Assignment: First Year Writing Digital Portfolio
Portfolios play many roles in academic and professional life: artists use them to document and to showcase their work over time; architects use them to present drawings, media, and projects to clients; writers use them to make connections between the kinds of work that they do individually and collaboratively for any number of creative, academic, and professional goals and readers.
In each case, purpose and audience help to guide your rhetorical selection of materials, your reflections on those materials, and their presentation. In the First-Year Writing Program at DePaul, we use digital portfolios as a way for you to showcase your work, to explore what you've learned, and to show how you've met the First-Year Writing Program's learning outcomes and your course outcomes.
First-Year Writing Digital Portfolio Requirements
Your instructor will guide you through a process that begins early in the term for selecting, designing, reflecting on, assessing, and presenting the work you have done in the course. Your WRD Digital Portfolio will contain,
- A Reflective Essay that introduces your work to your peers, your instructor, writing-program administrators, university-assessment committees: 750-1250 words
- Samples of your work that support as evidence your learning outcomes:
- rhetorical knowledge
- critical thinking, reading, and writing
- knowledge of convention
- composing in electronic environments
The design and composition of your digital portfolio draw on the very same strategies and outcomes that you've been practicing in your WRD first-year writing course: readers will attribute credibility and authority to you when your design and arrangement are done with care; thoughtfully integrated examples of your work will support your reflective essay's main points; and you will get practice in articulating and presenting your academic and professional identities.
Note that our Scoring Guide reflects these teaching and learning priorities:
Guidelines for the Composition, Design, & Presentation
of your Digital Portfolio
These stages of portfolio development serve as a guide; they work differently for everyone, and no one moves through them at the same pace. Some writers reflect constantly, always making connections between assignments and pieces of writing, while other are organization-focused or spend more time in iterative drafting/design. We offer these stages here not as a prescriptive how-to guide to follow, but as a way for you to gauge your own process and to help you plan ahead (hint hint):
Keep everything you've worked on in this course in a safe, backed-up location — notes, early drafts, final drafts, journal entries, peer and instructor feedback, everything. You might not use all of these materials in your final portfolio, but your life will be easier if you know where they all are, and when they are easily accessible.
After you have made careful, judicious selections of the work that you want to include in your portfolio, you can make good use of the organizing principles in Digication. You'll want to think through some rhetorical decisions in advance: how to label your links; how to present long passages of text; where to incorporate visuals; how to represent different kinds of work — individual, collaborative, collective, reflective, academic, personal. Just as readers have certain expectations of an academic essay, conventions have developed around portfolios as well, including easy-to-follow navigation, readability, and accessibility.
Opportunities & Alternatives for Reflection
Some questions to consider for your Reflective Essay:
- How do you define revision? What steps have you taken this quarter to revise for different audiences and contexts? Provide clearly labeled specific examples.
- To what degree does the target audience, purpose, or context impact the work in your portfolio? Provide clearly labeled specific examples.
- How do you analyze texts (including the work of other students)? How do you define critical reading? Provide clearly labeled specific examples.
- What role(s) has peer review played in your development as a reader, writer and thinker? Provide clearly labeled specific examples.
- What do you consider to be the most important components to your writing process? Why? Has that changed over the course of the quarter?
- How do you edit? How do you manage to ensure correct surface features: syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling? What considerations figure into your editing?
- Describe your approach to writing in different genres.
- Describe your intended audience-based rhetorical effects on a project or paper and the steps you took to achieve those audience-based rhetorical effects
- Beyond the learning outcomes, what individual goals did you have for your reading and writing this term? What have you accomplished that you feel proud of? What would you like to continue to work on?
Reflection refers to the iterative process that we engage in when we want to look back at some activity or decision we’ve made, to think about what we’ve learned from it, and how we might use it in the future. Reflection is a powerful tool in teaching and learning — think of it as a dot-connecting mechanism — and outside of academics, reflecting is a common tool among professionals and organizations as a way to establish values, goals, and future actions:
- What did I do?
- What was significant about it? Did I meet my goals?
- When have I done this kind of work before? Where could I use this again?
- Do I see any patterns or relationships in what I did?
- How well did I do? What worked? What do I need to improve?
- What should I do next? What’s my plan?
Feedback, Critique, Workshops
We recommend that you invite feedback and critique from peers, from your instructor, and from tutors in the DePaul University Center for Writing-based Learning. Some instructors will ask for mid-term portfolios to facilitate this process.
We also highly recommend searching and reviewing other students' portfolios — Digication-based and otherwise — to get a sense of conventions, possibilities, strong and not-so-strong examples, and in order to situate yourself rhetorically in this emerging genre that showcases your work.