Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Applied Linguistics

Committee Chair

Charles Hall

Committee Member

Teresa Dalle

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Verner Mitchell


The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the opportunities and challenges that the use of the assessment portfolio offered to both instructors and students as they used it for the first time in the writing class of an intensive English program (IEP) in the United States. Although much work has been done on portfolios in L1 and other contexts, almost nothing had been done within IEPs. Therefore, this dissertation provides novel information about portfolios in an important language learning environment. This study spanned over a period of 40-weeks. Data from four instructors and 17 students were collected through multiple semi-structured interviews. Additional data were collected from a group of 37 students through a written survey questionnaire to find the extent to which their opinions matched that of the interviewed students. Other data sources included interview with the IEP director, IEP director’s follow-up meetings with the instructors, faculty meetings, informal conversations with the instructors, and students’ portfolios. Results obtained from the instructors revealed that the assessment portfolio offered them various opportunities. For example, the portfolio served as a repository tool, documented students’ learning, helped instructors monitor students’ writing progress, and demonstrated students’ efforts. The portfolio allowed students to reflect on their progress as writers, and provided a record of their writing performance across different levels. Students’ keeping the portfolios organized, finding class time for portfolio management, and determining the reliability of students’ self-assessment were among some of the concerns that the instructors mentioned. Analysis of the students’ data revealed that most of the students saw the portfolio as a repository, organizational, and learning tool that provided them with an opportunity for monitoring their progress. Some students, however, appeared indifferent to the portfolio. Some students also felt uncomfortable assessing themselves and preferred their instructors’ assessment. All students liked the analytical rubrics used to score their writings. The 37 students’ responses on the written survey were mostly consistent with those collected from the interviewed students. Findings from this study, whether in the form of opportunities and/or concerns, can better inform the planning and implementing of the assessment portfolio in an IEP.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

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