Students choosing the portfolio option for completion of their degree are required to develop a portfolio of selected work from their program, take a written comprehensive exam, and pass an oral defense of their portfolio and written comprehensive exam (with focus on the portfolio). (For more information about the written comprehensive exam, please see MARC Written Comprehensive Exam: Objectives and Procedures.) Students must include at least 10 pages of new work—work written specifically for the portfolio—and a reflective introduction. The reflective introduction must be a minimum of 3 pages and may count toward the 10 pages of new work. Other new work may include a teaching philosophy (if relevant), introductions to and reflections on individual pieces in the portfolio, revisions of previous work, etc. Students will work closely with their portfolio/exam committee to decide on what will constitute “new work” for the portfolio.
The portfolio provides you the opportunity to select and showcase your writing ability and “best work” in the program. The portfolio might also include written work that represents areas of expertise or interest you have developed while in the MARC program or “themes” that emerged when you examined your work as a whole. In addition, you will write a reflective introduction to the portfolio that demonstrates your ability to think carefully and critically about your work in the program.
Alan Purves explains the writing portfolio this way: “Think of the portfolio as a museum of you, or as your self portrait. It will show the world the variety of things you know, are interested in, puzzled or intrigued by; the variety of things you can do; and the variety of things you have done.” In other words, the portfolio represents an argument about you as a writer, your writing process, your journey through the MA program in Rhetoric and Composition, and the quality of your written work.
Students sign up for the portfolio course (ENG 5390: Independent Study) during their last semester in the program; however students should determine their portfolio committee in the semester prior to enrollment in ENG 5390: Independent Study. Portfolio/exam committees are made up of three graduate faculty: one director and two readers. The director and one of the readers must be graduate faculty in the MARC programs.
Students work closely with their committee to determine which writing projects should be included in the portfolio, as well as to write the reflective introduction and other new documents specifically for the portfolio. Students must observe the following requirements for inclusion of projects in the portfolio:
Reflective introductions should demonstrate your ability to think carefully and critically about your work in the program: What have you learned? How have you learned? What changes have occurred in your perspectives? Who are you as a learner, teacher, researcher, and writer now that you’ve completed your program? Your reflective introduction should also provide readers with a “map” of the portfolio itself. You should identify what documents readers will find in the actual portfolio, the order in which they will find these documents, and your rationale for organizing documents in this particular way.
The portfolio itself should be professional in appearance and easy for readers to use. You should place documents in some kind of binder and consider using dividers for individual pieces of writing. You should also provide readers with a table of contents, as well as a cover page for each document that includes the title of the document and brief description of who the document was written for, what class the document was written for, and when the document was written.
You will work closely with your committee to develop and revise the portfolio throughout the semester. You will then submit the final portfolios to committee members at least 1 ½ weeks before the scheduled oral defense (see details below). (Remember: you will also be writing your comprehensive exam during this same time as well. The oral defense cannot be held until you have submitted both the final portfolio and the written comprehensive exam.)
You are responsible for knowing and meeting deadlines associated with completion of MA comprehensive exams and application for graduation. Please consult the Graduate College website for information about these deadlines. Oral Defense
All students completing the thesis or portfolio options must schedule and pass a one-hour oral defense. The oral defense is designed to give students and their committee members the opportunity to discuss the students’ culminating project—the thesis or the portfolio and written comprehensive exam. While the oral defense of the portfolio and written comprehensive exam will focus primarily on the portfolio, students should be prepared to answer questions about their coursework in the program, as well as any additional questions committee members might have about the written comprehensive exam responses.
Students who choose the portfolio option for completion of their degree must, in addition to satisfying requirements for the portfolio, take and pass a written comprehensive exam. The written comprehensive exam will be comprised of three questions: two questions will cover core competencies in the program—rhetorical theory, composition theory, composition pedagogy, and research methods; the third question will cover the students’ area of specialization. Students will develop their own questions for the exam in consultation with their committees. Students will use the MARC Comprehensive Exam Reading List to develop two questions covering core competencies in the field. They will develop their own reading list for their area of specialization and develop one exam question covering this specialization. Students will take the exam at home over a 72-hour period.