Section 5 - Conclusion
This chapter shall present all the conclusions that have been made based on the discussions made in the previous section as well as the presented literature in order to answer all the research problems presented in this study.
Statements from the Discussions
Based on the gathered results most of the children are motivated to be interested in reading by means of the visual graphics that accompany the materials. Also, the children are motivated based on the teaching strategy of the teachers during the lectures. Another relevant factor in the children's interest is the reward system being given if they are doing great in their respective work.
Based on the results gathered, most preschoolers achieve total reading development in approximately six months. This is in close coordination of teachers as well as the parents in practicing their children. However, there are preschoolers that develop their full reading ability in about a year. Various factors affect this such as the child's interest, amount of coordination and monitoring of parents among others.
Based on the gathered results, the major difference observed in the developing activities of the students under the portfolio is that their comprehension has been improved. Also, their interest towards reading has been improved. Although there are students that doesn't seem to make a difference towards their reading attitude and habits.
Those students that are not under the portfolio did not make any difference with regards to their reading attitude and habits prior to the study.
The teachers interviewed in the study believed that the extent of the improvement in the reading instruction by means of the portfolios are significant. Portfolios can provide evidence that students have met standards that a variety of teaching techniques are used in the classroom, and that students are actively engaged in learning (Damiani, 2004). Portfolios can help teachers help students realistically appraise themselves by providing specific qualitative goals and descriptors that avoid vagueness, unrealistic positive or negative self-evaluation, either-or thinking (the work is either good or bad), or perfectionism (Damiani).
The most common recommendation based on the teachers' responses is the portfolio should be customized depending on the level of reading ability of the students. In some approaches, teachers usually scan through the portfolio and assess the work with reference to a scoring guide. In some cases, students or their classmates would also rate their works. A learning record is then prepared by the teacher, which shows the final score with attached substantiations such as a sample essay (Lynch & Struewing, 2001; Hillmer & Holmes, 2007; Hope, 2005).
The computed data revealed that there's a significant effect of the portfolio assessment in the increase of learning of the preschoolers based on a 0.05 level of significance. Therefore, portfolio assessment increases learning development in the area of reading in preschool children to a significant extent, as determined by a pre and post study examination and comparison of reading grades. Portfolio assessment methods have been shown to be effective in enhancing student learning because portfolio assessment involves interaction between students and their teachers. However, portfolio assessment, like standardized assessment, has drawbacks. Portfolios are believed to improve evaluation procedures by illuminating students' concerns. The main purpose of portfolios is to motivate students to reflect on their work activities (Au et al., 2008; Chang, 2001). Advocates of portfolio assessment method claim that it enables students to think about not only their acquired learning for the whole school year but also their personal learning processes. This enhances the quality of education of students (Chang, 2001).
Teachers and a moderator perceive that portfolio assessment contributes to improved reading instruction (i.e., language concepts, letter recognition, letter patterns, letter formation, and beginning sounds) of preschoolers to a significant extent. Portfolio assessments can also improve teacher instruction because they can provide proof students are actively, rather than passively, engaged in learning and that they have met academic standards. In addition, portfolio assessments can indicate that teachers have used a variety of teaching techniques in the classroom (Damiani, 2004). ). Delette and Kevolkian noted that since they are compiled over time, portfolios can be used to reflect academic growth and progress. For instance, by requiring students to build meaning from various books and other reference selections primarily intended for use at different grade levels, the level of development of the student can be evaluated. In addition, teachers are influenced to lay down standards or expectations with the purpose of determining student's progress relative to the set standards (Delette & Kevorkian, 2001). Teachers can also use their recorded remarks and the compilation of the students' work to support any conclusions they draw when reporting to students' parents (Chang, 2001). Lynch and Struewing (2001) added that portfolio-based assessment offer promising approaches for the criteria for validity—results, equality, mobility and generalizability, higher level cognition, quality and coverage of contents, value, and cost efficiency. In addition, Chang (2001) noted that the portfolio-based assessment motivates schools and districts to further develop the professionalism of the teachers and independent groups. Teachers are more conscious of the quality of the work of every student in class. Gearhart and Osmundson (2008) found in their study of the role of assessment portfolios in teacher learning that portfolio assessment helped teachers develop a greater understanding of assessment planning, quality assessments and scoring guides, strategies to analyze student understanding, and evidence-based instruction.
