Building Your Portfolio

The Portfolio Project is designed to demonstrate your understanding of each learning outcome as it relates to your own learning. In order to do that, you will need to develop an argument about these outcomes using your previous writing in this class as evidence of your points.

Your portfolio should include:

  • At least two major assignments (Rhetorical Analysis, I-Search,  Research Project) and two minor assignments (responses, “About Me” page, annotated bibliography) in your portfolio. Use these assignments as the basis for making claims in your reflective argument about what you’ve accomplished.
  • Reflective Argument which provides:

Specific claims about how well you’ve accomplished the first three learning outcomes (Read, Write, Research)  and what you achieved; cite evidence from your earlier work by summarizing, quoting, and/or paraphrasing; and analyze the evidence you’ve cited to explain what it demonstrates about your accomplishments.

Example: To show how you have grown as a writer, you may wish to discuss how revisions were made from rough to final draft, or from assignment to assignment, based on peer and/or instructor feedback.

Explanation of how the learning outcomes improved your skills and influenced your writing decisions. The emphasis in learning outcome four is on explaining as specifically as you can 1) what skills you’ve gained or improved and 2) predicting where and how you can apply these skills in future writing situations.

As you select and discuss portions of your work to build your reflective argument, you will hyperlink your quotes, paraphrases, or references to the original portions of your past papers.

Every time you refer to a section of your text (even when you quote a section directly), you should add a link in your text. Please view and print these instructions for creating bookmarks and hyperlinks for reference.

Your links should be named according to the learning outcome number and letters for each evidence you discuss (e.g. Outcome1a, 1b, 2a, 2b etc. or LO1a, LO1b, LO2a, etc). The purpose here is to facilitate the reading and grading of your work without having to scroll through the entire portfolio every time.

Your finished document should be a Portfolio Argument paper full of “internet-like” links followed by your selected past work with tons of (different colored) highlights.

Building the Argument

This week, you should begin coding and analyzing the pieces of your past work you will use as evidence of your arguments in the paper. The portfolio must contain a minimum of 2 major writing assignments and 2 minor writing tasks.

Your first step is to gather the selected pieces into a single file.  Title this file “11588_accessID_1020F2014”.  Email this file to me by 4pm Tuesday, Dec. 4. Replace “accessID” with your actual accessID (two letters followed by four numbers; mine would be ba9104).

You will proceed to make selections in the best way possible.  Start with the following steps:

1.Review the instructions Reflective Argument and Portfolio Project

2. Note key terms that describe what evidence you will need to provide to show your level of achievement of each of the four learning outcomes;

3.  Use different colors for each outcome to highlight the portions of each text you’ll use to show achievement of the outcomes. Take the time to  instructions for creating bookmarks and hyperlinks each of them (marking them as Outcome1a, Outcome1b, and so on).

4.  For each highlighted area, make notes on how it provides evidence of your application, success or hard work towards a learning outcome.  Use the comments feature found under the “Review” Tab of MS-Word;

5.      Come up with a topic sentence that offers your claim about this learning outcome (this ideally will be the transition sentence between your intro and your first paragraph).  Place it in a comment or on a new page.

    6.     Repeat those steps for the next learning outcome. The idea is to develop an analysis and commentary for each piece of evidence (you can add more later as you build your essay) and end up with four topic sentences (one for each transition between outcomes)

7.     Once you have all those sentences, look over your notes and topic sentences and come up with a thesis that reflects an overall argument about them. It’s likely that we won’t have time to do this today, but you should do it home.  It’s not a good idea to start with a thesis because your thesis should accurately reflect your arguments about each outcome.

Stick to these notes or outline to keep yourself organized and your essay cohesive. The topic sentences and thesis should keep in check the fact that you are making an argument (discussing and analyzing), and not just listing your skills. Remember, you should address the “why and how” (why you chose that strategy you’re quoting or paraphrasing, and how it works or failed to fully work in your paper) for each piece of evidence, so starting with too many can be overwhelming. Once you have the key pieces and a central argument, it will be easier to make more selections as you find necessary.

Email your file titled “11588_accessID_1020F2014” by 4 pm Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Post your portfolio file to SafeAssign via Blackboard by 11:59 pm Sunday, December 7.

