The use of writing portfolios in place of traditional exams in high school biology
Theroux, Brian Joseph
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The desire for metrics of student ability remains high even as emphasis changes from high-stakes, high-stress standardized assessments of content and memorization to procedural awareness and communication skills. This study investigated the effectiveness of writing portfolios in place of traditional exams. Classroom research checked for consistency between students of different incoming knowledge and ability levels, and for effects on student motivation and course engagement. Students' expression of core concept knowledge was assessed through writing portfolios in treatment groups and with short answer tests in comparison groups. Data collected from test scores, portfolios, surveys and teacher-student dialogues was triangulated using qualitative and quantitative analysis. Results suggested students' expression of core content knowledge and basic subject knowledge were equitable or improved, with notable alleviation of test grievances.