is a difference III

strategies used by skilled and unskilled writers and that skilled ones tend to:

"spend time thinking about the task and planning how they will approach it; they gather and organize information; and they use note taking, lists, and brainstorming to help generate ideas. On the other hand, unskilled writers tend to spend little on planning; they may start off confused about the task; and they use few planning and organizing strategies."

In addition, sequencing strategies such as pre-writing, drafting and revising

are generally acknowledged as assisting students in generating new ideas and plans

for their writing.

4) Pair Work

A further suggested strategy for helping students with their writing is the

inclusion of pair work in the curriculum. Students are required to comment on what

they consider difficulties in their partner's written composition. This can be through

employing their own schematic knowledge of written English, or by utilizing a

similar list of criteria as mentioned above (for peer/ group feedback). Richards and

Lockhart (1996: 152-65) suggest that students interacting in groups or pairs are given

"the opportunity to draw on their linguistic resources in a nonthreatening situation


and use them to complete different tasks." For example, in a writing class: students may work in pairs to read each others assignments and provide suggestions for improvement. This feedback may address content, organization, or clarity of expression, and serves to provide information that may be useful to the student when revising the piece of writing.

Chaudron (1988: 134) comments as well on the nature of feedback and how it can affect student attitudes to learning: " ... the function of feedback is not only to provide reinforcement, but to provide information which learners can use actively in modifying their behaviors." He later goes on to state that: "information available in feedback allows learners to confirm, disconfirm and possibly modify the hypothetical, "transitional" rules of their developing grammars" but that these things depend on the writer's willingness to accept feedback given to them.

d. Discussing Potential Beneficial 'Side-Effects'

1) Overall Targets

Writing exercises must be aimed at skill building and more complex communication as the overall targets. Faster student writing speed, increased length and difficulty level of sentences, and heightened confidence in their writing abilities are some of the potential benefits of such exercises. Providing as many opportunities as possible to actually use the phrases and patterns introduced in the model writing is one way of helping students acquire the target language. Listening to peer comments


regarding their writing, defending their work, or providing feedback themselves to other students in the class, all serve to further exposure and enhance acquisition.

2) Tasks

Topic and concluding sentence tasks challenge students to construct a sentence or passage based on the surrounding language context. The inference skills and schematic knowledge required to complete such an exercise is potentially applied to similar writing situations of their own (e.g. business correspondence, etc.). Benefits to overall skill building include decision-making regarding the appropriacy of certain language. Potentially, students can utilize such decision-making skills - and whatever new vocabulary they have acquired - when revising and redrafting their own work. Awareness of language appropriacy and certain rhetorical devices are heightened by such tasks as students work to construct the most effective and communicative (and thereby, grammatical) writing possible.

3) Pair W orkJPeer Correction

In addition to employing the skill building techniques of reading, listening and speaking, pair work and peer correction both allow learners the opportunity to bring whatever schematic knowledge they have to the writing task at hand. Pairs or small groups of students can assist each other when evaluating one another's writing. A written composition read aloud can be checked by both the writer and others for appropriate syntax, cadence, stress, and logical sequencing, among other things. As a consequence, pair work and peer correction can facilitate a range of other skills.


Reading, listening and speaking skills are all utilized and therefore have the potential

to improve along with the writing skills being practiced.

4) Rewrite/Redrafts

Having a student rewrite or redraft their written document challenges them to

reassess what they are trying to achieve. Incorporating whatever suggestions others

(teacher, pair work partner, etc.) make exposes them to a high occurrence of recycled

language and this sort of repetition is thought to aid acquisition. Nunan (1991: 52)

states that such activities, especially when done as pairs, allow students to gain

insight into their own approach to learning:

"A teacher who ... talks about, analyses, compares, contrasts and reflects on written texts, whether they be published texts or the students' own writing, not only promotes an interest in written texts, but provides the students with a language that enables them to reflect on and analyze written texts themselves. It enables the students to ... develop an insight into what makes one text successful and another unsuccessful." (Hammond, 1989: 19).

The suggested strategies are aimed at incorporating as much reading,

speaking and listening activities as possible into their design. So, not only are the

students developing and improving writing skills they need to complete their job-

related tasks, but they are furthering their overall communicative skills in the

language as they attempt to master the complexities of English grammar, syntax and,

generally, how to convey meaning through written form.

What evolved from the above discussion is the notion that a teacher should

consider elements of both 'process' and 'product' in any discussion involving

strategies to assist students in improving their writing skills. Without knowledge of


writing techniques such as sequencing or repetition structures (important conveyers of meaning) a student's ability to effectively communicate what they want in the target language is drastically reduced. As the suggested strategies outlined above illustrate, there are a number of ways that a teacher can make their teaching of writing communicative while still moving learners towards a desire for accuracy.

B. The Review of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning

The same thinking about purpose, pedagogy and assessment lies behind paper-based portfolio learning and electronic-based one. With this in mind, the discussion will begin with paper-based portfolios learning: the different types of portfolio, their uses, their benefits, problems, issues and tensions that arise relating to their use, and the essential elements that need to be present in their design to ensure their success as learning, development and assessment tools. This section also covers their uses in a variety of disciplines. Following this, electronic-based portfolios will be discussed in depth: how they differ from traditional portfolios, their benefits, and issues relating to their use. In adopting electronic-based portfolios as a medium for student learning, certain criteria ensure success and several barriers to implementation exist. In addition, several educational and technical considerations are inherent when adopting an electronic-based portfolio system.


