ENWR 380 Portfolios


ENWR 380 is a portfolio-based course; 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 in ENWR 380). 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?

When students don't receive grades on each individual assignment, they are able concentrate on refining their skills and revising their work, rather than obsessing about their marks. 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, rather than focusing on the absolute success or failure of individual assignments.
How does portfolio grading work?

Though students should of course receive feedback on all of their submitted work and students should be penalized if they fail to hand in assignments, only the writing they include in their portfolios should receive a grade. Read through the portfolio and assign it a single grade based on each student's overall achievement: the author's success in meeting the stated goals of individual assignments as well the quality of subsequent revisions. The portfolio grades should be holistic.

For more on grading and commenting, click here.