Reflective Argument

Before launching into a description of the Reflective Argument, Project Five, let’s take a moment to reflect on Project Four.  First, however, pat yourselves or each other on the back. Well done!

Post Project Reflection

Post to your blog a short reflection on the following:

  • To what extent are you satisfied (or not) with your group’s final draft? What, if anything, do you feel your group overlooked?
  • To what extent do you feel that you could have completed the work performed by the group as a whole by yourself? What were some advantages and disadvantages of working with a group
  • How do you feel you have changed as a reader, writer, and researcher after completing the project? What skills do you feel you have gained from working on this project?
  • Do you foresee a need for these skill outside of this classroom?

Enough Reflecting.  On to the Reflection!


Read Project Five description and this highly-developed 1020 reflection.

Write a Post Research Project Reflection on your blog (@ 200-300 words). Respond to the following:

To what extent are you satisfied (or not) with your group’s final draft? What, if anything, do you feel your group overlooked?

To what extent do you feel that you could have completed the work performed by the group as a whole by yourself? What were some advantages and disadvantages of working with a group

How do you feel you have changed as a reader, writer, and researcher after completing the project? What skills do you feel you have gained from working on this project?

Do you foresee a need for these skill outside of this classroom?

Collect your evidence (everything you have written this semester) onto your blog.  This includes typing handwritten in-class reflections as blog posts and posting copies of all four major projects.

Wrapping up your Research

In the proposal portion of your project, you’re going to develop reasons for the proposal as well as a discussion of the logistics of implementing the proposal.

Following the format of these Detroit Free Press editorial posts from 2009, you will outline the proposal, why it’s beneficial, how it will be implemented, what the obstacles are, how you’ll address these obstacles (or a refutation of them), and why the audience should take action.

Each of these parts of the proposal may be a paragraph or more. In each paragraph, you should have a topic sentence (the main idea of the paragraph) and reasons and evidence to support the idea of the paragraph.

When you look at your evidence, ask yourself, is it relevant? Is it sufficient?

In the Wayne Writer, the authors outline the value of relevant and sufficient evidence, evidence that will cause your audience to find your argument persuasive. They write,

Relevance refers to the appropriateness of the evidence to the case at hand. Some kinds of evidence are seen as more relevant than others for particular audiences. On the one hand, in science and industry, personal testimony is seen as having limited relevance, while experimental procedures and controlled observations have far more credibility…on the other hand, in writing to the general public on controversial issues such as gun control, personal experience is often considered more relevant than other kinds of data” (149).

Guiding Questions:

Who is your audience? What kind of evidence will they find most convincing? Why?

The authors of the chapter in the Wayne Writer go on to write about sufficiency, “the amount of evidence cited” (149). One piece of evidence might be enough if it is “especially compelling”; however, sometimes personal experiences and hard data need to work together to provide sufficient evidence (149-150).

Let’s practice on this sample.

Finish Project Four.  Each group member should post the final product to their blog.  Nominate one group member to upload the document to SafeAssign by 11:59 pm tonight.
Review all of your short blog posts and major writing assignments.  Cut and paste essays submitted for Projects One, Two, and Three onto your blog if you have not already done so.
Read Reflective Writing and the Revision Process
and What Students Say

Research Project Presentations and Workshop

One thing that will greatly influence the tone and style of your essay is the intended audience.

In your proposal argument, you want to convince your audience to take action. Your thesis, which should appear at the end of your introduction paragraph(s), describes that action. The body of the essay lays out the reasons for and logistics of that action. Later, in your conclusion, you will reinforce that action.

The first step is to know is who your target audience. This  will help you focus your research, your rhetorical appeals, and the direction of your essay.

Who are you trying to convince to take action? Who has the power to actually make this change? That “who” is your audience.

In your introduction, you need to do a few things to address your audience:

  • Through your identification of relevant details of the discourse community and your discussion of your stake in that community, you will establish your ethos (credibility) as writers.
  • Through your discussion of the issue (What is the problem? Why is it a problem? What have others written or said or done about this problem?) you will show your audience what YOU know about the issue/need and will also bring them up to speed on the discussion at hand.
  • Through your thesis, you will indicate, in a nutshell, what your solution is and why it is important.