1. The Nature of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning

A simple search of the Internet done by the writer using the key words

"language portfolios" and "portfolio assessment" shows how popular these concepts

are in educational circles: the former produced about 150,000 mostly European-

based hits and the latter about 250,000 mostly US-based hits. Many of these articles

naturally link portfolios with personal skills like reflection.

The concept of portfolio has long existed in many fields outside the

classroom. For example, artists, architects, and photographers use portfolios to

illustrate their work to potential clients; financial advisers speak of a client's

investment portfolios (Barrett, 2006: 1). In education, however, portfolios are a

relatively new phenomenon and their full potential needs to be explored.

In reviewing the literature, different definitions of portfolios are provided.

The National Education Association (1993: 41) defines a portfolio as "a record of

learning that focuses on the students' work and her/ his reflection on that work.

Material is collected through a collaborative effort between the student and staff

members and is indicative of progress toward the essential outcomes."

A commonly accepted definition of a portfolio is provided by educators in the

Pacific Northwest who form the Northwest Evaluation Association (Paulson,

Paulson, and Meyer, 1990: 60):

"A portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress and achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include student participation in selecting contents; the criteria for selection; the criteria for judging merit; and evidence of student selfreflection. "


According to Herman and Stephen (undated: 137), it is a process that can serve a variety of purposes. It is stated by Richards and Schmidt (2002: 406) that portfolio is a purposeful collection of work that provides information about someone's efforts, progress or achievement in a given area. They further assert, "It is a learning as well as assessment tool." Stiggins (1994: 87) also adds that a portfolio is "a means of communicating about student growth and development" and "not a form of assessment".

According to Barrett (2000: 110), a learning portfolio normally contains work that a learner has collected and selected to show growth and change overtime. A critical component of a learning portfolio is the learner's reflection on the individual piece of work (often called an artifact) as well as an overall reflection on the story that the portfolio should tell. The learner's reflections provide the rationale that specific artifacts are evidence of achieving the stated standards or goals.

In the context of the teaching of writing, a portfolio can be defined as "a collection of texts the writer has produced over a defined period of time" (HampLyons, 1991: 262) and the collection may consist of "selected but not necessarily polished or finished pieces" (Privette, 1993: 60).

Based on the definitions above and the teaching of English writing as the topic in this research, it can be concluded that portfolio is a purposeful learning record of students' works collected through a collaborative effort between the students and the teachers as a reflection of the student's efforts, progress and achievements in English writing competence.


The next term modified by the term 'portfolio-based' is learning. It is stressed by Hohn (2005: 283) that dictionaries typically define learning as the act of acquiring knowledge and skills through observation, study, or instruction. Mazur (2008) states that learning is acquiring knowledge or developing the ability to perform new behaviors. He further underlines, "It is common to think of learning as something that takes place in school, but much of human learning occurs outside the classroom, and people continue to learn throughout their lives."

According to Wildman (2008: 573 - 579), based on the framework that looks at learning in terms of observable behavior learning is defined as any relatively permanent change in behavior that is not the result of normal growth or maturation. On the basis of the second framework that views learning as a cognitive activity, learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge and the ability to use knowledge to solve problems. Lastly, in the point of view on how people work and learn in cultural settings, learning is defined not as the acquisition of knowledge but as participation in meaningful social practices.

As can be concluded from the above definitions, learning is the process by which change in behavior, knowledge, skills, etc., comes about through practice, instruction or experience and the result of such a process.

As a term, portfolio-based learning applied in this research is a concept that VIews portfolio as an educational concept, while a more popular term, portfolio assessment, looks at portfolio as a concept of assessment (Dasim Budimansyah, 2003: 7). The noun phrase of portfolio-based learning is also stated by Pitts (2009) in his article entitled "How to Understand Portfolio-based Learning" and van Wesel


and Prop (2008: 1) in their paper by saying that portfolio-based learning finds

increasing implementation in a variety of educational and professional learning

contexts. Similarly, it is pointed out that:

"Also complicating research and literature regarding portfolios in education is the fact that there are many purposes for portfolios in education: there are portfolios that center around learning, assessment, emp loyment, marketing, and showcasing best work. With so many purposes for developing portfolios, it becomes clear that the term "portfolio" should always have a modifier or adjective that describes its purpose."

Thus, portfolio-based learning in this research can be defined as the process

of change in English writing competence as a result of the teaching of English

writing based on purposeful record of students' works collected through a

collaborative effort between the students and the teachers as a reflection of the

student's efforts, progress and achievements.

The traditional storage format for portfolios ill education is paper-based,

usually in manila folders, three-ring notebooks or larger containers. Most often, the

artifacts are comprised of text and images on paper, although the use of video or

audio tape has been emerging (Barret: 2001). To conclude with, paper-based

portfolio learning as the title of this research can be concluded as the process of

change in English writing competence as a result of the teaching of English writing

based on purposeful printed/ handwritten record of students' works collected through

a collaborative effort between the students and the teachers as a reflection of the

students's efforts, progress and achievements.

