In this course, you will earn your course grade by assembling two portfolios, one at mid-term, and one during the last weeks of class. The links below lead to answers to questions you may have about portfolios.


What do we mean by “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 (more explanation below), which is a piece of writing that presents the portfolio contents to readers / evaluators and that explains why particular contents were chosen and what they are meant to show.


Why use portfolios?

Using portfolios is the most effective way to evaluate the extent to which you are achieving the kinds of learning represented in our course learning outcomes and to evaluate the fullest range of work you do to achieve these kinds of learning.

Think of your experiences in many other courses:

You earn your grade with three or four exams, perhaps regular quizzes, maybe a writing assignment and / or a presentation, and often a grade for “participation.” Most of the work you do for a course and the “learning” that results from it—active reading and re-reading, multiple study strategies, drafting and revising a written assignment or presentation, active listening and participating in class activities—contribute to your grade only to the extent that it affects your performances on exams and quizzes.

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.

Further, 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 recognize how you have engaged with the course and how you have expanded your learning.

Your choice of evidence helps with its evaluation, and your reflective overview (a central part of the portfolio) helps me understand what you include as evidence and why you include it.

In other words, the portfolio gives me 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.


What is a “portfolio process”?

Collect, Select, Reflect:

These are the three phases of a process you use to maintain your portfolio

As a way to think about the process in this course, let’s start at the end and work backward.

For the mid-term and the final portfolio, you will assemble a portfolio, which will include selected evidence of your learning and a fully developed reflective overview. With these portfolios, you will show and explain how and to what extent you think you have achieved the learning outcomes specified for that particular portfolio.

By “show” and “explain” I mean that you will select evidence (from the various kinds of work you have been collecting); and with a fully developed reflective overview, you will explain how these examples of your work show that you are achieving the course outcomes (and to what extent). An effective portfolio depends on your meaningful, consistent, and active participation in class activities and assignments. Further, being able to select the most appropriate evidence means that you have been collecting your work on a regular basis.


What will I collect?

If you are following along so far, by now you realize, we hope, that you want to collect all the work you do, keeping it in a folder on your hard-drive, in your Microsoft "OneDrive" account (online, in the "cloud"), on a flash drive, or in some other cloud site you may use (Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Sites, a blog (WordPress, Blogger), Wix, Weebly, etc.).

From another angle: for every class (1301, 0399, any other courses in which you are writing) and between classes (homework, library, study time) you will be completing numerous assignments and activities. But most of those pieces will not be graded individually. Instead, you will use selections from all that work to demonstrate your learning. If you aren’t doing the assignments and activities as they are scheduled, regularly, you will not have evidence to support your claims for learning.

All of the assignments and activities in this class are designed to engage you with knowledge and skills related to our course learning outcomes. The assignments and activities expect your meaningful, consistent active participation:

  • in regular face-to-face interactions in classes; and
  • in using various kinds of informal writing in and out of class.

In fact, for every 1301 class meeting, you may write before or during or after (and often all three).


The Reflective Overview

The Reflective Overview (RO) is the most important piece of writing you will do for a portfolio. You will discuss this in much more detail as you prepare your portfolio, and I will provide you with detailed instructions and guidance.

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.