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WRD e-Portfolios: Principles & Practices

From the Handbook for First-Year Writing:

The student writing portfolio. As a cornerstone of our pedagogy, the student writing portfolio provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate the degree to which they have achieved the program’s learning outcomes. Writing portfolios are required of every student in every FYW course and necessitate that students keep track of their work (collection), take responsibility for selecting pieces of their writing that represent their achievements (selection), and reflect on their own work in the course (reflection). In this way, students are accountable for their choices; they must consider what they have and haven’t learned; and they must come to grips with their role in this learning.

Assessment: The portfolio should be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Does the student understand the goals of the course and can he/she talk about them competently? Does the student understand what makes writing good?
  • Can the student write clearly and competently about his/her own writing?
  • Does the evidence in the portfolio support the conclusions/assertions made in the reflective letter?

A well-written reflective essay with partial or missing support in the portfolio will not receive a high grade, nor will a poorly written reflective letter with good support.

Adapted for the First-Year Writing Program from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) “Principles and Practices in Electronic Portfolios”

Learning Outcomes

Students are guided by clearly articulated individual, course, programmatic, or institutional outcomes in their collection, selection, reflection upon, and presentation of “artifacts” (various electronic documents) in the e-portfolio. At the same time, students structure portfolios around their own learning goals.

Supportive best practices by WRD Faculty:

  • Familiarize students with programmatic learning outcomes
  • Share the rubric that will be used in e-portfolio assessment
  • Provide students with models of e-portfolios that illustrate different ways of meeting programmatic outcomes and satisfying rubric criteria
  • Help students identify personal learning goals and adapt programmatic outcomes to those goals
  • Design e-portfolios that demonstrate their own learning goals in teaching

Reflection and E-portfolio Pedagogy

Students create “reflective artifacts” in which they identify and evaluate the different kinds of learning that their e-portfolios represent. In particular, students may explain how various forms of instructive feedback (from faculty, Writing Centers, peers, and other readers) have influenced the composition and revision of their various e-portfolio artifacts, making teaching methods and learning contexts more transparent to their readers.

Supportive best practices by WRD Faculty:

  • Teach students different formats and forms that facilitate reflection on their learning at various stages of drafting and web-design (e.g., reflective cover letters that introduce and link readers to various artifacts; concept maps)
  • Teach students that ongoing, rigorous reflection is a crucial part of the process of creating e-portfolios that are dynamic, not static websites
  • Provide opportunities for students to give each other feedback on e-portfolio artifacts, including reflective artifacts
  • Give students clear, constructive feedback that encourages revision and offers technological tips for improvement
  • Encourage students to consult with Writing Center tutors or other institutional support services
  • Collaborate regularly with other faculty, technology staff, and program directors to share the most effective ways to provide feedback and teach reflection

Our Responsibilities

Students receive the necessary support from faculty, program directors, and university administrators who not only use e-portfolios for assessment purposes and program improvement, but also keep informed about what resources are essential for implementing, maintaining, and accessing e-portfolios.

Supportive best practices by WRD Faculty:

  • Familiarize themselves with relevant theory and e-portfolio research
  • Participate in ongoing programmatic assessment of student e-portfolios
  • Use findings of e-portfolio assessment to improve approaches to teaching

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