The topic of the next section is on the bedrock of portfolio-based learning and

the answers for a question of "what is it the paper-based portfolio learning for?"


2. Constructivist Learning

As stated before, portfolios are derived from constructivist perspectives.

Constructivist learning has emerged as a prominent approach to teaching during this past decade. Constructivism represents a paradigm shift from education based on behaviorism to education based on cognitive theory. It is stated by Prawat (2008: 182) that constructivism is a learning theory based on the notion that students actively construct knowledge. While behaviorist epistemology focuses on intelligence, domains of objectives, levels of knowledge, and reinforcement, constructivist epistemology assumes that learners construct their own knowledge on the basis of interaction with their environment.

As portfolios are based on constructivist philosophy, Klenowski, Askew, and Carnell (2006: 278) give a definition of constructivism that is useful for those thinking of implementing portfolio assessment: "knowledge is constructed through activities such as participatory learning, open-ended questioning, discussion and investigation. Facilitation helps learners construct their own schema for internalizing information and organizing it so that it becomes their own".

There are two major strands of the constructivist perspective: cognitive constructivism and social constructivism. Cognitive constructivism is based on the work of Piaget. His theory emphasizes the need for students to have a rich environment for exploration, thus giving students opportunities to assimilate and accommodate new knowledge (Gutek: 2008). Social constructivism is based on the work of Vygotsky whose theory of learning emphasizes the importance of the social and cultural context for learning (Thompson: 2008). He claims that it is the


collaboration between people that causes learning to occur, not just a rich, interesting environment. Although these two strands are different in emphasis, they share many common perspectives about teaching and learning. In many cases the strengths of one theorist complement the weakness of the other.

Developing a portfolio is an individual activity. It is the students themselves who decide the goals and contents of their portfolios, artifacts they will use to document their learning, and the formats they will use to develop and present their portfolios. However, both peers and teachers play a very important role in this process because teachers should be ready to support and provide advice to their students, and students will learn most from their peers especially from those who had the same experience. It can be hard for students to finish their projects without the collaboration with their classmates. Therefore, this study will combine the ideas of Piaget with those of Vygotsky and use the general term, constructivism, as the theoretical framework.

According to constructivism, learning is an active process and should be whole, authentic, and real. Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests that learners cannot be "given" information which they immediately understand and use. Instead, they must "construct" their own knowledge. They learn by fitting new information together with what they already know. Learners learn best when they actively construct their own understanding. Learning is also affected by the context, the beliefs and attitudes of the learner. Vygotsky's 1978 zone of proximal development is the idea that human learning presupposes a specific social nature and is part of a process by which children grow into the intellectual life of those around


them. Learners are encouraged to invent their own solutions and to tryout ideas and hypotheses (Daniels: 2001: 56). They build their know ledge through experience.

Creating portfolios helps students to continue their learning as a Dewey's famous quotation goes, "The educational process has no end beyond itself; it is its own end" (Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009). Learning, for Dewey, has different angles. In one sense, learning is a kind of activity which includes experiencing, trying, doing, acting, observing, playing, communicating, working, making, and studying. In another sense, learning is a mental process involving thinking, using intelligence, making judgments, and looking for meanings, connections and possibilities. In other words, in the process of learning, one needs to use the mind to organize activities, and intelligence to direct them. In addition, a learning activity is not an activity that occurs just in the mind, although it involves the mind; it occurs in a social medium through social interaction, especially in "the very process of living together".

Dewey emphasized that learning is a social activity and should take place in a social medium. For Dewey, social participation is a way of exchanging and expanding experiences. Through this activity one increases one's social interest, skills, understanding, and virtue which, in tum, help further learning.

According to Prawat (2008: 183), Dewey favors "the guide on the side" approach. The assumption here is that a student can create meaning only by working in his or her own experiential workspace, the 4 or 5 inches of brain between the ears. The role of the teacher is to quietly nudge the process along, to point out in a gentle way any problems the student may be encountering in figuring out how to construe a new experience, to bring to the fore the most important aspects of that experience,


and so forth. The type of pedagogy that best fits this view of learning is portfoliobased learning.

Dewey believes that learning reqUIres some outside guidance from "the guide on the side" such as teachers, parents, or social institutions. For Dewey, since not all experiences are educative, in order to help children to have educative experiences, guidance from the teacher is still necessary. Dewey also advocated that learning should meet students' needs. He suggested child-centered learning and using the child's impulses, needs and experiences as the starting point of learning.

Piaget developed Dewey's idea in creating a meaningful learning environment for students. According to Piaget, in a constructivist classroom, students must be given opportunities to construct knowledge through their own experiences. Less emphasis is put on directly teaching specific skills and more is put on learning in a meaningful context.