Portfolio assessment has a positive effect on the reading development [i.e., readiness; learning to read; rapid progress in fundamental attitudes, habits, and skills; extension of experience and increases in efficiency; and refinement of attitudes, habits and tastes (Indrisano & Chall, 1995)] of preschool students and on the level and quality of teacher instruction in reading. Promoting analytical thinking in children necessitates involving students and teachers in an active learning environment (Tang, 2006). Developing meaning and analytical thinking in terms of reading development cannot be done in a limited learning environment. Using standardized assessment programs, which emphasize tests and multiple choice questions, cannot adequately meet the instructional needs and provide an assessment process that is suitable for preschool children Therefore, alternative assessment models such as portfolios should be, applied (Jarrett et al., 2006).
This study looked into two issues regarding the effectiveness of the portfolio assessment as an effective evaluation scheme. First, the study inquired into what language problems are addressed by the portfolio assessment as an effective tool in students self-evaluation. The data found that through this alternative self-evaluation scheme, students are able to identify the language problems they had. Moreover, they were able to make some improvements in these identified linguistic problems. In addition, the students were able to identify four areas of improvement as reflected in their evaluation essays. These are: linguistic, cognitive, affective and social. The students' evaluation of their performance and the improvement of their communicative competencies went beyond the identification of the linguistic problems they had. Through their honest and sincere assessment of their performance in the English course, the freshman students also shared their insights on their appreciation of the course and the teachers they had who were instrumental in the improvement of their communicative competencies
What is really important in the institution of the portfolio evaluation is the ability of the students to develop learning autonomy (Mirador, 1998). It is only after the students are trained to think for themselves and trust their capabilities that success in ESL writing can be achieved. Students learn to be independent thinkers when they are given the opportunity to monitor their own progress in the development of all the macro-skills needed for their course. The learning process cannot be successful unless the learner achieves full autonomy for himself.
The portfolio assessment opened channels of communication between the teachers and the students. Students were given free reign to evaluate their own performance and assess their best essays which they themselves chose. This alternative evaluation scheme has given the students the awareness to know their strengths and weaknesses. Also, they were made to appreciate their written output as they were challenged to produce substantial and good essays.
Education should support the development of creative thinking and teaching-learning activities, methods and techniques, teaching materials and assessment situations both in teacher-student relationship and in education environment. Teacher-student relationship, assessment approaches affect the development of creative thinking processes considerably (Torrance, 1995; Olson, 1999). Education should focus on teaching students high-level objectives in the cognitive and psychomotor fields. Creative thinking will grow in situations where there is psychological reliability for the individual. Objective tests measure the behaviors of students, especially in knowledge and comprehension of Bloom's Taxonomy levels; it can be applied in the application level scarcely. The questions asked in objective measurement and assessment approaches are closed-ended and measure the development of convergent thinking, therefore may hinder the development of creative thinking.
The portfolio assessment, differing from tests, is based on the cooperation of the teacher and students in finding solutions to the problems. Searching for a solution to a problem in cooperation means to produce more suggestions for solutions. The individual learns how to analyze, synthesize and criticize the others' ideas while trying to make the others accept his/her ideas, which provides significant contributions to the critical thinking a lot. The portfolio assessment also contributes to the critical thinking of the students during their artistic studies.
Digital portfolio assessment is an assessment method that can be applied successfully both in teaching the subject and assessing the learned material. Apart from its positive effects on academic success, it also contributes to high self-confidence. Digital portfolio assessment method affects the development of children in various aspects positively apart from their learning skills.
