A Guide for Students
Benefits for students
Smaller classes. Basic Writing Skills sections that participate in the project have eight fewer students than those not participating and Composition I courses have three fewer students.
Consistent writing standards throughout the higher education community of the region. When your portfolio passes, you can feel confident that the outcomes assessed in your writing are the very outcomes that Bridgewater State College, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College and Massachusetts Maritime Academy all value in for their first-year writing courses. (See the CONNECT Writing Project Rubric for more details.)
Free tutoring. Students whose portfolios do not pass the assessment receive free tutoring in order to revise and resubmit their portfolios in the next semester. Many students have remarked that this one-on-one tutoring with skilled faculty tutors has had a significant and positive effect on their writing, helping them to be more successful in future courses.
More practice with writing. Students whose portfolios do not pass the portfolio assessment but will earn a passing grade in the course when the portfolio is revised are encouraged to continue to their next writing course (English 101 or English 102). The program is designed to help students improve their writing, so the more opportunities you have to practice your writing skills, the better.
What you will submit:
- If you are in English 090, you are required to submit at least one essay and three other pieces of writing from the course. If you are in English 101, you will submit a research essay and three essays of your choice from the course. You will also sign a certification form stating that all of the work is yours and providing the committee with contact information.
- Most instructors require you to turn in two copies of the final draft of an assignment. He or she will keep these copies on file and return them to you during the final week of class. Then, in consultation with your instructor, you will assemble your portfolios.
- Incomplete portfolios will not be assessed. If your portfolio is not assessed, you will receive an “I” for the portfolio assessment. Late portfolios are reviewed within the first weeks of the next semester.
How your portfolio will be assessed:
- The portfolios are evaluated by a panel of faculty members from the English Department who will determine whether or not you have acquired the necessary writing skills to exit the class.
- The portfolio is evaluated with use of rubrics (or scoring criteria).
How you get your results:
- Students who pass are informed by their instructor that they earned a “pass” or a “pass with distinction.” (In fact, most students who submit portfolios pass the assessment. (In 2008, 96% of English 090 students and 79% of English 101 students who submitted portfolios passed. On average, at least 85% of students in the program tend to pass the first time their portfolios are assessed.)
- Portfolios that fail result in a Portfolio Incomplete (“I” grade) assuming the student will earn passing grade in the course when the portfolio is revised and evaluated.
- Failing portfolios are shown to students along with an evaluation form telling the student exactly which areas he or she needs to revise and in which essays. The portfolio is then given to the committee chairperson, as he or she will notify students by mail about how to set up tutoring and enroll in their next English course.
How to respond if your portfolio fails:
- If your portfolio fails, it simply means that faculty have noted one or two areas in your writing that could use improvement. The committee feels that with some tutoring from a skilled faculty member you will be able to focus on these issues, and this will improve your writing in future classes and writing situations. Helping you to be a better writer is the goal, so please take advantage of this opportunity to get free tutoring in an area you may be struggling in.
- You, or your instructor, have the right to resubmit the portfolio for appeal. This process will occur early in the next semester and requires that your portfolio be read by at least two other faculty members. If your portfolio passes on appeal, your course grade will be released right away.
- If your portfolio fails, you will receive a letter from the chairperson of the project as well as an override form allowing you to enroll in your next English course (English 101 or 102). In the letter, he or she will explain how and when to set up your tutoring schedule for the following semester.
- Begin work on your portfolio as soon as possible in the next semester. Once you have made all of the necessary revisions, the portfolios can be resubmitted for evaluation. (Three evaluation sessions are scheduled or each semester.)
- If you do not revise a failing portfolio, you run the risk of failing the class.