Exploring interesting things within a classroom encourages students to become active constructors of their own knowledge through experiences that encourage assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation occurs when students try to compare old information to new information they come across to see if new information fits with older information already learned. Accommodation occurs when students take the new information and then either save it in their mind since it is similar to older information or try to discard the information if it does not fit with the existing information or develop new categories to accommodate the new information. Creating portfolios offers a vast array of such opportunities. In this


learning environment, students' conceptual and experiential background can be


In addition, Pitts (2009: 1) points out:

"Educational programs most likely to be effective include interactivity, reflection and relate to personal professional experiences. Through this, learners are given more autonomy and responsibility for their learning. Portfolios are an ideal vehicle for capturing such learning experiences through the recording of reflective purposes and can contain a wide range of materials and media. "

First referred to by Dewey in 1933, and achieving expansion in the 1980s

with authors such as Schon, reflective practice has been defined as: the process of

internally examining and exploring an issue of concern, triggered by an experience,

which creates and clarifies meaning in terms of self, and which results in a changed

concept perspective (Pitts, 2009: 1). In constructivist learning theory, practical

experience is at the centre of professional learning, and it is has been suggested that

educational programs should include reflective processes based on personal

experiences. The greatest strength attributed to the portfolio approach is individuality

as stated by D'Angelo, Touchman, and Clark (2009: 263) that Radical

constructivism proposes that the construction of knowledge takes place solely in the

leamer's mind and on an individual level.

Based on the discussion above, that paper-based portfolio learning in the

teaching of writing is based on the learning theory of constructivism can be

concluded from the fact as follows:

1. It matches assessment to teaching. The products that are assessed are mainly

products of class work, and are not divorced from class activities like test items.


2. It has clear goals. They are decided on at the beginning of instruction and are clear to teacher and students alike.

3. It gives a profile of learner abilities. The abilities can be viewed from three perspectives: depth, breadth, and growth. In terms of depth, it enables students to show quality work, which is done without pressure and time constraints, and with the help of resources, reference materials and collaboration with others. In the aspect of breadth, by portfolio-based learning a wide range of skills can be demonstrated. Finally, in the perspective of growth, it shows efforts to improve and develop, and demonstrates progress over time.

4. It is a tool for assessing a variety of skills. Written as well as oral and graphic products can easily be included.

5. It develops awareness of own learning. Students have to reflect on their own progress and the quality of their work in relation to known goals.

6. It caters to individuals in the heterogeneous class. Since it IS open-ended, students can show work on their own level. Since there is choice, it caters to different learning styles and allows expression of different strengths.

7. It develops social skills. Students are also assessed on work done together, m pairs or groups, on projects and assignments.

8. It develops independent and active learners. Students must select and justify portfolio choices; monitor progress and set learning goals.

9. It can improve motivation for learning and thus achievement. Empowerment of students to prove achievement has been found to be motivating.


10. It is an efficient tool for demonstrating learning. Different kinds of products and records of progress fit conveniently into one package; changes over time are clearly shown.

11. It provides opportunity for student-teacher dialogue. Enables the teacher to get to know each and every student. Promotes joint goal-setting and negotiation of grades.

3. Characteristics of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning

In relation to the platform of portfolio as a learning tool Richards and Schmidt (2002: 406-407) list some characteristics of portfolio as applied in language learners. They are:

1. the learner is involved in deciding what to include in the portfolio;

2. the learner may revise material in the portfolio after feedback from the teacher or others;

3. the learner is required to assess or reflect on the work in the portfolio thus becoming aware of personal development;

4. there is evidence of mastery of knowledge;

5. it may include various forms of work, such as written work, audio recording, video recording, etc.

McAlpine (2006) also proposes some characteristics of portfolio as follows:

1. accentuate the positive, and generally include samples of "best performance"

2. show systematic evidence of student achievement

3. reflect a sample of student work over time


4. include a rich variety of style and content, and

5. encourage higher levels of reflective practice and self assessment.

Another list of portfolio's characteristics is postulated by Kemp and Toperoff (1998: 1). They are:

1. A portfolio is a form of assessment that students do together with their teachers.

2. A portfolio is not just a collection of student work, but a selection - the student must be involved in choosing and justifying the pieces to be included.

3. A portfolio provides samples of the student's work which show growth over time. By reflecting on their own learning (self-assessment), students begin to identify the strengths and weaknesses in their work. These weaknesses then become improvement goals.

4. The criteria for selecting and assessing the portfolio contents must be clear to the teacher and the students at the outset of the process.

5. The entries in an EFL portfolio can demonstrate learning and growth in all language domains/skills, or can focus on a specific skill such as appreciation of literature, or writing.

Similarly, Yance (1992) as cited by Park (undated: 1-2) states that all portfolios, regardless of the particular context, share three essential characteristics. Firstly, they are longitudinal in nature. That is, in a portfolio classroom, the teacher sets out quite explicitly to create the time necessary for writers to develop. In practice, what this means is that the piece initiated on Monday need not be submitted a week or two later for a final evaluation. Instead, it can be reshaped and revised in light of what is learned days or weeks or even a month or two later. Secondly,


portfolios are diverse in content. That is, as a system, the portfolio is open rather than closed and its contents are intended to be diverse and inclusive. Thirdly, portfolios are almost always collaborative in ownership. In other words, portfolios are created collaboratively by the student as author, working with the teacher and other students as partners, who respond to and advise the writer, helping to evaluate and rework and select pieces to be submitted for the institutional assessment that fully determines the grade.

