The Midterm Portfolio

What is a Portfolio?

We define a portfolio as a collection of work purposefully selected and intentionally assembled by a learner. The one piece of writing that is required in a portfolio is an extensive reflective overview, which is a piece of writing that presents the portfolio contents to readers and that explains why particular contents were chosen and what they are meant to show. With the portfolio and the reflective overview that accompanies it, you are able to show and explain a more complete representation of the work you accomplished and the learning it represents.

Additionally, the process of collecting, selecting, and reflecting—what we call the “portfolio process”—invites you to be more active in your learning. And with the reflective overview, you take responsibility for helping your instructor (and other evaluators) recognize how you have engaged with the course and how you have expanded your learning. Your choice of evidence helps with our evaluation, and your reflective overview (a central part of the portfolio) helps us understand what you include as evidence and why you include it. In other words, the portfolio gives us a broader and deeper view of your performance and learning than is possible with single tests or with single pieces of writing.

Finally, and perhaps most important, using the portfolio process engages you in the kinds of higher-order, active thinking that promotes deeper, long-term learning. Portfolios emphasize reflective thinking (metacognition) and "learning how to learn," the kinds of skills your future will require. Your success as a professional (and as a citizen) will depend on your being able to use your knowledge and skills to address unique challenges, to work independently and as a member of a team, to be flexible, and to be more responsible for your success.

The Reflective Overview

The Reflective Overview (RO) is the most important piece of writing you will do for a portfolio. The RO invites you (some might say "challenges you") to help your instructor(s) understand how to evaluate / think about / "read" the materials in your portfolio. When you think of the RO in this way, it is also your opportunity to explain what you might not have done, or how you fulfilled expectations in ways that are different from the norm.

Because the RO is an important piece of writing—it is the first thing your instructor will read, expecting the RO to help her or him make sense of all the other work you did—you will want to produce more than one draft, sharing with classmates so you can consider revisions to make this piece more effective. Without a reflective overview, a portfolio is nothing more than a collection of artifacts, and readers of the portfolio are forced (free) to make sense of these artifacts as they see fit. With the overview, the writer takes control of her or his portfolio, helping readers understand the portfolio in the ways that the writer intends it to be understood.

You are responsible for selecting evidence that you think best demonstrates your performance, your learning, your development of specific skills and knowledge; and you are responsible for helping portfolio-readers understand your choices, which you will discuss in the RO. There are course outcomes and core outcomes listed on my course syllabus, which you can find here?. For your RO, you will select evidence which demonstrates your learning in relation to the following outcomes:

ENGL 1302 Course Outcomes

  • Demonstrate their ability to analyze different rhetorical situations (in academic, workplace, or civic contexts)
  • Explain what they have learned from being a novice in new writing situations, and describe how these experiences, which might include failure, contribute to their willingness to accept new challenges as a writer

ENGL 1302 Core Outcomes

  • CS 1: Develop, interpret, and express ideas through written communication
  • PR 1: Evaluate choices and actions, and relate consequences to decision making

The evidence you select for your portfolio should come from your Tetrad N courses, but you may include work from other courses as well. For many students, portfolios are problematic because instructors will not prescribe "the" way to assemble a portfolio. Nor will she or he provide a checklist of materials to include. Students have no one formula to follow, nor can they wait until the night before it is due to assemble and complete a portfolio that will earn a satisfactory grade. In other words, for many students, the portfolio prevents them from using the same methods in college that they used to succeed in high school. The portfolio process requires you to be an active learner, to value deep learning, to engage in the kinds of intellectual work that you haven’t been asked to do before now.

For the Reflective Overview template, click here

For an example of a Portfolio, click here

Portfolio Requirements

  • The Reflective Overview (RO) in MLA format-3-4 pages double-spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman
  • Pieces of evidence for each outcome listed above (4 outcomes total)
  • The portfolio is due on Monday, October 17th at 11:59 PM on Blackboard.

Adapted from Andrea Montalvo