La Rivista per l'insegnamento e l'apprendimento delle lingue

Developing learning strategies through portfolios

Debra Ali-Lawson
Beverly Langsch-Brown
Maryanne Strahm-Armato

Les auteures décrivent une expérimentation avec des portfolios dans le contexte d’un cours d’anglais “business English” à l’Université des Sciences Appliquées de Berne. Les étudiants préparent des portfolios pour suivre leur progrès dans les compétences linguistique d’écoute, de lecture et d’écriture. En utilisant des portfolios les étudiants apprennent et appliquent plusieurs stratégies d’apprentissage: planifier, résoudre des problèmes, utiliser des ressources et réactiver des connaissances préalables.
L’utilisation des portfolios permet aussi une plus grande autonomie dans le choix des textes et des méthodes de travail.
L’expérimentation a aussi montré que les étudiants sont capables de s’auto-évaluer. Les auteures donnent des exemples concrets qui montrent que les étudiants ont beaucoup appris et sont contents de leur travail.
Pourtant, dans le contexte académique, les étudiants ne travaillent pas uniquement pour l’acquisition des savoirs, mais aussi pour les notes. Les tâches liées au portfolio pourraient jouer un rôle plus important dans l’évaluation formative.
Les auteures sont convaincues qu’une approche contribuant à développer les stratégies d’apprentissage grâce aux portfolios est souhaitable dans tous les contextes éducatifs. (Red.)


Three years ago a golden opportunity presented itself. We three lecturers at the University of Applied Sciences in Berne (UAS) had just formed a new team. As we set about redesigning the Business English courses and our curriculum, we were able to rethink our positions on teaching and learning. In the course of our discussions, the idea of including reading and writing portfolios into our program started to develop.
Each of us brought her own ideas and experience to the team. In accordance with the academic setting and our brief, we aimed to encourage learner independence and lifelong learning. There was the wish to initiate more written work in preparation for external written exams and the hope that communication between the lecturers and the students would improve. We were looking for ways to support individualized learning and to increase motivation. The UAS Berne, School of Business and Administration portfolio project was born.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a flexible, constantly changing collection of work which can be used to illustrate personal achievements. Artists use their portfolios to display their best works of art, models carry portfolios of their most photogenic moments and students and teachers can collect their writing and certificates to document work done successfully. The European Language Portfolio, which is currently being implemented in many European countries, is an example of a portfolio used by language learners to attest to their language abilities. Portfolios can be on paper and contain written, visual or audio artefacts. Alternatively, they can be in electronic form and accessible through the Internet.
Our students prepare several portfolios on paper to track their progress in reading, listening and writing. The entire process is depicted in the flowchart. The steps students take, as well as possible learning strategies students apply in the process of completing a task are shown. These are more clearly described in the following sections of this paper.
Since they contain rough copies of the work done, the UAS portfolios provide evidence of learning processes. They are typed and presented as formal business reports for assessment at the end of the semester. From such learning portfolios, students can then choose their best samples to create showcase portfolios to document language skills in order to prove to employers or tertiary level educational institutions that they possess the abilities to succeed in the business world or in further studies. [...]

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