Your Sophomore Portfolio: Some Assembly Required (batteries not included)

News flash: You have already done over 90% of the work required for your portfolio. Why? Because you will be submitting work you have written for courses during your first six terms. The only new piece of writing is a reflective essay (see #8 below).

Here is a foolproof, step-by-step checklist for assembling Carleton’s sophomore portfolio.

  1. Find the written work you have done in Carleton courses. This may be as simple as looking through your hard drive or through copies of graded work you have kept. On the other hand, it may involve going through Moodle sites and your e-mail to download material that was submitted digitally; or groping under your bed; or remembering the projects you submitted that were not returned—but of course you backed them up on Google Drive, right?
  2. Find the assignment descriptions. The syllabus or Moodle may be good places to look for assignments. And do look under the bed again. If you lack an assignment, do your best to describe the assignment as you remember it.
  3. Read everything. What pieces do you remember most? Why? Is there a particular paper or project that represents you as a writer? In what way(s)? Among your papers, do you see variety of subject matter, style, form, difficulty, and so forth? Sort your work into piles according to your favorite taxonomy, e.g., by discipline; or best to worst in terms of grades or your own satisfaction as a writer; or perhaps by form: critical analysis vs. detailed report vs. policy/position paper, and so forth.
  4. Refer to the portfolio criteria and find all of the papers that could count for one or more of the rhetorical tasks listed. Some papers may cover 4-5 tasks; others may focus on one. Sort again, choosing examples that fit the criteria best as you understand them. At this point, you may want to involve your adviser or another faculty member in the process, especially if you think you are missing one or more of the required tasks. Showing your options to an experienced faculty reader may help you appreciate features of your work that you had not considered. You may also want to review the portfolio FAQ for answers to common questions.
  5. Settle on 3-5 papers (totaling 30 pages or fewer) that will cover all of the criteria. Ideally, these papers will also have assignments. If you lack an assignment, do your best to describe the assignment as you remember it. If your batch exceeds the 30-page limit because of figures or bibliographies, that’s OK. Do not omit such material; its absence will confuse readers.
  6. Feel free to revise your papers. It is not cheating to make improvements on your papers. They have already been graded in the context of specific courses and assignments. Now you have a chance to show them off to a new set of readers, so why not make them as compelling and readable as possible? No educator on the face of the earth would ever hold effective revision against you. Our faculty readers certainly respect such efforts.
  7. Proofread all of the papers you have chosen. Again, PROOFREAD all of the papers you have chosen and make corrections in the electronic files. It is in your interest to present clean, error-free prose in your portfolio. Readers will appreciate the care you show about your work and the courtesy extended to them.
  8. Write an essay to introduce your work. Chances are, your faculty readers will not know you personally, nor will they necessarily be familiar with the subject matter of your papers. Think about them as your audience. What do smart, thoughtful, liberally-educated adults need to know to make sense of your work? How can you direct their reading to persuade them that you are a competent Carleton writer who is ready to tackle advanced work in your major? This is not to say that you should deconstruct the very first paper you wrote and argue that you have progressed to an exalted level since then—although this is a common strategy among students. Think carefully and reflectively (it’s called a reflective essay, after all) about the persona you present and make an argument that uses the contents of your portfolio to prove whatever you want to say about yourself and your writing.
  9. Upload your files, including the reflective essay to the Moodle Writing Portfolio site. You can change files and edit papers right up until the due date or until you click submit.
  10. Complete the portfolio metadata and research authorization on the Portfolio Summary Page of the Moodle site. This information helps with data entry and informs you on how the College uses student work in research. We appreciate permission from students for use of your work in research, since faculty learn a great deal from your written responses to our assignments. On the Portfolio Summary page of the Moodle site Click Save to save any work in progress. Do not click Submit until your submission is finalized. You will not get the opportunity to revise after you click submit.
  11. Complete The Portfolio Checklist and Submit.
  12. Celebrate!
  13. Expect results in July. The WAC director will communicate scores via email to students and to the Registrar.