After doing analytical reading, to emphasize the fundamentally developmental character of a valid portfolio system, the writer set forth the following principles and features:

1. A portfolio is a printed/ handwritten collection of work, but it is a collection that is a subset of a larger archive. Theoretically, the archive is the whole of a student's work, but more practically and more frequently, it is a subset of writing completed

in a class, a program, and a school.

2. The process by which the subset is created is one of selection, which is the second principle of portfolios. How entries are selected varies according to the rhetorical situation contextualizing the portfolio.

3. A third principle is reflection, the process by which a student explains his or her learning.

4. A fourth principle is communication, in the sense that the writing portfolio, like any portfolio, will communicate something about the writer, about what he or she values, about the context in which the writer has worked, and so on.


Based on the characteristics above, it is necessary to indicate essential elements of the paper-based portfolio. Kemp and Toperoff (1998: 3) identify such

elements as:

l. Cover Letter "About the author" and "What my portfolio shows about my progress as a learner" (written at the end, but put at the beginning).

The cover letter summarizes the evidence of a student's learning and progress.

2. Table of Contents with numbered pages.

3. Entries - both core (items students have to include) and optional (items of student's choice).

The core elements will be required for each student and will provide a common base from which to make decisions on assessment. The optional items will allow the folder to represent the uniqueness of each student. Students can choose to include "best" pieces of work, but also a piece of work which gave trouble or one that was less successful, and give reasons why.

4. Dates on all entries, to facilitate proof of growth over time.

S. Drafts of aural/oral and written products and revised versions; i.e., first drafts and

corrected/revised versions.

6. Reflections can appear at different stages in the learning process (for formative and/or summative purposes.) and can be written in the mother tongue at the lower levels or by students who find it difficult to express themselves in English.

a. For each item - a brief rationale for choosing the item should be included. This can relate to students' performance, to their feelings regarding their progress


and/or themselves as learners. Students can choose to reflect upon some or all of the following:

What did I learn from it? What did I do well?

Why (based on the agreed teacher-student assessment criteria) did I choose this item?

What do I want to improve in the item? How do I feel about my performance? What were the problem areas?

b. For the whole portfolio (the cover letter - see above).

4. Types of Paper-Based Portfolios

In writing class, paper-based portfolio includes:

1. Showcase portfolios that highlight the best products over a particular time period or course such as the best examples of different writing genres (an essay, a poem, a short story, a biographical piece, or a literary analysis;

2. Process portfolios that concentrate on such journey of learning as different stages of the process an outline, first draft, peer and teacher responses, early revisions, and a final edited draft; and

3. Evaluation portfolios that exhibit a series of evaluations over a course and the learning or accomplishments of the student in regard to previously determined criteria or goals such as documents tests, observations, records, or other


assessment artifacts required for successful completion of the course (Fernsten,

2009: 694).

Two types of portfolios are required for this research: process portfolios and showcase portfolios, the former to be maintained by students and the latter by the reseracher. A process portfolio has also been referred to as a "working portfolio" as "it serves as a holding tank for work that may be selected later for a more permanent assessment or display portfolio" and it is differentiated from a work folder as it "is an intentional collection of work guided by learning objectives". Showcase portfolios (or display or best work portfolios), refer to portfolios meant for exhibiting students' best work. The process portfolio in the writing course thus functions as a "working" Portfolio comprising everything from brainstorming activities to drafts of finished products while the showcase portfolio functions as a record of the specific assignments set for the successful completion of the research.

5. Implementation of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning

a. Implementation Stages

The following is the Guidelines for Paper-based Portfolio Learning ill Teaching English adapted from Kemp and Toperoff's (1998: 4 -7).

1. Identifying learning goals to learn through the portfolio

The very first and most important part of organizing portfolio-based learning is to decide on the learning goals. These goals will guide the selection and assessment of students' work for the portfolio. To do this, the teachers of English must ask


themselves "What do I want the students to learn?" and choose several goals to focus on; for example, general goals such as improvement in writing competence, and specific goals such as writing a procedure text. This stage is so important because teachers have to know what their goals are in terms of what the students will be able to do. Moreover, students have to know what they need to show evidence of in their portfolios.

It is even better if they do this fixing of goals together with the students, asking them, for example, what they need and want to achieve in the different language domains and skills. They will usually show good understanding of goals "We should be able to correct our written mistakes.") and hopefully these will then become common goals for teacher and class. Or they can give a list of goals for the students to rank, and use the results for establishing the criteria for


2. Introducing the idea of portfolios to the class.

Teachers of English will need to present the idea of a portfolio to their classes. They can start by explaining the wor- from portare (carry) and foglio (sheet of paper). If possible, they may ask an artist or a student of art, architecture or design to bring in their portfolio; this will help convey the principle of a portfolio as a selection of a student's work, showing progress in different areas or skills. It is also a good idea to show the students examples of English portfolios prepared by other classes, and, ideally, even a portfolio of their own (showing, for example, the development of their work with the class).


It is worth directing students' attention at this stage to the marn aspect of portfolios, which is their use as a learning tool.

