PART THREE - ON-GOING EVALUATION
The process and procedures that are needed for an appropriate ongoing evaluation plan for learner-centred, adult literacy programs are those that are:
It can be shown that a portfolio approach to ongoing evaluation can fulfil all of these requirements.
First of all, the most fundamental element of portfolios is that they are learner-centred.
Portfolios are moulded around the learner. They are collections of the individual's work and reflect that individual's effort, progress and achievements.
Furthermore, portfolios can be a vehicle for empowering students. The process of establishing a personal literacy portfolio helps the learner in setting goals and reviewing them. They also learn to consider possibilities and to make choices using critical thinking and problem solving skills.
The active involvement of the learner in working with the instructor to set learning goals and establish criteria for success, and then reflect on his/her work to select samples for the portfolio, empowers the learner to assume ownership of their learning.
Since a portfolio is a collection of material, it can include samples of work gathered on an ongoing basis. It can also include many different indicators of progress: reading assignments, progress reports, drafts, self-evaluation notes, video and audio tapes, etc. Portfolios also can include examples of literacy tasks outside of class. Copies of a driver's license, copies of a letter written to a friend or a book read to a child are examples of authentic tasks that could be included in a portfolio.
Thus, portfolios can fulfil the requirements of providing a process that collects multi-dimensional data on an ongoing basis.
Since the criteria for inclusion can be determined collaboratively by learner and instructor, portfolios allow instruction and evaluation to be "woven together" (Paulson, Paulson & Meyer, 1993, p.60). Thus portfolios can provide evaluation data that is authentic and related specifically to instructional and learning goals.
Furthermore, if the data provided through a portfolio approach is specifically related to instructional and learning goals, it will be data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction and to determine what has been learned and what still needs to be achieved. Knowing this, instructional decisions can be made and new learning goals can be set. Thus, portfolios can provide meaningful information about past performances and useful information on which to plan future actions and directions.
Portfolios can fulfil the requirements of good literacy practice. Therefore, very careful consideration should be given to their use when developing an evaluation plan for learner-centred, community-based, adult literacy programs.
However, the key word in the above statement is "CAN". If a portfolio approach to evaluation is to meet the requirements of good practice, then much thought needs to be given to: