Writing Portfolios for Writing Placement and College Writing Proficiency

Who can submit a portfolio?

      Students who have attempted to demonstrate College Writing Proficiency in English 105 but have failed to achieve it, as well as transfer students and incoming freshmen who are assigned a "WAC/PORT" placement by the Writing Program after completing the Writing Placement Essay, may attempt to demonstrate that they can write proficiently by submitting a writing portfolio. Also, students who wish to protest their placement after writing the Writing Placement Essay may submit portfolios.  Students placed in English 104 who will achieve an A or an A-, and whose instructors believe they are qualified, also may ask their instructors to submit a portfolio on their behalf in December.  No portfolios from English 104 students will be accepted unless they have been submitted by the students' English 104 instructors.

        The Academic Policies Committee has ruled that, as of September 2009, seniors may no longer submit portfolios to demonstrate College Writing Proficiency.  Students who will be rising seniors in May must submit portfolios by June 15, and students who will be rising seniors in December must submit their portfolios by December 15.  Otherwise, these students must register for English 106 or, if appropriate, for a WAC course whose instructor explicitly agrees in writing to evaluate their work for CWP.  Failure to deal with this fundamental general education requirement will prevent students from graduating. 

What should the portfolio contain?

        Students should prepare a portfolio of three non-fiction prose papers they have written at Goucher or at their previous institution (high school or college), and a clearly worded request explaining their situation. That information should include the students' class rank, advisor, semesters until intended graduation, reason for not meeting the requirement in other ways.  Students also may edit the papers before submitting the portfolio, but no outside editorial assistance may be used beyond sessions with Goucher College Writing Center tutors who are trained to maintain the author's control over the text.  The message body of the email also must describe the terms of the assignment that led to each of the papers or, ideally, it should contain a copy of the instructor's written instructions for each paper.  At least one of the papers must demonstrate the student's ability to perform independent research using scholarly sources, documenting the results in any format that is appropriate to the content (MLA, APA, CBE, U. Chicago, etc.). English 104 students requesting exemption from English 105 must submit papers written while studying at Goucher, but they may satisfy the independent scholarly research criterion using a paper written for another Goucher course.

        These three papers should be representative of the best writing the student can produce, and students should take into account the specific criteria for CWP which are on a page hyperlinked at the bottom of this posting.  Make sure all bibliographic documentation of sources is included in the format appropriate to the department for which the paper was written (APA, MLA, etc).  Also, no small part of becoming a good writer involves carefully predicting and supplying what the reader needs to know. The way students participate in this portfolio process tells us a lot about how well they handle deadlines, content requirements, and other communications habits that advanced writing students generally have mastered. Although students with questions about the criteria listed below are encouraged to contact the Writing Program for assistance, they should realize that writers who are ready to pass Goucher's CWP requirement with a portfolio typically already are familiar with the terms and issues involved.  

To whom should the portfolio be submitted?

        Portfolios should be emailed as attached MS-Word or Rich Text Format files to Michelle Tokarczyk, Writing Program Director, at this email address: michelle.tokarczyk[at]goucher.edu (replacing "[at]" with the @ sign).  Portfolios sent to anyone else at Goucher College may be lost or indefinitely delayed in processing. 

By what criteria will the portfolios be evaluated?

       Papers submitted to demonstrate College Writing Proficiency must meet the criteria for College Writing Proficiency.  Those criteria were developed after extensive surveys of and interviews with Goucher faculty, and the criteria correspond to the traits those faculty expected of proficient writers in their 200- and 300-level courses.  Individual departments also have their own Writing Proficiency in the Major (WPM) requirements which majors must meet before graduation.  Students should contact their major advisers for information about WPM. 

        Papers in these portfolios will be read differently if they are attempting to challenge a Writing Placement Essay decision rather than trying to demonstrate College Writing Proficiency (CWP).  In the former instance, students need not demonstrate the ability to do college level research in scholarly sources on a topic independently chosen and arguing an independent thesis.  The readers will be scoring the essays in comparison with writing typically expected of students admitted to our three levels of freshman composition and intermediate composition for transfer students.  Portfolios which score above those levels of proficiency will be given a "WAC/PORT" score, indicating that the writer should take a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) course or submit a second portfolio after the first semester in residence to demonstrate those additional skills necessary to incorporate scholarly research into the paper.

        By submitting a portfolio to meet this academic requirement for graduation, you automatically are assumed to be claiming all work in the portfolio is your own, unless it is otherwise indicated by use of appropriate source citation.  This extends to borrowing of abstract ideas that are uniquely a source's intellectual property, as well as borrowing of images, data-displays, web-based applications, and specific notable words, phrases, or longer passages that ordinarily would be understood to belong to other sources.  If you are in doubt about whether you are citing borrowed material properly, consult the Academic Honor Code on the Goucher College web site.  Portfolios which violate the Honor Code will not pass, and they also will result in charges being brought according to the provisions of the Academic Honor Code.