Introduction to the FYS Portfolio Assignment

Toward the end of the fall term, all FYS students submit portfolios for evaluation. Each portfolio will be read by at least three faculty: the instructor and two "outside" readers. One reader will be chosen by your FYS instructor; the second reader will be another FYS instructor. Each faculty reader scores your portfolio on a six-point scale and provides written comments. This triple reading of each portfolio increases the opportunities for students to receive beneficial responses to their work. Sharing of portfolios among faculty also helps ensure that grading practices among different sections remain fair and equitable.


Submission Guidelines

Full-Length Sample Portfolios

Full-length Sample Prefaces

Portfolio Excerpts

Scoring Guidelines

Why Portfolios?

Coe is among a small minority of colleges which do not require freshman composition courses. Instead our composition instruction is handled through a Writing-Across-the-Curriculum (WAC) program, which involves faculty from all departments on campus. Each year Coe's faculty offers over 200 Writing Emphasis courses, as well as assign composition tasks in courses that do not meet Writing Emphasis criteria. The First-Year Seminars insure all first-year students are enrolled in at least one writing emphasis course during their initial semester at Coe. The portfolio assignment plays both an instructional and evaluative role in these seminars. It offers the opportunity for revisions, encouraging students  to reconsider and rework their compositions, a process critical in the development of strong writing skills. The portfolio assignment also enables students to discover how well their first-term compositions meet the faculty's expectations of quality.

More than just a grade...

While portfolio evaluations do not necessarily govern the final grade in a course (each instructor decides what factors determine the course grade), having multiple readers helps instructors see how their evaluations compare with other faculty. Each year the Writing Committee distributes several hundred dollars in Coe Book Store Gift Certificates to first-year students who have submitted portfolios of unusually high quality. You should also be aware that if your portfolio receives a composite score of 7 or below (out of a possible 12 points), you are expected to discuss the implications of the score with your instructor. To ensure that your writing meets college standards, you may be asked to choose one or more of the following options:

  • Enrol in a course focused on writing, such as a Seminar in Writing or Writers' Studio.
  • Develop a plan to improve writing skills while completing appropriate Writing Emphasis courses in the Spring and/or May Terms.
  • Accept of an "Incomplete" or "X" grade for your FYS section until you submit a satisfactorily revised portfolio.

And finally...

The FYS portfolio assignment provides you with an excellent occasion for thinking seriously about your writing--and gaining assistance with your compositions from a college community seriously committed to the value of written expression. The Writing Committee encourages all students to full advantage of this opportunity.



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E-mail Dr. Bob Marrs with any questions, comments or suggestions.