Chapter 1: Introductions

1.4. Introduction to the Course: Grading and the Portfolio


You will be graded on your process work, participation, and final products. In the past, students who have embraced the writing process and spent time revising, editing, and reflecting, earned high grades on his or her final draft.

Once you’ve outlined, drafted, edited, and submitted your essay, then I will grade it. I try to get essays back within two weeks or less and one of the first things you might notice on your essay are grading symbols. These symbols are meant to accomplish three things: 1) allow me to grade essays more quickly 2) provide quick feedback for almost each line of text 3) compliment students’ knowledge of symbols (e.g. emojis) in order to help them comprehend his or her grade.

I understand that it might take some time to recognize and understand my grading symbols so I have providing the following key:

Symbols for global level requirements
Positive Symbols Meaning
Great job
✓⁄ + Good job
🙂 Demonstrates improvement
! Interesting idea
Symbols for global level requirements
Negative symbols Meaning
. Deduction for grammar/mechanical/punctuation errors
✓⁄− Needs improvement
− or × Needs major revision and/or incorrect
🙁 Demonstrates a lack of revision
Symbols for Lower Level Requirements
Symbol Meaning
lol “Laughing out loud”, good job
Trans. Needs a transition or revise the transition
Circle around a word Change your “word choice”
c.s. Remove your “comma splice”
v.t. Correct your “verb tense” usage
inf. Revise your “informal” tone or language
sp. Correct your “spelling” error
conf. or ? Change your “confusing” sentence structure
awk. Revise “awkward” writing
X Take out

The Portfolio

Another component of the First-Year Writing Program is the Portfolio. This assignment reinforces process-driven pedagogy and helps you to reflect on your growth as a writer.

In the past, the First-Year Writing Program evaluated students’ success in ENG 100/101 by scoring a pass/fail essay exam; however, that is not longer the case. Instead, the program has shifted towards evaluative practices that focus on process and growth rather than product. This shift in assessment reflects work in the field of composition concerning best assessment practices and e-portfolios. Student ENG 101 portfolios will be created and collected as a physical document during the last week of classes. Portfolio assessment is supported by the CCCC executive committee “Electronic Portfolios: Principles and Practices” (2015) and their claim that as e-portfolios (and portfolios) become more established in higher education, “First-Year Composition will mostly serve as the course that introduces them to students” showcasing our important role in a “development that prioritize[es] students learning.”

Further, in the CCCC executive committee “Writing Assessment: Purpose Statement” (2014), they recommend assessment practices that do not simply assess one piece of writing and assert that “[i]deally, writing ability must be assessed by more than one piece of writing, in more than one genre, written on different occasions, for different audiences, and responded to and evaluated by multiple readers as part of a substantial and sustained writing process” illustrating that assessment should not be based on one essay/assignment; instead, a portfolio system will show that students have the ability to write for multiple contexts and will give assessors more insight to the growth of a student.

It is my belief that portfolio assessment reinforces the core concepts of our composition program that include, but are not limited to, incorporation of student-centered teaching practices, implementation of rhetorical concepts, strategies, and analysis, and individual instructor evaluation of student work based on process and revision rather than only final product. Further, in my ENG 100/101 course, students have the opportunity to increase the grade of an essay that originally received a failing grade (less than 70%).  To earn a higher grade, students must revise the content of the text to reflect the skills learning throughout the semester and the outcomes and goals listed on the syllabus rather than simply correcting mistakes. In this way, the portfolio not only reinforces reflection and revision but will also provide you with an opportunity to increase your grade. Also, the portfolio is based on helping students gain agency (or ownership) of his or her writing and writing processes. Remember, the portfolio is your work and it will reflect who you are as a writer and college student.

The Assignment

In all ENG 100/101 courses, the portfolio will make up 15% of a students grade and will include five components: 1) the graded version of an essay of the students’ choosing 2) a revised, portfolio version of that essay 3) the graded draft of the argumentative synthesis essay 4) a revised, portfolio version of the argumentative synthesis and 5) a reflective letter.

What follows are some important tips and considerations:

  • Students must keep all graded drafts of their essays throughout the semester.
  • The final argumentative synthesis essay will receive a “for now grade” during a one-on-one conference with your instructor. However, remember to save this draft, since it will be part of the final portfolio.
  • The final portfolio version of the argumentative synthesis should illustrate a student’s ability to independently revise his or her work.
  • Each revised essay will include highlighted changes that the student made from the original, graded/conference draft to the portfolio draft.