If you have additional questions that you think we should address on this page, please contact Dr. George Cusack, the Director of Writing Across the Curriculum.

Are the portfolios graded anonymously? Do I need to take my name off of each essay before I submit it?

The portfolios aren’t anonymous—there will be a cover sheet with your name and student id on the portfolio itself when it goes to the readers. So, it really doesn’t matter whether you anonymize the individual essays or not. There are some possible advantages to scoring the portfolios anonymously, but we've found that, in practice, it's not feasible. There's no practical way to make sure students take their names off their individual essays, and it's not possible for us to look through each portfolio and check on after the portfolios are submitted. We've also found that the reflective essay often ended up revealing personal information like gender, race, and ESL status in the reflective essay anyway. On the upside, putting students’ names on their portfolios also allows faculty to deliberately avoid their ex-students, which ensures that your readers won't be biased by their previous experience with you.

My portfolio is due this term, but I’m transferring to another school. Do I still need to submit my portfolio?

We're sorry to see you go, but no, you probably don't need to submit a writing portfolio. 

If your new school doesn't work out and you decide to return to Carleton down the line, you will need to submit a portfolio before you enroll in any further Carleton classes. 

However, if you're fairly certain that you won't be back, you don't have much to gain by submitting the portfolio now.  Other than the enrollment hold, there is no penalty for not submitting your portfolio--you'll still receive credit for the classes you take this term, and the lack of a portfolio score won't appear on the academic transcripts that you forward to your new school.

I have more questions. Who can I contact?

We're happy to help. Please contact...

George Cusack, Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, by e-mail or at extension 4082.
Mary Drew, Assistant to the Director of the Writing Program by e-mail or at extension 4192.

My portfolio is due this term, but I’m taking a gap term/year starting next term. Should I still turn in my portfolio?

Yes.  If you don't submit your portfolio by the deadline, you will receive a hold on your enrollment, which means you won't be able to enroll in Carleton classes when you return.  However, if you turn in the portfolio now, you'll be free to enroll after your gap, even if you receive a score of "Needs Work" on the portfolio.

Are there information sessions for students working on portfolios?

Yes. Special sessions for sophomores are offered during the Sophomorphosis program during fall term.  You may also ask your RA to invite George Cusack to meet with the first-year and sophomore students on your floor for a Q/A session in the evening.  If you are a member of a cohort group, such as TRIO or POSSE, your advisor will likely schedule a session about the portfolio for you--attend!

How did the Writing Portfolio begin anyway?

Great question. It all began when the Carleton faculty voted to include the entire class of 2005 in a pilot project on portfolio assessment of student writing. Find out more about the Writing Portfolio.

I’m worried that my portfolio will not pass. What happens if I fail?

Every year, some portfolios are rated “needs work,” which means that the writers will meet with the Writing Program Director or another writing professional on campus to describe the problems and agree on remedies. Each situation is highly individual. For example, you may be asked to revise material in your portfolio, work with a tutor on your writing, or work with the Writing Program Director on papers for the next term. Once you have completed the extra work, your degree audit will show a “pass.”

The Portfolio Summary form asks me to agree to have my portfolio used in “ongoing research” about student writing. What’s up with that?

The College is interested, for faculty and curriculum development purposes, in knowing what kinds of writing students are assigned and in which courses, and many related questions that can only be answered by examining actual student writing. As the permission form states, you will never be personally identified in any such research.

What happens if I don’t submit a portfolio by the end of my sixth term?

The Academic Standing Committee will decide how to deal with those who do not submit portfolios on time. One thing is clear: You will not be excused from preparing a portfolio and a hold will be put on your registration until we receive your portfolio. It's probably best to do it and save us all a lot of trouble.

When will I find out how I did?

Portfolios are scored by faculty in June, and results are typically e-mailed to students in July.

When will I get my portfolio back?

You will receive the hard copy along with reader comments in your campus PO box early in the next term you are on campus.

I lost most of my papers in a computer disaster. What do I do?

Talk with George Cusack (x 4082) right away. There may be a way to manage, and a conversation is the essential first step.

I’d like to include a paper from a class that I’m taking now, but that paper won’t be done by the portfolio due date. Can I add it later?

Unfortunately, portfolios need to be finalized before the end of the term so we can download and print them in time for the faculty reading session. This means that there's no practical way to include essays that come in after week 7 of the term you submit your portfolio.

May I submit a paper written as part of a group?

Yes, collaboratively written essays are acceptable. If at all possible, you should mention in your reflective essay what parts of the collaborative piece most reflect your contribution to the group; however, that isn't always possible, and the essay is still acceptable if you can't do this. You should also keep in mind that readers really want to get a solid sense of your writing ability, so it's not wise to submit more than one collaboratively-written essay in your portfolio.

May I submit a paper written in a language other than English?

Yes, but be sure to fulfill all the requirements of the portfolio in your papers that are in English. We can't guarantee that we'll have a faculty portfolio reader available to read papers in any other language.

Does the reflective essay count in the 30 pp.?


May I use first person in my reflective essay?

Yes! Please do.

What else is required in that “reflective” essay?

Faculty readers count on this essay to prepare them to read your portfolio, so consider this a persuasive document. Establish your voice, lead your reader through the portfolio, and make an argument. Use the portfolio contents as evidence to demonstrate convincingly whatever you want to say about yourself as a college writer. Most people write 2-3 pages.

Can I get my old assignments and papers from Moodle?

If you wrote the paper during the current academic year, yes. If you need an older assignment and/or paper, you'll need to work with someone who has access to the Moodle Archive for that course. Contact the instructor of the course or Carleton's Academic Technologists for help.

Do all of my papers have to come from Carleton class assignments?

Yes. You may also include work completed while on off-campus studies. If you're a transfer student, you can include work from your previous institution.

Do my title pages, charts, graphs and bibliographies count in the 30 pp. I’m allowed?

No.  And please be sure to include bibliographies. Readers do look at them.

Is it OK to revise my papers before submitting them?

Yes. Readers like to see that you care enough about your work to revise it.

Do I need to submit a paper for every “Gen Ed” category and every “Overlay” listed on the submission form?

No, but you do need to submit at least one paper for each of the criteria listed on the form under #2 (observation, analysis, interpretation, documented sources, thesis-driven argument).

How do I turn in my portfolio?

All portfolios are submitted through Moodle.

Please be sure to upload or enter the following:

  • Your reflective essay
  • Your papers and the assignments you were responding to. If you do not have the assignment write what you remember about it.
  • Your portfolio metadata in the portfolio summary questionnaire.
  • Complete the checklist
  • Click the submit button.
  • You will know that your submission was successful when you receive an email with the badge Writing Portfolio Completion.

What do I need to submit?

Please refer to the Portfolio Requirements.

When is the portfolio due?

Portfolios are due on the Friday of 7th week of a student's 6th term at Carleton. For non-transfer students who haven't taken academic leave, that generally means it will be due in the spring term of your sophomore year. There are two important exceptions, though: 1) Students who will be on an OCS program during their 6th term will need to submit their portfolio a term early (e.g. winter of their sophomore year for on-cycle students). 2) Students who transfer into Carleton as juniors are technically required to submit their portfolio in the 7th week of their first term at Carleton.  If this presents significant problems, junior transfers can petition to submit the portfolio one term later by contacting George Cusack.