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Assessment Through Student Portfolios in Omani Schools

Al-Amri, Khalid Ali
A Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages by Khalid Ali Al-Amri Entitled, "Assessment Through Student Portfolios in Omani Schools," June 2006. Thesis Advisor is Dr. Rodney Tyson. Available are Both Soft and Hard Copies of the Thesis.
Why do Omani teachers not use student portfolios as effective alternative tools of assessment? Why do they only depend on traditional testing to evaluate students progress in the English language? Although the Ministry of Education in Oman asks English teachers to use student portfolios as another way to assess students skills besides testing, many teachers mainly use tests and look at portfolios simply as folders that keep students work safely. In fact, there is a lot of research on student portfolios as an alternative assessment to measure students achievement and strengths, but there are no specific research studies on why Omani teachers, in particular, are not convinced that using student portfolios is a serious means of assessment like traditional testing. Much literature supports the value of using portfolios in improving students work and growth in the target language and emphasizes that portfolios can be used in any kind of program or school. Many studies have found that use of student portfolios is one of the best methods of assessing students because portfolios involve students in their own learning. The purpose of this study was to investigate why so many Omani teachers are not using student portfolios as an additional means of assessment beside traditional testing to evaluate students growth and progress, as well as to address the following questions: What are students attitudes toward using portfolios as a second means of assessment? Do English supervisors support teachers to use student portfolios effectively? And do parents look positively upon student portfolios as a supportive tool of assessment? Surveys and interviews with Omani students, teachers, parents, and supervisors were used. The findings indicate that the four participating groups all believe in the power of portfolios in assessing students continuously. However, although parents preferred their children to be assessed mainly through test results, students preferred to have personal portfolios containing their work. In addition, heavy schools duties, a big number of students in each class, lack of caring of both parents and students, not receiving any encouragement or support from supervisors, and lack of knowledge about how to assess students through portfolios are the main reasons that hindered teachers from using portfolios in Omani schools. Thus, there is a need for training courses and workshops that may guide them in using portfolios in the assessment process.
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