3. Specifying portfolio content.

Specify what, and how much, has to be included in the portfolio - both core and options (it is important to include options as these enable self-expression and independence). Specify for each entry how it will be assessed. The students should be acquainted with the scoring guides/rating scales that will be used before performing the task. Portfolio entries can take many forms - written, audio and video-recorded items, artifacts (e.g., a T-shirt, an annotated drawing, a model), dialogue journals, etc.

3. Give clear and detailed guidelines for portfolio presentation.

Explain the need for: clear and attractive presentation dated drafts attached reflections or comment cards.

Explain how the portfolio will be graded and when it needs to be ready (final and mid-way dates).

Remember - unfamiliar ways of teaching and assessment are potentially threatening and confusing to students. It is important to present the portfolio guidelines clearly, and to go over the guidelines periodically. Although all the guidelines - goals, content, timetable, etc. should be presented to the class orally, so that they can discuss the procedure and ask questions, there should also be written guidelines to back-up the points discussed and for reference while preparing the portfolio. It is helpful to prepare these guidelines in question-andanswer form. These can be written in the student's mother tongue if necessary.


4. Notify other interested parties.

Make sure that the school principal is aware of the new learning procedures. It is also a good idea to inform parents about the portfolio-based learning and allow them to comment on the work.

S. Preparation Period

Support and encouragement are required by both teacher and students at this stage. The students will get it from the understanding teacher. Teachers will get it by doing portfolio-based learning as teamwork in their staff or jouung or initiating a support group to discuss questions with colleagues as they arise. Devote class-time to student-teacher conferences, to practicing reflection and self-assessment and to portfolio preparation, since these may be new skills for most students.

Reflection and self-assessment do not come naturally to people who have had little practice in it, and require learner training. For example, encourage them to ask themselves: What did I learn from that activity? Which is my best piece? How can I improve this? This can be done by class brainstorming (what are some possible reasons for including an item in your portfolio?) or in pairs - "portfolio partners" - who help each other select samples of their work (written comments on their work from a peer can also be included in the portfolio). Teachers should start with more structured forms of reflection and slowly proceed to more open reflective comments. This is training in a life-skill, and is well worth the time and effort spent in class. Give guiding feedback. The finished portfolio may be due only at the end of the semester, but it is a good idea to set regular dates at which


time several portfolio-ready items (i.e. with drafts and reflections) will be handed in, so that students know whether they are on the right track. Alternatively, the teacher can have a portfolio project on a single unit of material so that both teacher and students will acquire experience in this kind of learning over a shorter period of time. Ownership: To ensure that the portfolio represents the student's own work, some items can be done completely in class. The teacher might also decide to have a test (preferably with corrected version) included as a core item together with reflection on what the student learned from doing the test and revising it. Furthermore, the teacher may ask the students to explain in their reflections who helped them to improve their work (a peer, a parent, a spellchecker) and what they learned from revising their work.

6. Assessing the portfolios and giving feedback.

Each portfolio entry needs to be assessed with reference to its specific goal(s). Since the goals and weighting of the various portfolio components have been clearly fixed in advance, assessing the portfolios is not difficult.

Self and peer-assessment can be used too as a tool for formative evaluation, with the students having to justify their grade with reference to the goals and to specific pages in the portfolio. This actually makes the teacher's job of assessing the portfolio much simpler, because the pupil has done the groundwork of proving how far each goal is met in the portfolio. It takes some of the burden off the teacher and helps students to internalize criteria for quality work. Students can even generate their own report cards based on their portfolios.


After all the efforts that the students have invested in their portfolios, it is recommended that the teacher provides feedback on the portfolios that is more than just a grade. One possibility is to write a letter about the portfolio, which details strengths and weaknesses and generates a profile of a student's ability, which is then added to the portfolio. Another option is to prepare certificates which comment on the portfolio strengths and suggest future goals.

7. Student-teacher conferences.

An important element of the portfolio philosophy of shared and active assessment is that the teacher should have short individual meetings with each pupil, in which progress is discussed and goals are set for a future meeting. Students and teachers should document these meetings and keep the goals in mind when choosing topics for future meetings. In this way student-teacher conferences play an important role in the formative evaluation of a student's progress. They can also be used for summative evaluation purposes when the student presents his final portfolio product and together with the teacher decides on a final grade. This is a student's chance to negotiate the portfolio grade using evidence of achievement according to the agreed goals. Notes from these conferences can be included in the portfolio as they contain joint decisions about the individual's strengths and weaknesses. These conferences can be prepared for in pairs, where students practice presenting their portfolios.


