Portfolios: Why and How To

ENWR 105, 106, 110, 210, and 380 are portfolio-based courses; that is, once or twice a semester, students compile what they consider to be their best, most polished work, and instructor evaluation of that work determines the bulk of the student's course grade (usually between 50-70 percent ). Portfolios are always collected at the end of the semester; some instructors also collect and evaluate a mid-term portfolio.

The mid-term portfolio should contain revised versions of at least one longer writing sample and two or more shorter assignments and exercises. The final portfolio might include all drafts and revisions of individual papers, shorter assignments, and exercises; some or all of this material should be revised to the highest gloss the student can muster. Some instructors prefer final portfolios to contain only a sampling of the students' strongest work. Final portfolios also generally include "process letters," in which students explain how and why they revised particular assignments.
Why use a portfolio?

Students in ENWR learn cumulatively; during the course of the semester, they should develop increasingly mature strategies for writing arguments. A portfolio allows students to revise their work as they develop these strategies; it enables them to apply later lessons to earlier assignments. As a result, both students and instructors can gauge overall progress.

Some instructors do not put grades on pre-portfolio versions of papers. This allows students to concentrate on refining their skills and on their cumulative progress, rather than focusing on the absolute success or failure of individual assignments.

Click here for two different portfolio models: one including most of the semester's assignments; the other, a sampling of student work.