Take a look at a sample introduction from last semester. In the intro, the student writers indicate that they plan to write a proposal to the Chipotle corporate office. Thus, as it is written now, the audience is their peers. How would you revise this introduction if the audience was the Chipotle corporate office?

chipotle essay intro that needs to be revised.


Read: Revising by Reading Aloud

Write Project Four! Post work-in-progress to blogs before class on Tuesday.




Creating Work-in-Progress Presentations




For Thursday, November 13, prepare a presentation of work completed to date on your research projects.

As these are works-in-progress, bear in mind two important things:

  1. I don’t expect you to have finished the entire project;
  2. Even when you do finish the project, I don’t expect you to have all the “answers” or “solutions”.

Much like the I-Search, the purpose of this project is to determine how well you find and utilize information, how well you synthesize information from multiple sources, and how well you integrate material from other sources into your writing.   On a side-note, you should aim to only have 10-15% quoted or paraphrased material in your final product.  I am looking to see how well you engage with material and use it to propel your thoughts forward.

Tonight, work with your group mates to develop a 5-10 minute presentation on your progress.  It should have a minimum of 5 slides with no more than 10-12 words per slide.  I want you to discuss your project, not read from the screen.  Each group member should have a role in the presentation.  (Yes, this includes “mouse clicker” and “handout distributer/collector”)

You may organize your presentation anyway you seem fit.  Below are some suggestions:

  • Use the outline I provided (it has 5 sections!);
  • Do a sales pitch. Introduce your research issue, explain why you’re interested in it, explain why you’re qualified to discuss it, highlight intriguing elements;
  • Public Service Announcement.   In a rhetorically rich manner, explain why the class should care about your issue.

Regardless of how you build your presentation, it should highlight your successes and include a plea for help.  Actively seek feedback in some manner (direct questioning, survey, etc) on any one (or more) element of your project with which you are struggling. Consider using handouts.

Collectively, we shall help each group come up with new ideas!






Homework: Finish presentation. Continue working on Project Four.



Evaluations and Proposals


Building Evaluations

What we have to work with:

  • Criteria for Evaluations–Practical, Aesthetic, Ethical
  • Templates for constructing an argument
    • e.g. “X is (not) a good Y because it (fails to) meet(s) criteria P, A, E.”
  • Evaluation arguments are focused on judgments (this is how you should feel about something).  Evaluations focus on whether or not a particular thing “is” problematic (or good or bad) and often what positive or negative consequences occur from this phenomena.  two-thumbs-up
  • Evaluation arguments usually proceed through a strategy of matching components of the evaluated item to specific criteria.  Typically, we put evaluative critieria into one of three categories:
    • Ethical–“right or wrong” “moral” “proper”
    • Aesthetic–“appealing to the senses” “artistic” “captures the spirit”
    • Practical–“beneficial” “economical” “realistic”
  • Evaluation Arguments must be made using practical, ethical or aesthetic criteria.  In other words, it follows the structure “X is (not) a good Y because it (fails to) meet(s) criteria A, E, P.” Otherwise, it’s simply a statement of your opinion with no sound reasoning behind it such as…

Kanye West, Taylor Swift


  • Pick an item to be evaluated
  • Find out the stakes involved in the claim (is this evaluation controversial and/or interesting to others? Who would be opposed to this evaluation and why?)
  • Develop criteria for evaluating that item (what makes it good or bad? which are most important? which are obvious and which ones do you have to argue for? Which are most likely to impact your audience?)


Google Maps is the best mapping program because it is easy to use, it is accurate, and it provides entertaining and educational features such as Google Earth.


astronautRecently, NASA decided to end the space shuttle program.  However, NASA will continue to send humans into space and are researching new vehicles for the purpose.  Since the beginning of the space program, the issue  of whether or not manned space flight is a necessary risk has been a guiding question for NASA as well as its detractors. How can we evaluate whether or not this is a good policy?

