The Final Portfolio

Note: These are the final instructions for assembling a final course portfolio for Professor McGuire’s Composition II course. It is references a number of writing assignments leading up to this final assembly of work. It is a college-level project.


To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.     — Ralf Waldo Emerson

Pulling Your Final Portfolio Together

By this time you should begin seriously assembling your portfolio. We’ve been writing a lot about various texts and and service/activism experiences this semester. We have been building something, from one reading to the next, one writing to the next, one experience to the next; we have been working towards something larger. As you drawn the reading and writing for this course to a close, think about how it will all come together as a scholarly project—that is, as a cohesive body of serious work. This is your final portfolio—a collection of polished work, which is due very very soon.

What’s the Point of the Portfolio?

The point of this portfolio project is to give you the experience of developing a serious body of scholarly work, to experience the challenges and benefits of engaging in a sustained and serious writing project, and to have the opportunity to significantly revise your writing and thinking on a subject.

What Should the Portfolio Contain?

This portfolio is the culmination of the entire course (just about). It should represent the best of the work you have produced this semester. Specifically, it should include revised, polished work for the all the major writing prompts given to you throughout the semester along with a master works cited section for the entire portfolio.

Your portfolio must include the following in this order:

  • An Introduction (the first half of the “Project #6: A Beginning and an End”)
  • Live? Die? Kill? (Project #1)
  • Service/Activist Guide to an Issue (Project #2)
  • A Letter to the Editor (Project #3)
  • A Critical Reflection of Service (Project #4)
  • Story of Service Ethnography (Project #5)
  • A Conclusion (the second half of the “Project #6: A Beginning and an End”)
  • A Complete Works Cited Area
NOTE: All sources must be properly cited and documented with both MLA in-text notes and a works cited area for each paper. Your portfolio will not be accepted as complete if this is not done. It’s that important. If you want, instead of having a separate works cited area for each piece, you can create one comprehensive works cited post for the entire collection of the final portfolio work. This should be the final piece of the portfolio packet.

How this Assignment Will Be Assessed

What you are putting together for this portfolio is not merely five papers. Rather, it is a larger body of related scholarly work–related chapters of a small book, if you will. I want you to keep this in mind. I truly believe, here, that the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts, so I will approach assessment in this manner. Your portfolio will be assessed/graded holistically. This means that there will be no minute breakdown of each component, but rather an overall assessment of the entire project. Keep in mind too, the terms of the grading contract we are using this semester. Most of the grade for the semester is based on the degree of your engagement in the course from the very beginning (again see the terms of the contract). For those who are “on track for the B,” you could possibly earn an A if your portfolio meets the “A” criteria for written work as outlined on the grading contract. Make sure, then, that as an entire project the work is strong, united, and complete. Some things I will specifically be looking for, as they are particular requirements of this project, are as follows:

The basic expectations that I have for average and acceptable work for this project are as follows:

  • All six pieces included.
  • Each portfolio piece fully addresses the assignment to which it is in response. All the requirements as described in each major assignment have been met. All feedback from the instructor and peers has been considered with particular attention given to areas where the writing may not have fully achieved the aims of the assignment.
  • Proper audience awareness is demonstrated in all of the work, writing for an audience broader than just the instructor and classmates. In other words, adequate context is provided in the work so that anyone reading it would be able to understand it without having been in the class or having read the work of the class. In the case of the audience/style project, the piece meets the needs of the selected and targeted audience.
  • A strong controlling idea (i.e. a thesis) for each piece in the portfolio as appropriate. The narrative/ethnographic work of the course will likely not have explicit theses, but they should have significance as all stories should. A clear sense of what it all means and why you are telling these stories and writing these works is clear to your reader.
  • A strong, creative opener and a resonating close for each of the portfolio pieces.
  • All sources used (from the class readings and beyond) are properly documented using both MLA in-text notes and a works cited page/area.
  • All pieces are fully developed, and the entire portfolio is a minimum total of 5000 words of polished writing (the equivalent of 20 printed pages).
  • A descriptive, creative, and interest-catching title for each of the pieces contained within the portfolio. None of the titles should be the following: the title of the assignment as given to you, the word “essay” or “paper” with a number after it, the title of something your read from the book, etc. Find your own title.

How should the portfolio be packaged?

The portfolio will be presented in hard copy form (i.e paper form). All elements of the portfolio should be typed in 10 to 12 point Times New Roman font and double-spaced. Assemble each of the required portfolio sections in the order in which they were assigned, keeping in mind that the last assigned piece is a bit different as the first part is an introduction to the overall portfolio and the second part of it is a conclusion. Each piece must be stapled and clearly labeled and titled. All the sections then must be held together with a single binder clip of appropriate size (so the pages don’t come loose). Place the entire bound packet into a pocket folder. On the cover of the pocket folder, write a title for your entire portfolio (this is important; come up with a good title, your name, and your course and section number. The last page (or pages)of the entire portfolio packet should be a single consolidated list of works cited for the entire project.

When is the portfolio due?

Consult the course schedule for a complete list of due dates.

SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE: Despite the value of the Final Portfolio the following holds true: The research component of this course, which is blended throughout the final portfolio work, is a state requirement. You cannot successfully complete this course without successfully completing the research component. Also, all major portfolio work must be completed in order to qualify to pass the course. It is also a state requirement that you write a minimum of 5,000 polished words (the equivalent of 20 pages) for this course. Any significant gaps in the Final Portfolio, will result in a grade of F for the course regardless of grade standing prior to the final portfolio submission. This is a Department rule in accordance with State mandates.