The Portfolio Project

“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance.”
- Alexander Pope

Welcome to the University of Georgia’s <emma> Writing Portfolio Project, in which your class will participate this semester. As Pope suggests in the quotation above, becoming a good writer is a matter of art, not chance. The Portfolio Project helps you develop into a proficient writer by offering you multiple opportunities to practice and demonstrate to others your mastery of writing as an art. In this class, students will write a minimum of four formal essays, to be graded in the traditional way, plus other pieces of writing assigned by the teacher. Part of each student’s course grade will also be determined by a portfolio of written work, produced online through the UGA English Department’s own <emma>, or Electronic Markup and Management Application. The portfolio will count as 30% of your final grade and will replace the Final Examination as the culminating measure of your achievement in ENGL 1101 this semester. For Spring 2009, portfolios must be completed by April 28th, 6 p.m. (TR) or April 30th, 6 p.m. (MWF).

For both students and teachers, portfolios offer many advantages over other forms of assessment. First--and probably most important, from the student’s point of view--writers gain more control over their writing and therefore over their grades. Instead of demonstrating your skill in a single essay, the final examination, you will create, select, revise and polish different pieces for the portfolio throughout the semester. Within boundaries established by the First-year Composition Program, you select the pieces to include in your portfolio; you will have opportunities to consult with your teacher and peers about the portfolio’s contents and to revise those pieces you choose to include; finally, you will have an opportunity to explain the merits of your portfolio as part of the assessment process. For the same reasons, teachers also like this method of evaluation: including portfolios in writing assessment allows them to focus on revision, on improvement, and on a process of collaboration among student, teacher, and peers.

When you have completed this course, your <emma> Writing Portfolio will provide you with a readily accessible collection of your writing that can continually grow and change shape, reflecting your achievements in your academic major and, eventually, forming the basis of a professional portfolio that can accompany you as you leave the University of Georgia for a further world of work or study.

What is an <emma> Writing Portfolio?

            As stated in the FYC Handbook, students in First-year Composition write a minimum of five essays. For the Portfolio Project, you will write four essays that will be graded in the normal way, and also submit for evaluation an electronic portfolio, produced through <emma>, that includes the following items: 

A biography of the portfolio author and, if you like, a picture of yourself or other image.

Reflective Introduction to the portfolio. This is a one-to-two page “letter” (ca. 1000-2000 words) or “memo” that serves as a guide to readers of your portfolio. In the introduction, you will explain your choices and the logic of the order of your writing exhibits.

Two of the four essays written for this class (ca. 750-1500 words), thoroughly revised, edited, and polished. These pieces provide evidence of your best critical thinking, argumentative strategies, prose style, and editing skills. They represent your most “finished” pieces of writing;

One exhibit of writing that demonstrates your composing process and revision skills. For this exhibit, you may present a shorter piece of writing or even a portion of a paper (e.g., the thesis statement); you may also want to demonstrate the development of this piece of writing through several drafts. Your task is to demonstrate improvement and to explain to your readers the process of revision. This entry should consist of an explanation of about 250-500 words, plus the text you use as evidence;

One example of peer review, or a comparable activity that demonstrates your work in reviewing or responding to the work of other writers. Again, your task is to demonstrate the quality of your work and to explain your peer review process. This entry should consist of an explanation of about 250-500 words, plus the text you use as evidence;

One “wild card” submission. For this piece, you may choose any piece of “writing,” broadly construed, from this class that shows your “creative” or “exploratory” side as a writer. You might, for instance, include a brainstorming activity, a journal entry, or a visual exercise.

How do I construct an <emma> Writing Portfolio?

            Your class will be using <emma> regularly to submit, respond to, and revise work done for this class. For this reason, all the materials to be included in your portfolio will be readily available through <emma>. When you are ready to construct your porfolio, you simple click the "Add to Portfolio" link next to the document you wish to include in the portfolio. It’s easy! You can learn more about <emma> at the <emma> website (

How are <emma> Writing Portfolios evaluated?

            At the end of the semester, instead of taking a three-hour essay examination, you will finish and submit your portfolio for final evaluation. Teachers involved in the portfolio project are divided into teams of four. After the teams ensure that they are grading by comparable standards, each portfolio is graded holistically (as a complete project) by your own teacher and another reader from the group. If there is a significant discrepancy between the ratings of these two readers, a third reader will evaluate the portfolio.

8/15/2004; revised 8/17/2007

Christy Desmet