While the portfolio method will present a dynamic picture of particular students’ trajectory through our writing program, it will also provide us a useful way to triangulate the data we obtain from other methods, that is, to provide a holistic description of the writing students do.
In proposing this project, we are aware that all methods of assessment have limitations. Our current quantitative method gives us insight into whether students have improved in their writing over their four years, but it does not tell us why. The portfolio project will supplement this insight by showing us the means by which they do or do not improve. That is, this portfolio project will provide not only a qualitative perspective on what constitutes improvement and on how that improvement happens, but also insight into courses, assignments, student engagement, and student perspectives on the experience of learning to write at Grinnell.