8. Follow-up.

After the portfolios are complete, it is a good idea to have an exhibition of

portfolios and/or student-led parent-teacher conferences, in which students

present their portfolios to their parents.

b) Paper-Based Portfolio Learning for the Teaching of Writing

In assessmg writing competence through portfolios, the following will

explain the stages of one activity from beginning to end and show how the portfolio-

based learning can be implemented in the classroom:

Table 2.1 - Stages of Portfolio Implementation

Goal Sample Classroom Portfolio Evidence Assessment Tools
Correct copying Transfer selected Handwriting Teacher/peer
information from sample, "a text I compliment
text copied"
Expressing feelings Write caption Project - me/my Rating scale,
and ideas describing favorite family/neighbour- Self/peer
person or object hood etc. (first assessment with
Write about hobby, draft, revised/ revising/editing
favorite person etc. edited draft, final checklists
+ comment (why I written product) Teacher's log
like it/her) Journal (minimum/partial!
Dialogue journal maximum
entry investment)
Convey factual Write note/ caption Written product Teacher's rating
message /ad/ newspaper with first draft, scale, Self/peer
article revised/edited draft assessment with
and final copy .. and
editing checklists
Review and reflect Write guided (Guided) comment Scale to assess
comment card on card on task quality of
task. Explain why Cover letter reflection
favorite task was ( clear/partial!poor
included. Write evidence of review
cover letter and reflection) 76

c) Paper-Based Portfolio Learning & Process writing

Portfolio assessment and process writing are natural partners, SInce both show effort and development very clearly. Below is the way how to apply some principles and techniques of process writing. Process writing is an approach to teaching writing which tries to simulate the process that many writers go through in their native language. In this way it does not only focus on the final product but also on the stages along the way, such as gathering ideas, noting them down, reorganizing and rephrasing them and preparing a final, accurate version. In other words, process writing marks a shift from exclusive emphasis on the products of writing to emphasis on the process of writing and on interactive learning between teachers and students and among students themselves. The five stages of the writing process can be referred to as:

1. Prewriting

Before students start on their writing task, it is important to define the three comer stones of any piece of writing: the audience, the purpose and the form.

In real life, every piece of writing is influenced by who it is written for (its audience) and why it is being written (its purpose). It is helpful to reproduce this procedure in the classroom. For example, instead of telling the students "Write a composition about your holiday", the instructions could be "Write a postcard to a friend about how you are spending your holiday". Some examples:


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The tree outline can help prepare pupils in writing a description (e.g., My cat Icha), where the different branches represent the different paragraphs (e.g., his physical description, how I look after him, why I love him so much)

2. Drafting

Writing the first draft enables the student to write freely and without frustration. It is important that the student puts the message down as soon as possible after the prewriting stage without worrying about grammar, spelling or punctuation.

Some guidelines for students:

1. Write the draft immediately after the pre writing stage.

2. Write on every other line.

3. Don't worry about mistakes at this stage.

4. Complete the draft in class.

3. Revising/ Editing

Revision gives the student the opportunity to:

1. Improve the content

2. Improve the organization

3. Improve the sentence structure

4. Make vocabulary more exact

5. Reduce sentences for conciseness or expand for clarification

Editing eliminates or reduces spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. During this stage teacher's feedback is important and valuable. A few suggestions:

1. Make concrete suggestions for improvement in an encouraging way.

2. Have students share their writing with a partner or small group.


3. Use a writing improvement checklist, such as the "Story Checklist" below.

4. Use a mechanics checklist, such as the "Self and Peer Editing Checklist".

Table 2.3 - Samples of Revising/Editing Checklists

Self Assessment Revising Checklist for Story
Name Title Date

Directions: Read the story to yourself. Then check your story for each item below.
Make any changes to make your story better.
1. .................... The title goes with my story.
2 ..................... I like the beginning.
3 .................... I used good descriptive words to describe what I meant.
4 .................... Each sentence makes sense.
5 .................... The order is logical.
6 .................... I like the ending. 80

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2, thank you letters


3. letters to authors of books read

4. letters to celebrities

5. e-mail projects with other schools

6. bulletin boards

7. booklets for others to enj oy

6. Advantages of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning

Portfolios have great value for the student. Because the collection of artifacts

should be driven mainly by the student; it is bottom-up, reflective, intrinsic and

meaningful, thus, self-motivational. Engel (1996: 25) states, "Portfolios allow

children to express themselves. Even if students are told what artifacts that are to be

used, in the reflection portion the students can tell why they did the artifact as they


Portfolios also allow for individualization; the brightest and best students

will still be allowed to express themselves fully, but portfolios will allow the more

reserved students to come to the front of the class, as well. Engel (1996: 25) notes:

"Many children are inexpressive in schools; portfolios allow them to be expressive. Characteristics and habits of mind, although not always acquired in school, can, nonetheless, be sustained there. Curiosity, confidence, and imagination must be recognized, valued, and given opportunity for expression. These are the sources of energy, not only for school learning, but for lifelong learning. . .. Portfolios can capture and reveal significant aspects of personal meaning. When reviewing portfolios with children, teachers find that they are indeed using 'new instruments and looking in new places'. The new instruments are the portfolios themselves. The new places are the products of the active, creative, energetic, imaginative, constructive, and meaning-making minds of children."


Portfolios also have the advantage of maintaining a students' work for an

extended period of time. This is a significant dynamic, which deserves emphasis.

Without a systematic scheme for retaining students' work it can be rightfully

assumed that once papers and assignments are returned to students this same work

often fails to make its way out of the classroom. Instead, the work might be

deposited in the trash, or even just left strewn about the classroom. Essential learning

opportunities are wasted with this type of practice. Wolf(1996: 108) states:

"The use of portfolios engages students in constructing a story--a long-term account--of what and how they learn. As they page through their collections in April or June, they are struck by what they have learned. But that in itself is a story. With time, experience, and conversation, students' ability to read their own portfolios with depth and understanding also develops. Early on, students appraise their own work using only standard and flat-footed criteria: neatness, length, or the grade written at the top. As little as six months later, they notice and care about a widened range of characteristics. Their judgment is variegated; they know a piece of work can open with fireworks and fizzle in closing."

