Communications Project

Document Type:Dissertation
Name:Starlin Dawn Weaver
Title:Using Portfolios to Assess Learning in Chemistry: One Schoolís Story of Evolving Assessment Practice
Degree:Doctor of Philosophy
Department:Curriculum and Instruction
Committee Chair: Thomas G. Teates
Committee Members:Michael Bentley
Melanie Biermann
John Kowalski
Susan Magliaro
Keywords:Portfolio, Authentic Assessment
Date of defense:October 27, 1997
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


Using Portfolios to Assess Learning in Chemistry: One

Schoolís Story of Evolving Assessment Practice


Starlin Dawn Weaver

Committee Chairperson: Thomas G. Teates

Department of Teaching and Learning


The purpose of this study was to investigate the process of implementing an alternative form of assessment in chemistry classrooms. The current reform of science education involves the implementation of varied forms of instruction; it stands to reason that assessment will evolve with the curriculum (Baxter, Shavelson, Goldman & Pine, 1992). In an era for which the exclusive use of multiple-choice and similar tests i.e., fill-in the-blank, matching, and true/false are inappropriate measures of student abilities (Hamm & Adams, 1991), portfolios can offer a suitable alternative assessment, as well as a means for evaluation (Paulson, Paulson & Meyer, 1991).

This study was conducted in a small math, science and technology high school and focused on three individual teachers and twelve of their students. The research focused on how teachers defined portfolios and implemented this assessment tool in their classrooms and how students and teachers perceived the use and value of the process.

This study employed qualitative methodology using individual interviews, document analyses, and classroom observations. Data sources included documents, transcripts of interviews and fieldnotes.

The primary research questions were: How do the teachers define and implement portfolios? How do the teachersí definitions of portfolios change during implementation? What are the studentsí understandings of portfolios and how they are used and do the studentsí understandings change? What do teachers and students believe portfolios represent regarding the learning that occurs in the science classroom? and What do the data collected via this study demonstrate about portfolios as a valid means of assessing student progress?

The teachersí and studentsí definitions addressed four of the six components of portfolios identified in the literature. Both groups recognized a defined use, evidence, student and teacher made decisions, and reflection as key portfolio elements. Each group failed to identify the components of a defined goal and teacher student conferences.

Portfolios were viewed by the teachers and students as a valuable tool. This value was defined in terms of student self assessment and evaluation, teacher assessment and evaluation, college admission, goal setting, promotion of student organizational skills and recognition of student success.

List of Attached Files

Appendix_A.pdf Appendix_B.pdf Appendix_C.pdf
Appendix_D.pdf Appendix_E.pdf Appendix_F.pdf
Appendix_G.pdf Appendix_H.pdf Reference_List.pdf
Vita.pdf ch1.pdf ch2.pdf
ch3.pdf ch4.pdf ch5.pdf

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