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History Capstone Portfolio

Context: History department at a large urban research university
Project scope and duration:  one-semester (the second of a two-semester capstone sequence)
Primary Purpose:  integrative learning and reflection with a focus on career and life preparation
Secondary Purpose: self-presentation (to support job seeking, application to graduate school, etc.)

Note:  This scenario is a fictionalized account of the portfolio activities used in the IUPUI English capstone experience.  The academic discipline was changed to history to take advantage of the Sakai OAE persona set.  Portfolio verbs are highlighted in green

Guided Portfolio (weeks 1-8)

Guided portfolio's play a central role in Jeff's capstone history class.  The class is designed to help graduating history majors prepare for life after college through a systematic examination of their acquired knowledge, skills, values, and goals. During the first eight weeks of the course, students engage in a series of related activities in which they are asked to select and reflect on examples of their prior work.  These activities are organized into a visual framework, a simple 2x3 matrix. Each cell in the matrix functions as a conceptual lens (described by the the row and column labels) for examining relationships among the knowledge and skills represented by the selected artifacts and the student's goals and identity as a professional, a life-long learner, and local/global citizen.   Jeff specifically chose the matrix framework for this activity because it helps students explore problems from multiple perspectives, resulting in more advanced reflective thinking and the integration of knowledge.

During the first week of class, Jeff introduces the portfolio assignment to class.  He uses a projector to show students what the portfolio looks like and provides an overview of what students are expected to do in each cell.  He then directs students to the course syllabus which provides the schedule for completing each activity.  The first is due at the end of the second week of classes.  By this time Jeff's students should have also completed the first draft of their capstone project, which was the focus of the first of the two-semester capstone sequence. 

Fatik is nervous about the portfolio assignment, because he's never been asked to write a reflection before, so he decides to get started early.  He opens the guided portfolio and locates the activity that's due next week, the first cell in the row labeled My Most Important PUL (*Principle of Undergraduate Learning - the  general education outcomes IUPUI) at and the column labeled *My Career (Professional).  He opens the cell and reads the guidance.  The instructions ask him to:  1) identify the Principle of Undergraduate Learning (PUL) that has been most important for in terms of preparing for his intended career; 2) upload several artifacts that document his ability to apply the selected PUL to his professional work, including the capstone draft; and 3) write a reflection about how his leaning experiences and the selected artifacts relate to whom he hopes to become as a professional. 

Fatik spends some time reviewing the PULs and their descriptions and selects the one he wants to write about.  He searches his personal content repository for some good examples. Since he's hoping to go to law school, he wants his selections to illustrate his evolution as a  persuasive writer and a critical thinker, so he looks for an essay he wrote his freshman year.  Unfortunately, the file he's looking for is attached to an assignment for a class that's been archived and he can't find another copy.  He wishes someone had encouraged him to collect and organize his work when he first started college.  Eventually Fatik finds the graded paper copy of the assignment in his files, so he goes to a student lab to scan it as a PDF.   He uploads the early work along with three pieces that represent his best most recent work-among them, the draft for his capstone project.  He also attaches  brief comment to each file that provides some background information on when and why it was created,  Then he reads the reflection prompt provided by his instructor-a series of open-ended questions designed to stimulate ideas and provide focus for writing his reflection. 

After Fatik completes a draft of his reflection, he shares his work with couple of his classmates and Jeff, his instructor, requesting their feedback.  Jeff receives a feedback invitation with a direct link to Fatik's cell.  He opens the cell and the attached work samples, and reads Fatik's reflection, which refer to specific passages in his artifacts.  Jeff adds some feedback to the cell with advice on how to improve his reflection.  When he saves the feedback, Fatik is notified immediately.  However, he decides to wait until he's received everyone's feedback before editing his reflection.

The day before the due date, Fatik submits his artifacts and reflection for evaluation by his instructor Jeff.  Once his work is submitted, it is locked and Fatik can no longer change his artifacts or selection.  The color of the cell changes to show that is has been submitted and awaits evaluation.  Jeff has opted to be notified whenever a student submits a portfolio assignment, so he receives and email message indicating that Fatik's cell is ready to be evaluated.  Jeff clicks a link in the notification to go directly to Fatik's submitted cell.  First Jeff evaluates the individual artifacts in the cell.  Then he turns to the evaluation area of the cell, which includes an analytic rubric for grading student reflections.  Using the rubric as a guide, he assesses Fatik's reflection on three  criteria and adds written comments.  When he saves Fatik's submission, Jeff is prompted to change the status of the cell to either complete the workflow or extend it by unlocking the cell and returning it to the student.  He marks the work as complete, which triggers a notification to Fatik.  Anxious to see his grade, Fatik clicks the link in the notification to open his portfolio activity.  He is accustomed to getting A's so he was a little disappointed with less than perfect scores for some of the rubric criteria, but Jeff's comments were very instructive, and he's confident that he'll be able to nail the next reflection activity in the portfolio.   Fatik continues working on his matrix assignments and refining his capstone paper for the next six weeks.

Showcase Portfolio (weeks 8-16)

In the past, Jeff required his students to develop a polished resume as graded a assignment.  However, his campus recently deployed a tool that allows students to create personal academic Web sites, so he's planning to incorporate the resume exercise into a larger project-the creation of a showcase portfolio that allows students to present and market themselves to prospective  employers and grad schools. Much of the content for the portfolio, he determines, can be drawn from the materials assembled and written for the guided portfolio experience during the first half of the course.

Rather than giving his students a blank canvas, Jeff decides to create a site template to serve as a starting point for the portfolio.  The template contains 5 required sections (Welcome, About Me, Resume, Work Showcase, and Senior Project), each of which may include one or more pages) and 2 optional sections that students can use in any way they choose.  Jeff adds prompts for the required sections in the template to guide students through the process of creating an engaging and appropriate narrative for each section.

To get started with his portfolio, Fatik opens a copy of the template and creates a new "Welcome" section.  He reads the section prompt and then begins to draft his Welcome page.  Since he's planning to provide a link to his portfolio in his law school applications, it's important for this and all sections of his portfolio to make a positive impression.  When he's finished, he adds a photo of himself to the page, but he hopes to be able to replace it with a video introduction before the end of the semester.  He saves the section, planning to return to it in a few days with fresh eyes.  Then he scans the prompts for the other required sections and starts selecting samples to incorporate into the Work Showcase section. 

A few weeks later, Fatik has added text, examples, images, and even videos to his showcase portfolio.  He also annotates each artifact so his audience will understand why he chose to include them.  Now he's ready for some feedback. But before sharing his portfolio, he decides to change the theme (which applies a common look and feel to all of the sections and pages).  After reviewing the available themes, he chooses one that incorporates the official campus logo and header and a traditional fint face.  As much as he would like to create his own theme, he feels a more conservative approach will better server his purpose of applying to law school.  Besides, once he finished the graded version of the portfolio, he can create new versions combining his existing pages with new ones to share with friends and family.   After Fatik saves the new them, he invites two of his classmates to view his portfolio and add constructive comments.


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