Monday, December 13, 2004

The Portfolio Rubric --a Draft

This is what I've come up with for my BW students. I wanted to include some very un-portfolio issues like following instructions while addressing the writing component. I've been guided by the idea of what I want BW students to leave BW with, like stronger writing skills, of course, but also a better sense of being a college student, which is reflected in their writing. I'm going to use the Strong/Adequate/Poor levels that our freshman comp portfolio rubric uses.

Here's the draft--would love feedback.

I. Format:

A. Student has followed instructions for formatting the portfolio, using a white MC folder, tab dividers and word processed papers.
B. Portfolio contains an introductory paragraph, an in-class essay, an out- of -class multi-paragraph essay, and a revised piece of writing of the student's choice.

II. Content:

The portfolio demonstrates the writer's ability to develop and organize a piece of writing in either a timed or untimed environment, using a thesis or main idea and supporting the idea with well-developed paragraphs. All essays are organized with a clear beginning, middle and end.

III. Audience:

The essays reflect the writer’s ability to understand and respond to an assignment.and to respond appropriately to the given audience


All of the essays demonstrate that the student has developed a writing process.
The untimed pieces show the student's willingness to rework a draft of writing until it is solid.

V. Grammar and Usage: The writing shows that the student has control over sentence boundaries, verb usage, spelling and punctuation.

Based on the contents of this portfolio, the student is writing at an__________ level.


At 2:39 PM, Blogger sharon said...

Generally, I like what you have. Thinking like a student, what do you mean by "solid" in the process section? Of course I'm a little goofy after grading end-of-term stuff, but I keep picturing an aging hippie saying "solid, man, solid." Of course, that might be fun, too.

Just because I am curious, what will go into the "student is writing at a ______level"? Is there where your grade goes, or do you use a different system than letter / numberical grades. I read a great piece in TETYC about using a slightly different system to show students how far along they are on individual pieces prior to the final portfolio grade. That's got me wondering about the nuts and bolts of portfolio grading.

Overall, I do like your categories. Are they weighted equally?

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Styles said...

Having submitted grades, after a long weekend of reading here, I've but one question about portfolios: "How do you know when hold 'em, and when to fold 'em?"

My old office is deep, Ph.D.-deep, I mean, with the things.

Keep on truckin', I suppose! Great work there!

At 5:46 PM, Blogger clc said...

Having just come from a very combative department meeting in which we locked horns over our current portfolio system, the subject of evaluating these things is certainly on my mind. We require portfolios in both our basic comp and first year comp, and some of us are unhappy with what they must contain: 7-10 pages of revised, edited prose plus an in-class essay for basic and 10 pages of revised, edited prose, MLA documentation, and an in-class essay for regular comp. I don't like the in-class essay; I find it artificial and particularly punishing for non-native writers; others are just bored with the portfolio itself. So we had a heated meeting in which we were trying to decide whether to do it for one more semester. It seems we are going to, but not everyone is happy.

I believe entirely in portfolios. I use them even in my courses in which they aren't a department requirement. I think allowing a student to develop as a writer over the course of a semester, receiving formative rather than summative feedback, is the best way to teach writing.

A student just came in. More later...

At 6:09 PM, Blogger clc said...

OK, I'm back.

We also exchange our portfolios at the end of the semester, and this process, too, has become a sore point. Some feel it is too much work for too little gain, but most of the department seems to feel that this is a necessary process to ensure some sort of consistency and to give us the ability to tell the powers that be that we have "standards" (the big thing around here is "outcomes assessment" these days). Rebel that I am, I tend to have a I-am-tenured-faculty-fuck-you attitude. What I do in my class is my business.

But that gets me into trouble, especially since next semester I am taking on the administrative position of facilitating our writing program. I'm hoping to re-energize things and encourage some changes, but I expect it will be a rocky road.

It just occurred to me I am using Rosa's post to vent. Sorry, folks.

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Rosa G. said...

Sharon, you're right about the word "solid"--couldn't think of anything more specific than that. The "___ level" relates to the two levels of BW, 001 and 002 and the two versions of our comp course, 101A and 101. Tomorrow I will be editing the document into a final draft. Stay tuned. CLC, we have been using portfolios with our freshman comp class and we ask for three pieces of writing. I, too, am against the timed writing, but have turned it into a reflective essay to which students bring outlines or notes, so I feel less badly than I would.
The rest of the BW group is giving essays based on readings and giving the classes two full sessions for writing. Instructors exchange exams and use a rubric for each, so that the students' essay grade is based on the scores of the two readers. There's more to it, but I want to ask a few questions about portfolios and BW.

