Final Portfolio Outcomes Essay
Due: Your final portfolio is due 5/4 at 8:00 am
(that’s when our final exam period is scheduled)
As the semester comes to an end, you will organize the work on your course site into a portfolio showing the work you have done this semester. Make certain that your entire course subdomain looks complete, coherent, and like you’ve given some thought to its overall design and aesthetics. As part of that process, you’ll write a portfolio cover essay about 750 – 1250 words (3-5 pages) in length, discussing your own learning and the improvement and progression you’ve made in the course.
Reflective Cover Essay
In this particular case, the reflective essay should take as its topic your relationship to the writing process and should explore the improvements or progression you have made in this course. Over the course of your essay, you will link to and discuss each of the major projects you’ve published this semester, along with some of the best of your other work.
You might ask and answer the following questions:
- Has your process for writing changed over the course of the class?
- What insights have you gained into yourself as a learner?
- Are there new strategies you now employ that you had not previously?
- Are there areas you have identified in your writing process that still need work?
- What part of your exploration of your writing process do you feel has been the most successful?
- What have you learned in this course about writing that you did not know before?
- What have you learned about yourself as a researcher, as a person who engages in argument, as a person who cares about inquiry?
- What have you learned about collaboration with others, or about giving and receiving feedback on your writing process this semester?
- How has the work you’ve done this semester helped you to fulfill the learning objectives for the course?
- How has the you’ve done this semester met the criteria for successful writing according to the terms we’ve established as a community?
- What is your best work for the course? Why do you think it’s your best? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your other work?
Your reflective essay will address these kinds of questions in some way and will make use of the artifacts (your writing projects) you include in your portfolio as evidence to support your answers to the above questions. A reflective essay does not need to have a specific thesis but should have an organizational framework that takes the reader of your essay though your ideas effectively and clearly.
Writing a Reflective Essay
Because process is such a personal part of writing, in this reflective essay feel free to use first person and write a narrative of your experience, rather than an argumentative essay. You can present your discovery by:
- Telling a story,
- Exploring each piece of your writing process and the role it plays in producing a final product,
- Discussing your failures and how they turned into successes, or
- Starting with your successes and then discussing how you intend to improve in other areas needing further developing.
However you choose to structure this reflective essay, it still needs to have a purpose. That purpose need not be defined by a thesis but perhaps might have more to do with acknowledging what you have learned and what you are still learning.
What is most important is that you engage with your writing process in three ways.
- First, engage with the process of writing some of the artifacts you included in your portfolio. Describe your writing process. An important part of composing a work whether in a digital space, on paper, or orally is figuring out the process you, as a composer, need to go through in order to effectively create a text, artifact, or presentation. It can include many of the techniques that your instructor may have mentioned: outlining, word webs, response paragraphs, and blogging. It can also be much more informal: emailing a professor about an idea, sketching out notes on a napkin at a coffee shop, or talking to a friend about your ideas. Ultimately, your writing process includes each step you take from the coffee shop napkin to an outline to a first draft and eventually, a final product. Discovering and being able to articulate your own writing process will help you become a more effective writer/composer as you progress through college.
- Second, engage with the process of curating the portfolio as a whole (which pieces you chose, what order you put them in, and how they represent your learning/discovering your writing process over the course of the term).
- Third, consider talking about the different genres or literacies in your final portfolio. How are they different from one another? How did you figure out the genre conventions that were appropriate to each artifact in your portfolio? What skills might you use to identify genres of writing beyond this course?
Because you are talking about the process of writing/composing each artifact and the portfolio as a whole, you should think of your portfolio and its artifacts as texts to be analyzed (like you would a piece of literature or an article not written by you). Quote from your writing. Use it to show your process and describe how the writing itself demonstrates your learning.
Imagine that the audience of your reflective essay has not read your writing before. You need to teach them about the artifacts themselves and how your writing process directly your portfolio.
Describe the assignments you composed in this course that allowed you to practice writing for an audience. Make sure to discuss what you learned in those assignments. Also, consider the challenges of writing to different audiences and how you managed those challenges.
Nuts and Bolts
New Index Page
The reflection should become the new index page for your course site and should begin with a note indicating that the site is an archive of the work that you completed as part of ENG181.03 at Emory University during spring semester 2016 and include a link back to your primary domain, should a visitor want to go see what you are up to currently, and a link to the site for this course, so that a reader who is going through your work can easily find out more information about the course you were in.
Student Learning Outcomes
Notice that each of the Student Learning Outcomes outlined in the course site is a separate blog post, with its own separate permalink (slo1, slo2, slo3, slo4, slo5). As you are going back through your site and writing your reflection essay, consider how each piece you worked on met one or more of those learning outcomes, and then add a link someplace on that page to whichever outcomes it applies to–feel free to follow the example in the previous sentence and simply add a small parenthetical note with links to whichever outcomes apply.
Adding those links will create pingback comments on the Student Learning Outcomes posts on this site, and will therefore become another nonlinear route for exploring the work we’ve all engaged in as a community this semester. In order to make sure this works, first log into your own dashboard and find
Settings > Discussion and the first check box, which is probably unchecked, says “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article.” Check that box, then save your settings.
Your reflective essay should conform to the same hybrid of MLA guidelines and conventions for publishing on the web that you’ve used for your other writing this semester.
Your reflective essay must include visual elements. You have lots of freedom to decide the nature of these visuals, but one good choice available to you is to take screenshots of the projects on your site and use those as images for the major projects as you discuss them. You can also repeat images from your projects in your reflective essay. Or, you can use Flickr advanced searches to find CC-licensed images to use in your essay (make certain that you link back to the image properly if you do!). Just make certain that any images your include in your reflective essay are clearly identified with good captions.
Use links not URLs throughout your reflective essay and throughout your site.
In the process of reorganizing your site into a portfolio, you might consider changing themes for your course site. Your goal is to make certain that the entire site looks good, and shows that you’ve given thought to how the pieces all fit together. Think of the entire course site as an argument that you have met the learning outcomes for the class and that you know how to write, design, build, and publish an effective and thoughtful academic web site.