Overview of portfolios
From each class (beginning with the first-year class entering in 2007) we will select 12 students by asking a selected group of 4 tutors to name three students each—one of modest writing ability, one of average ability, and one of superior ability. (We will also ask another four tutorial professors to name three students each, to yield a list of matched students as a backup should some of those originally chosen fail to follow through.) Participating students will be told that they are part of a select group requested to participate in a four-year scholarly project to help the College understand how better to teach writing. As an incentive, they will be promised feedback on their writing as well as a modest honorarium.
Students who agree to participate will keep copies of all assignments, papers, and revisions, and at the end of each semester they will choose 2 or 3 papers from different divisions that they tentatively decide to include in their portfolio (total number of pages, excluding bibliography and reflection, not to exceed 20). This selection will include, in the first and second year,
- a set of drafts that best exemplifies their ability to revise effectively
- a paper that demonstrates their ability to analyze or interpret in a unified and coherent way
- a paper that demonstrates their ability to create an effective argument and support it by using primary or secondary sources
- a piece of writing, in any genre, of which they are the most proud.
In their third and fourth years, the portfolio’s selections will include
- their best example of an eloquent and persuasive academic essay
- their best example of their ability to write with power and grace
- a pair of papers that best exemplifies how they have developed as writers
A single paper may, of course, meet more than one of these criteria. At the end of each year, the student will complete the portfolio for that year, and the next year will create another portfolio meeting the listed criteria. Each succeeding year, the student will maintain the portfolio at roughly the same number of papers, adding new papers and reflection to replace earlier ones, or, in a reflective piece, justifying any decision to leave the portfolio, in whole or in part, unchanged.