Portfolio Cover Letter Assignment

Approaching the finish line

Background and Purpose

Consider what you have learned this semester, both explicitly through your reading and intrinsically through your work. Be sure to think about the benefits and challenges of rhetorical analysis. What skills does it bring to your toolkit? Then, consider how well you did with the outcomes of the course. What have you learned this semester, even if it wasn’t expected (by you or your instructor)? Your portfolio answers all these questions.

Step back from your assignments and look at the “big picture” of the course. Review the Course Syllabus to recall how your assignments were designed to fit together. Then, write a letter to your instructor asserting how well you achieved the course outcomes. The letter format affords more casual language than a traditional essay, but it constrains you to a smaller number of pages. Consider what you think is worth emphasizing about your experiences this term.

Objectives

  • Clarify and synthesize what you learned in this class
  • Support a claim about your own performance using evidence from your own writing
  • Illustrate your understanding of the course outcomes
  • Create a document that helps readers navigate a portfolio of work

Recommended Reading

For this assignment, you may wish to review the “Building a Portfolio” chapter of a textbook created by Saint Leo students for our Academic Writing program.

Procedure

  1. Brainstorm
    Review the course outcomes listed on the syllabus. Which of the outcomes have you accomplished this semester? What did you do this semester that proves you met those goals?
  2. Organize
    Find specific examples of each course outcome in the material you have created for this class.
  3. Write
    Draft a letter that explains how you met the outcomes and refers to the examples you came up with. This letter will be read by your instructor and possibly by a program assessment committee from the English department. In other words, your audience is familiar with the expectations of Rhetoric in Writing and the terminology used in the study of rhetoric. You should refer to the expectations and use the terminology, rather than taking time to define them.
  4. Revise
    Double-check your document organization and goals. Make sure you address each outcome and support yourself with specific, convincing evidence. If you claimed that this course or your instructor has completely changed your life or single-handedly made you the best writer on earth, please revise. This document is not designed to inflate your instructor’s ego or earn you an A. Instead, it exists to point out evidence that you’ve achieved the course’s goals. Stay focused.
  5. Compile
    Assemble all the supporting material to prove your case. At a minimum, you should include revised versions of all major assignments you have already completed (Plato and Abe Lincoln; Advertising Fallacies; Two Sides, Same Coin?; The King’s Speech; Rhetorical Analysis of the News; Remix Yourself; PSA Campaign). If any minor assignments or other material help illustrates you achieved the course outcomes, include them, as well.
  6. Include
    This Cover Letter is part of your Final Portfolio. Include it as a form of cover sheet, then add the material you compiled in the previous step.
  7. Relax
    Smile, knowing there’s nothing else you have to write for this class.

Evaluating Your Portfolio

Your task for this assignment is to write a letter to your instructor asserting how you have met the outcomes of this course. Take a broad view of the content and goals of the course. If you are able to address the course outcomes and support that claim with evidence from your writing, you will have done your job. Your work will be assessed using the evaluation criteria presented below.

QualityEvidence of OutcomesRhetorical Appropriateness
ExceptionalConnects outcomes to growth as a writer and progress in class with applications elsewherePresents a sophisticated, distinctive approach, navigating the rhetorical situation with skill
StrongShows how course outcomes have application beyond this classDemonstrates confident, appropriate response to the rhetorical situation
SuccessfulDemonstrates achievement of course outcomes through specific written samplesResponds properly to the rhetorical situation, aligning with assignment’s intended purpose
AttemptedLists (and possibly explains) outcomes, insufficient evidence of their achievementShows acknowledgement of the situation, though the response may be rough or inappropriate for the purpose
IncompleteFails to address course outcomes; is narrative, rather than persuasive, in natureDocument appears to be written for a rhetorical situation other than the one for which it was intended
Assessment Rubric for Final Portfolios

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