[University home]

Faculty of Humanities Teaching & Learning Office

Blended Learning Examples

Online Portfolio Assessment

Online Portfolio Assessment

Arts, Languages & Cultures
MEST10210 Middle Eastern Studies
Support in developing and integrating formative assessment

For the second year in a row, Middle Eastern Languages have introduced an online portfolio assessment alongside the customary end of year examination and in-class exercises.

Three main reasons motivated the use of online assessment by portfolio: the need to keep students on their toes when learning languages ab initio, avoiding drop-out by spreading assessment throughout the year, and promoting the learning autonomy (in and the outside classroom) necessary for language learning.

For such a three-faceted end, short and regular online tests were introduced through semester 1 and semester 2 alongside reflection tasks. The tests aimed to alert students of specific gaps in their knowledge while keeping a learning Journal aimed to develop self-evaluation and reflective skills.

Students were able to complete the tests in their own time and from home - except for those tasks like translation where students could easily take unfair advantage from web-translators and similar web tools. Invigilated tests were used in semester 2 tasks to ensure fair assessment. Oral tasks such as where students can record themselves in Arabic and listen to their own recording and self-correct themselves before submitting the work were very well-received by most of the students as they felt less pressurised by doing it at home. Pools of questions were also created in level 2 courses so that students would not be presented with identical tests.


Student feedback shows that regular tests challenged their learning (85% strongly agreed or agreed), made students revise more seriously than non-assessed exercise (70% strongly agreed or agreed), and reflection tasks to be completed post assessment increased student awareness of weaknesses (75% strongly agreed or agreed). Other outcomes, such as the development of keyboard skills in the target language, as well as the possibility for students to go back at any time during the academic year and revisit their answers and feedback, was also positive, as students may not always take the feedback provided on homework as seriously as the feedback provided on the online assessment.

While student feedback was very positive overall, tutors consistently raised the time commitment involved in developing as well as marking online tests. The completion of tests off-campus and using student own computers increases the potential of connection and settings-related errors. Also tests using foreign language characters, right to left writing test the capacity of BB9 to accommodate effectiveness, easiness and accessibility at the same time.