  • Practical:
    • Space travel enhances scientific knowledge and many technological benefits have resulted from the research done in this objective. (Pro)
    • We can more cheaply send robots instead of humans. (Con)
  • Aesthetic
    • Space travel is essential to the way we understand ourselves as humans; mtv-moon-astronaut-moonman-flag-300x192US astronauts in space is an indelible American cultural image; popular culture (e.g. MTV) has adopted space pioneers as heroes. (Pro)
    • The very public loss of life due to space disasters can be harmful to our national psyche. (Con)
  • Ethical:
    • Much of space exploration undertaken benefits, directly, human life on earth. (Pro)
    • The huge expenditure required for human space travel would be better used elsewhere.  Human life is endangered by space travel. (Con)

 Weighting Criteria:

Often, as in the space travel example above, there will be both positive and negative conclusions based on your criteria.  After all, if there were *only* good or *only* bad consequences from an action, we probably wouldn’t have to bother doing a formal evaluation.  Therefore, we need to analyze both sides of any topic.


Once you have evaluated a situation or problem and discussed the ramification of the issue for stakeholders, you are ready to move on and propose a solution.


Much like evaluations, proposals are created based on specific criteria and follow a basic structure responding to your claim that “We should (should not) do X.” Proposals are typically arranged in a three part structure:

1. Convincing the audience that a problem exists

e.g. “Economic decline has demoralized the residents of Detroit.”

2. Showing the particulars of your proposal (your solution to the problem)

e.g. “Therefore, we should build a statue of RoboCop…”


3. Justifying why your proposal should be enacted (that your proposal is feasible and will have positive outcomes).

e.g. “…which can be financed by private donations.  This should be done because it will spur tourist interest in the city as well as honor Detroit’s emerging role in film culture.”



Is the real challenge convincing your audience that a problem exists or is it convincing them of a viable solution to a problem they already know exists?

  • Prioritizing the Problem: Depending on the particulars of your topic, one or more of these items may be prioritized over the others. For instance, if you are proposing a fairly straightforward change that requires little detail – say, convincing an audience to ban stem cell research – you might spend the majority of its times on item one (convincing the audience that stem cell research is a problem), with items two (it should be banned entirely in the US) and three (negative consequences if the ban is not enacted) relegated to the final few paragraphs.
  • Prioritizing the Solution: Conversely, often your proposal might be addressing what the majority (if not all) of your audience will agree is a problem; in this case, the challenge is providing a viable solution (if the finding the solution is not a problem, presumably the problem would have already been solved). For instance, most WSU students would agree that parking on campus is a problem; however, providing a feasible solution to this problem is difficult.

The Outline:

  1. Introduction with a nice hook enticing the reader.   Introduction should state:
    1. If you choose to write to a specific audience, say, legislature, you must state the nature of the audience
    2. Issue/problem at hand
    3. Your thesis as the form of a proposal responding to that issue. “We should (not) do X.”
  2. The Stakes–Convincing the audience a problem exists.  In this section, you will evaluate the issue.
    1. What is the problem? Use Practical, Ethical, or Aesthetic criteria to describe the issue
      1. What are the negative consequences?
      2. What is the extent of the problem?
      3. Define any terms that arise which may be controversial.
    2. Who are the stakeholders? Who is affected? Who stands to be affected next?
    3. Is there an end/relief in sight?
  3. The particulars of your proposal.  In this section, you may have to define terms or concepts with which your audience may not be familiar.  All aspects of your proposal needs to be discussed in detail and may include the following:
    1. What is required to enact your proposal? (a new law, money, willingness to change, etc.)
    2. Feasibility of your solution.  Much like Practical Criteria of Evaluations
    3. Positive benefits of your solution discussed using Practical, Ethical, or Aesthetic criteria
  4. Justification of your solution.  Any one or all of the following may apply.  Your task is to discuss them and show why your proposal is superior.
    1. Counterarguments may arise as to whether or not your issue is even a problem.
    2. Your solution may be controversial to enact.
    3. It may have unintended negative effects.
    4. Alternative solutions may have been suggested.
  5. Conclusion.  Like all good conclusions, wrap up the paper.  Restate (not word-for-word) the issue and proposal. Make a final push to persuade.

Homework: Read your research. Begin drafting sections of the essay.  Rough Draft in class by Tuesday, November 13.

Write: On your blogs, please post by Thursday, 11/6, a response (of no more than 300 words) to the following:

How do you view yourself as a researcher? How has this changed over the semester?  What do you view as your role within your group? How is this beneficial to the group as a whole? How have your experiences with collaborative writing in this class differ from other experiences you may have had working with a group?