Research on portfolio assessment used in the schools of United States is abundant (Engel, 1994; Smith, Brewer & Heffner, 2003), but local studies are scarce. Having analyzed the current use of portfolio assessment in this context, some implications for its successful implementation are drawn. Firstly, it is of paramount importance that adequate professional training has to be provided for teachers to master the concepts and the use of various kinds of portfolios for different purposes. Secondly, a small class size can facilitate the implementation of portfolio assessment by allowing time for teachers to review portfolios together with individual pupils. Lastly, cooperative learning can enhance students' ability of conducting self assessment which enables them to write reflective statements and make a wise choice for evidence for inclusion in their portfolios.
Portfolio assessment makes use of well-chosen criteria that are indicators of success. Portfolio assessment is an efficient tool for determining a student's learning level and level of improvement (Chen & Martin, 2000). Portfolio assessment also encourages student-teacher interaction and thus encourages interactive learning using diverse instructional methods. Numerous studies (Chen & Martin; Colley & Walker, 2003) demonstrated that portfolio assessment can be helpful in inducing learning, particularly in reading (Afferblach, 2007; Hillmer & Holmes, 2007).
Portfolio assessments can also be effective in terms of improving teacher instruction. Portfolios can provide evidence that students have met standards that a variety of teaching techniques are used in the classroom, and that students are actively engaged in learning (Damiani, 2004). Portfolios can help teachers help students realistically appraise themselves by providing specific qualitative goals and descriptors that avoid vagueness, unrealistic positive or negative self-evaluation, either-or thinking (the work is either good or bad), or perfectionism (Damiani).
Student portfolios can also serve as models for teachers to develop their own portfolios to show their professional development. A teacher's professional portfolio could include a statement of teaching philosophy; videotapes of successful classes, curriculum materials developed; course syllabi; sample lesson plans; professional development goals and objectives, professional development seminars, classes, or workshops attended; articles published; student evaluations; recognition awards or certificates; professional affiliations, and principal's and supervisor's evaluations (Attinello, Lare, & Waters, 2006).
In spite of the significant effect of the usage of portfolio assessment, there are students that cannot cope. This might be because of their age range. Wasik and Bond (2001) noted that one important reason why children may be left behind when they start formal schooling is because they lacked early opportunities that encouraged them to develop a love for language and reading. Wasik and Bond (2001) warned that this can have a negative impact on children's success in school. Scientific research in recent years shows that the enhancement of children's reading and learning processes depends on how well parents and educators work together to teach children how to learn to read (Wasik & Bond, 2001 ; Morrow & Tracey, 2007). Parents and preschool learning opportunities can utilize fun activities especially designed for a particular age group preparing them to read and be ready to learn. Learning how to read could be beneficial to young children especially during the significant formative years. Books, stories, and explanations coupled with good instruction and supportive parents provide children with a worthwhile learning process (Wasik & Bond, 2001; Neuman & Dwyer, 2009).
Presently, there are few studies examining the views of educators regarding the extent to which portfolio assessment contributes to improved reading instruction of preschoolers. Much has been written about reading assessment and assessment strategies. For instance, Afflerbach (2007) examined why teachers assess reading, what is assessed, and how reading is assessed. However, Afflerbach (2007) focused on K through 12 students and not preschoolers. Courtney and Abodeeb (2005) discussed methods of introducing and constructing portfolios in a second grade classroom, including the preparation, diagnosis, and collection and sorting processes and goal setting, reflection, and student sharing. However, neither Afflerbach (2007) nor Courtney and Abodeeb (2005) addressed teacher perception or used scientific methodologies that could show a relationship between portfolio assessment, reading achievement, and improved reading instruction. Therefore, research is needed to determine how teachers perceive such a relationship.
Engel, B.S. (1994). Portfolio assessment and the new paradigm: New instruments and new places, Educational Forum, 59(1), 22-27.
Smith, J., Brewer, D.M., & Heffner, T. (2003). Using portfolio assessments with young children who are at risk for school failure. Preventing School Failure, 48(1), 38-40.
Torrance, E. P. (1995). Why to Fly? A Philosophy of Creativity. New Jersey: Norwood: Ablex.