Overview: Your Final Exam Digital Writing Portfolio

What is a writing portfolio? 


Your writing portfolio is a compilation of student-selected work that showcases your writing abilities at the conclusion of the course. The portfolio is the result and reflection of the work you did throughout the semester. It allows you to demonstrate the process of inquiry and reflection; it also emphasizes the way a sentence is crafted, the way an essay is organized, and the way a writer explores an idea. At the conclusion of the semester, you should be more conscious of the writing and strategies that work best for you. This portfolio, then, allows your instructor to evaluate both the process of writing and the quality of the final product.


Because you are creating a digital portfolio, your instructor is not your only audience: you have a virtually limitless, world-wide audience as well.

Think about the types of readers who may visit  your blog, readers who are interested in knowing more about college writing and your experiences as  a student writer. How might future college writing students and college composition instructors benefit from reading your digital portfolio — complete with examples of pre-writing strategies, essays taken through multiple draft stages, and self-reflections on your writing process?


What goes into your Digital Writing Portfolio? 


The preface to the portfolio is a single post that introduces you and your portfolio to readers.

In the preface of your portfolio, you will respond to the following prompts:

  • Introduce yourself to readers. What would you like them to know about you: the college student?
  • Reflect on your writing habits at the start of the semester and examine the changes that have occurred by its conclusion. (To get you started, review your midterm.) What knowledge and skills have you gained? What are your strengths at the conclusion of this course? What parts of your writing process do you see as still needing work?
  • Identify the compositions you’ve chosen for the final exam and explain why (very specifically) you believe each selection is portfolio worthy.

The preface should be a well-developed, professionally written self-examination – but it is also a personal essay exploring your journey as a writer, allowing you to illustrate your unique style of thinking and writing.

The preface is an important part of your portfolio. It is the first text your  instructor will read and it can significantly influence how your portfolio is interpreted and assessed.

You don’t have to use a traditional essay format for writing; notice how I’m using block format on this page, rather than double-spaced paragraphs with first lines indented. You decide how to best organize and format it to make it reader-friendly. You may want to use a single-space, block format (as you did in your midterm), subheadings, strategic use of white space, and carefully selected images to break up text. However you choose to design your portfolio and format your writing, you’ll want to strike a balance between creative and be professional.


In an open-choice portfolio, while all of your work will be revised and polished this semester, I am allowing you to choose the final three projects that go into the portfolio.

These selections should reflect the variety of work you have done over the course of the semester. At minimum, the portfolio should demonstrate work in multiple genres and for multiple purposes through at least three selections.


Each writing project you select should include the following components:  

A. Evidence of the Writing Process 

Create one post that clearly demonstrates the process that led to your first draft. This could include one or more of the following from your writing journal:  brainstorm, sketch, proposal, survey questions, etc. You don’t have to show us your entire process, but gather and publish the most valuable evidence of your process.

B. Original Draft and Workshop Feedback

This is the draft you submitted to the writers’ workshop. In this post, you should also include 4-6 examples of the most helpful feedback you received from colleagues that informed your final draft. Explain why this feedback was particularly helpful.

C. Re-Revised Final Draft (edited, revised, expanded)

Published your final, re-revised essay. The final draft should incorporate the most useful suggestions from your colleagues and instructor. This includes changes to the development and organization of ideas, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and MLA format.

The final draft also presents an opportunity for you to develop the first draft more fully. Add details and description; provide additional examples to illustrate your argument.

If your project includes interviews, be sure to include signed consent forms in your portfolio.

D. Self-Reflection

Part 1: In your final post for each writing project, you will reflect on the changes you made in the final draft, and analyze the writing project. What are its greatest strengths? What makes this final draft successful? For example, did you seek to persuade a specific audience? Do you want readers to believe or do something by the time they finish reading? How did you accomplish these goals in the final draft?

Part 2: Explain how this project, through all of its stages, demonstrates some of our specific ENG 101 course competencies:

2.1 analyze and address the rhetorical situations within specific discourse communities.
2.2 compose for multiple purposes and multiple genres, including reflection, analysis, explanation, and persuasion.
2.3 use writing and reading for inquiry, discovery, critical thinking, and communication, and to integrate their own ideas with those of others to create new knowledge.
2.4 document their work using academic citation systems and formats.
2.5 engage in a recursive writing process, developing flexible strategies for generating ideas, revising, editing, and proofreading.
2.6 engage in and understand the collaborative and social aspects of writing.
2.7 use a variety of 21st Century online composing spaces technologies to address a range of audiences.
2.8 apply major grammatical conventions of Standard English meaningfully and accurately to written communication appropriate for college level.

How Should You Select the Writing for Your Portfolio?

So how do you choose writing samples for this portfolio? You’ll want to include compositions from this course that you believe they are your best work (or have the potential to be, with revision), but you want to be sure you can talk specifically about why they are your best work and what they show your instructor about what you’ve learned. For instance, do you want to show your growth, your success in using writing as inquiry, or what you’ve learned about crafting paragraphs or synthesizing others’ ideas with your own?

Choose writing that, with revision and polishing, will demonstrate the culmination of your literacy practices, both creative and critical (revision) processes.

How Will Your Portfolio be Assessed? 

The final exam is worth 40% of your course grade. Your portfolio will be assessed based on three categories: Reflection (metacognition), Processes, and Breadth (rhetorical knowledge). This means that portfolios should demonstrate:

  • Awareness that it usually takes multiple drafts to create and complete a successful composition
  • Ability to develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading
  • Engagement in the collaborative and social aspects of writing
  • Ability to critique their own work
  • Metacognition – ability to critically reflect on their own writing and learning
  • Ability to compose in multiple genres for varying purposes


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