One question I am trying to answer is "why am I doing this?" This being the portfolio instead of the multidraft essays going into a folder, like we've always done. I'm not posing this question out of resistance, I'm simply trying to figure out what makes this process different, especially since after we've (the faculty) determined half of what the portfolio will contain, the issue of choicemaking seems to wane. It's true that the students can pick which of two essays to include and which journal to expand, but I don't have a sense of there being any piece of writing that they have loved and worked on all semester long, even without my prodding.
Maybe I'm expecting too much from them.

I've spent the whole semester emphasizing how important it is for them to be in charge of their writing and not wait for the teacher to tell them, yet here we are at the end of the semester, and the students are revising papers that I've already graded and commented on, and are seeking help from tutors and peers. I suppose that the difference here is that they have choices to make regarding who they ask for help (if they ask at all), and my comments on their papers are not revisions of their papers.

Anyhow, how do you all teach the portfolio to BW? And Styles, there are television programs that would call your portfolio-covered floor as a carpet--"the look of academe."

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I used to always use portfolios with my basic writing classes- In the program (ESL) that I trained in, portfolio writing was emphasized as the most authentic way to evaluate writing. That said, I never dictated what went into the portfolio other than minimum requirements (eg. you must include 4/7 essays and 5 journal writings). I also had them include all drafts of the writing so it was obvious to them and to me how much of the writing revision was legitmately "theirs" and how much was directly by my comments and questions. The self reflection process was done on their own as they compiled the portfolio.

I had a struggle coming to MC with the composition folders- I still don't do them correctly (shhhh, don't tell anyone.) I didn't understand the purpose of them- at first I thought they were a compulsory COMPLETE portfolio, but now I understand that they are used for grade appeals. I have never been in an environment that seems to have as many grade appeals- or at least has so many provisions set up for grade appeals.

When we switched from the timed writing "competency" to the portfolio in 101/101A, I was glad, but I don't really see what we are doing as portfolios in the way I was taught portfolios. I am not a big fan of the rubric. Also, I think we dictate too much content- and because it is doubled up with the composition folder it seems even less authentic.

For me, the purpose of a portfolio process is to give the opportunity for students to consider their work in light of their understanding of the course outcomes/expectations. Their choices, and the development they demonstrate in their portfolio, should demonstrate both understanding and achievement of the expectations for writing at XXXX level.

The other purpose for me is so that they invest into their writing- that they begin to take more control and direct their writing- these are comments that you have made as well.

In my rubric, I list the components and write my descriptions based on each component of the rubric. I assign points (Portfolios are worth 20% of the final grade) to each component.

I think the wholistic rubric is okay. It probably works better with as a department kind of thing,l but for me individually, I am not sure that it means that much to students unless you are using it with evaluation of each individual essay, and unless you are sure they understand the terms. That is, if I were going to use your rubric, I would use it with the grading of each individual essay through out the semester so that students become familiar with what the expectations mean. I would also discuss readings or other student work with the same language or assessment.

Sorry for the longish comment.


At 11:56 AM, Blogger Rosa G. said...

CLC--would you be willing to write a post here on portfolios? I'd find it useful to hear how one teacher uses them in her classroom. I think that I've had almost portfolios in mine since we do so much revising, but I'd like to know more about your experiences.

I think that voice, audience and word choice have been very much on mind with this rubric--as well as the fact that I am creating it at the end of the semester. I have felt that I am writing for other instructors and trying to articulate what I want my students to get out of the course, AND I'm writing to my students (but not with them, and that makes a difference).

We did write a rubric together, my students and I, but they were very focussed on grammar and on canned writing terms: "the essay must flow," for example, that the rubrics were rather lopsided. I feel that the first part of BW is to teach academic literacy and the norms and expectations of being in college, while writing and learning terms like "revision" and learning by doing. I just don't know if BW students have the confidence or have read enough to be able to articulate something to say that is of substance until about midterm.

Of course, this is a generalization, and yes, all of the exceptions to the rule are popping up in my head right now. And having read this gentleman's blog on assessment:

I feel like a troglodyte.

I'd like to work on the rubric with my (future) class as we create our mission statement next semester.

You know, I've used portfolios in the freshcomp class, and I'm on the committee that brought it to our school--but this semester, since I'm on my own, so much is coming into focus to be questioned.

Thank you all.

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