Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation (Access Restricted)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Applied Linguistics

Committee Chair

Teresa S Dalle

Committee Member

Emily A Thrush

Committee Member

Angela Bosche Thevenot

Committee Member

Joseph Jones


This dissertation explores potential opportunities and challenges of implementing portfolio assessment in a Saudi university context by eliciting the perceptions and attitudes of instructors and students in the Department of English and Translation at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia when using it for the first time. Most previous research on portfolio assessment has focused on its usage in the first language context with only limited research in an EFL/ESL context and had never been explored at a Saudi university. This study employed multiple semi-structured interviews to collect data from four instructors and eight students. In addition, the 24 students who were not interviewed filled out a questionnaire. This tool revealed the degree of agreement between interviewed students and the other students regarding their opinions about portfolio assessment. The instructors’ results revealed that they encountered some challenges. For example, they complained about the grading system at the university, which was weighted heavily toward midterms and tests, leaving a small amount of the grade for the portfolio. They also complained about the large class sizes, which made managing and grading the portfolios more challenging for them. On the other hand, instructors understood the opportunities the portfolio offered. For example, their assessment became formative rather than summative, which helped them establish a better rapport with students. They also mentioned that the portfolio assessment, which offered them a more comprehensive picture of their students’ writing ability, made their assessment fairer. The instructors’ results in general indicated that they were anxious about the portfolio before its implementation and became more comfortable afterward. The students’ results showed that they benefited from having the objectives handout at the beginning of class. Students felt more confident because the portfolio helped them exhibit their best writing in an attractive fashion. The instructors’ rubric clarified the grading and helped them improve their writing. The overall students’ results indicated that they were disappointed with traditional assessment and looked forward to be assessed through portfolios and similar assessment alternatives despite the additional work required. These findings provide insight into how to design portfolio assessment in this and similar contexts.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.