A score of Needs Work (NW) on your portfolio means that your faculty reviewers felt that you needed to improve one or more key writing skills before you graduate from Carleton.  To learn more about what this score means and how it fits into your academic progress at Carleton, you can consult the FAQ For Students with a Needs Work Portfolio Score.  Academic advisors might also want to download the Quick Guide for Advisors to NW Portfolio Revisions.

In nuts and bolts terms, students who receive a NW score will need to demonstrate improvement on the skills identified by their faculty reviewers to pass their portfolio requirement.  In order to do this, you will meet with Dr. George Cusack (the Writing Across the Curriculum Director), submit written work from your classes, and write occasional pieces of reflective writing.  When Dr. Cusack feels that you have demonstrated sufficient progress in your writing, he will direct the Registrar to change your portfolio score to a Pass.

The portfolio revision process is not intended to create significant work or stress outside of your other academic duties.  Since the writing assignments you submit will come from your classes moving forward, the only work you’ll need to do for the portfolio alone is to meet at least once with Dr. Cusack (30-45 min), create a writing plan (30 min), and write a short reflective essay each term (30-45 min).  Beyond that, you’re free to use any additional resources that are available to you to improve your writing, but you won’t be required to complete any additional work.

How the Process Works

Step 1: Log Into the Moodle Site (Deadline: ASAP)

Within a few weeks of receiving your score, you’ll be enrolled in a Moodle site specifically for Needs Work students.  This site is confidential, so you won’t be able to see who else is enrolled, and they won’t be able to see you.  You’ll use this site as the hub for all of your activities related to the portfolio.

Step 2: Schedule a Meeting with George Cusack (Deadline: Week 2 of the term)

Near the top of the Moodle page, you’ll see a scheduler that will allow you to set up a conference with Dr. Cusack.  You are required to meet with Dr. Cusack by Friday of week two of the first term you spend on campus after you receive your score (for most students, this means week 2 of Fall term).  This meeting must be in-person, so students who are on leave or OCS may put off the meeting until they return to campus.

Step 3: Submit a Writing Plan (Deadline: 1 week after first meeting)

At your meeting, you and Dr. Cusack will discuss your faculty reviewers’ comments and come up with a basic plan for how you will complete your portfolio requirement.  You will then upload a formal Writing Plan to Moodle that will address what you intend to improve in your writing, how specifically you will do this, and what resources you’ll employ to help you.  You need to upload your Writing Plan to the Moodle site no later than one week after your first meeting with Dr. Cusack.

Step 4: Submit Work from Your Classes (Deadline: throughout the term)

Throughout each academic term, you’ll use the Moodle site to upload all of the writing assignments you complete in your classes.  The goal here is to establish a record of the writing you’re doing, so you should upload everything you can, even assignments that don’t directly relate to the goals in your Writing Plan.

Step 5: Submit Reflective Essays (Deadline: each term during finals week)

At the end of each term, you’ll submit a short reflective essay describing your progress that term.  These essays are a required part of the process, and the only work (other than the Writing Plan) that you’ll need to write specifically for the portfolio requirement. Reflective essays are due at the end of finals week every term until you pass your portfolio.

Step 6: Review and Feedback (Winter, Spring, and Summer breaks)

After each term is over, Dr. Cusack will read your reflective essay, review the work you submitted that term, and decide if you’ve made sufficient progress.  Regardless of that decision, Dr. Cusack will give you at least some feedback on your writing.  In some cases, he may also request that you schedule another meeting with him and/or revise your Writing Plan, if your goals or methods seem to have changed significantly.