Further, portfolios may: 1) represent a wide range of student work in a given

content area, 2) engage students in self-assessment and goal setting, 3) allow for

student differences, 4) foster collaborative assessment, 5) focus on improvement,

effort, and achievement, 6) link assessment and teaching to learning 7) focus on

actual pieces of student work, not approximations supplied by a score on a

standardized test, and, 8) present a learning history (Grady, 1996: 75).

While the above discussion is intended to give a broad overview of the

advantages of portfolios, the next portion is attributed to the teaching of English

writing in particular. Park (undated: 2) lists two advantages. The first one is what he

states as "one advantage cited frequently in the portfolio literature" is the notion of

student authority or ownership enabled by the opportunity students have to review


their writing and decide which pieces they will present to the teachers and what they

would like teachers to see in that writing. For reasons such as this, portfolios

stimulate student interaction with peers and student ownership in the learning

process. This feeling of ownership is enhanced by the fact that the portfolio

experience is not a brief, one-shot presentation of writing. A greater sense of

authority or ownership, in tum, can increase learner motivation, since learners feel a

greater personal stake in the work they produce. Another often cited benefit of

portfolios is that portfolios can be used to encourage students to reflect on the pieces

they write and on the processes they use to write them. Student reflection on their

writing in preparation of a portfolio is a key concept in portfolio pedagogy and an

essential aspect of leamer-directed assessment.

7. Disadvantages of Paper-Based Portfolio Learning

The management portion of this review examines the disadvantages a teacher

might encounter should they, either, presently use portfolios, or decide to employ

them in the future. Perhaps as expected transition to a different educational practice

and the apparent burden presented by time constraints are real issues to be

considered. Other issues such as individualized grading can also be problematic.

True assembly line education is convenient and time effective, but is it best? The

scales of advantages versus disadvantages should always be tipped in favor of the

students' achievement. Black (1996: 54) supports this by stating:

"Time and grades are among the other concerns. Managing portfolios takes time. But, teachers who change from traditional assessment to portfolio assessment are more likely to manage their time without frustration if they change teaching styles at the same time. Grades are another sticky issue. How


can teachers assign grades when they're assessing students' portfolios for effort, progress, and insight? High school students and their parents might object to portfolio assessment on the grounds that college admissions offices require grades and class rankings."

Granting school rankings, transition issues, logistics, and other concerns their

fair measure, the availability of time appears to stand alone as the most often cited

disadvantage for the use of portfolios in the classroom. Glazer, Rooman and Luberto

(1996: 78) state: "A major concern was the amount of time and effort required to

implement the use of portfolios in the daily classroom".

Melograno (1996: 154), when looking at the use of portfolios, adds "teachers

may say, 'I have too many students and not enough time.' The reality for most

teachers is to manage students first and deliver some kind of instruction second".

Danielson and Abrutyn (1997: 43) classify time, perhaps the most often cited

disadvantage, as nothing more than a challenge. They state:

"Many educators think that their days are already full and they cannot possibly add another major initiative to their work with students. Practitioners most apprehensive about the time demands of portfolios tend to regard the processes of instruction, testing, and portfolio development as three discrete tasks. They point out that they are already pressed for sufficient time to cover all the content of the curriculum and doubt that they could add another element to the instructional process curriculum and doubt that they could add another element to the instructional process."

In terms of the teaching of writing, Park (undated: 2) lists some

disadvantages in handling portfolio-based learning such as the complexity involved

in grading such collections of writing (developing appropriate grading guidelines),

maintaining consistency in portfolio grading, and avoiding subjectivity in grading.


A possible solution to these problems is the development of explicit instructions for both students and instructors that ensure consistency and reliability in both the compilation and evaluation of portfolios (Park, undated: 2).

C. The Review of Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning

1. The Nature of Electronic-Based Portfolio Learning

Portfolios can be presented in different formats, and electronic-based portfolios are one of them. The paper-based portfolio learning is stated by Meo (2002: 1) as one of the most pervasive innovations recommended by educational reformers of the 1980s and 1990s while the electronic-based portfolio one is acknowledged by Barret (2001: 1) as "an innovation of the early 1990s", an electronic portfolio (also know as an ePortfolio, e-portfolio, efolio, digital portfolio, webfolio and so on) is essentially an electronic version of a paper-based portfolio, created in a computer environment, and incorporating not just text, but graphic, audio and video material as well. An early definition is established by the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (Cambridge, 2004: 1) that electronic portfolio is a collection of authentic and diverse evidence, drawn from a larger archive representing what a person or organization has learned over time on which the person or organization has reflected, and designed for presentation to one or more audiences for a particular rhetorical purpose. Later on, Abrarni and Barrett (2005) define an electronic portfolio as: "a digital container capable of storing visual and auditory content including text, images, video and sound ... designed to support a

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