|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 1301 Course Outcomes
- Demonstrate their ability to analyze different rhetorical situations (in academic, workplace, or civic contexts)
- Demonstrate your ability to locate, read, evaluate, select and use (integrate) effectively information from appropriate sources with your own ideas
- 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 1301 Core Outcomes
- CT 3: Analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information
- CS 1: Develop, interpret, and express ideas through written communication
- TW 1: Integrate different viewpoints as a member of a team
- PR 1: Evaluate choices and actions, and relate consequences to decision making
The evidence you select for your portfolio should come from this class, but if you feel strongly that a particular assignment from another class connects with what you have learned in this class, you may include that work as well. Be sure to explain and support your choice in your RO.
For many students, portfolios are problematic because instructors will not prescribe "the" way to assemble a portfolio. Nor will she or he provide a set-in-stone checklist of materials to include. Students have no one-size-fits-all 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.
- The Reflective Overview (RO) in MLA format
- Pieces of evidence for each outcome listed above (4 outcomes total)
- Include at least 3 of the Portfolio "mini-assignments" in your portfolio
- The RO and all evidence should be in a folder with brads, and all work should be in the brads
- You are also required to submit your Reflective Overview and evidence online through Blackboard. Attach your evidence (documents) to your BB submission.
- The Portfolio is due Thursday, October 20th 11:59 pm.
- The hard-copy portfolio will be accepted without late penalty until Friday, October 21st at noon. (in my box in FC 113)
(If you are unsure how to attach files in BB, see me before the due date or contact Blackboard support at the IOL Helpdesk - 361-825-2692. You can also submit a help request via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adapted from Andrea Montalvo & Bee Flores