ENG 12 Collaborative Portfolio Assessment (CPA)

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Collaborative Portfolio Assessment (CPA)

Background and Overview of Portfolios in English 12

English 12 is the first half of the required 2-semester Composition sequence at Kingsborough, and, as such, it occupies a prominent place in the educational experience of all Kingsborough students.  For well over a decade, students had completed their experience in English 12 by taking a common, departmental writing exam.  Several faculty members were dissatisfied with the timed exam and expressed a strong desire for a more communal, shared system of final assessment that would provide more substantial and useful feedback for students and teachers.  In the Summer of 2009, a group of full-time faculty met voluntarily to craft a system of portfolio assessment that would better meet our needs as educators and our students’ needs as learners.  Fourteen faculty met in the Summer of 2015 to reconsider and revise the original policies and practices with an eye to sparking more interest among other faculty who teach English 12 regularly.  We created the current system of collaborative portfolio assessment with these goals in mind:

  • to provide students and teachers with clear, shared criteria for passing English 12;
  • to offer greater support to teachers in making final assessments of their students’ performance;
  • to make judgments of passing and failing English 12 collaborative judgments based on the perspectives of more than one instructor;
  • to incentivize students to take revision seriously as they prepare their final portfolios;
  • to bring more collaboration and social interaction to the experience of teaching English 12; we believe this makes teaching a more pleasant and rewarding profession.

The collaborative portfolio system in English 12 has been in place since the Fall of 2009.  Since Fall 2010, it has been mandatory for all new faculty teaching English 12–serving as a form of course-specific mentoring–and remains voluntary for all other faculty. It is independent from the Course Review Committee (CRC), but faculty are welcome to volunteer to serve on the CRC while also participating in collaborative portfolio assessment.

In creating our method for collaborative assessment, we have striven to keep things simple.  We divide faculty into small teams of no more than 4 faculty members, and we ask that these teams meet twice during the course of the semester: at least one meeting before midterm to share your approach to teaching Eng 12 and your plans for the Capstone project, and another meeting at the end of the term to discuss your assessments of each others’ students’ portfolios.

Here’s a breakdown of how the final assessment process works:

  • Team members schedule a meeting early in the semester to share syllabi, course calendars, and major assignments for Eng 12.  Everyone should share their plans for the Capstone assignment, as well as any questions and concerns they have about the course.  The goal of this sharing is to make each faculty’s approach to the course explicit and to provide an opportunity for faculty to support each other in the early weeks of the course.  In addition, at this meeting faculty should review the Final Portfolio Assessment Criteria document and should discuss their thoughts and feelings about the criteria listed here.
  • On or around the last day of class, partners exchange their students’ portfolios for assessment.  It’s important that all members agree upon and commit to this date since it is vital that faculty have adequate time to read and respond to the portfolios.
  • Group members read students’ portfolios, completing feedback forms for any that they think should fail English 12.  Please note that instructors needn’t do anything for portfolios that are clearly passing.
  • Teams meets to exchange assessed portfolios, to discuss the assessments that have been made, and to handle any appeals.  If one member disagrees with the initial assessment of a student’s portfolio, one of the other teachers will act as a “second reader” and provide their honest assessment.  If two instructors concur on an assessment, it should stand.  Please note that appeals should be handled by the faculty in an assessment group and should not be submitted to the directors of the Composition program for review.  Please note that failing the portfolio means failing the course.
  • During Kingsborough’s finals week, instructors set up a two-hour window during which time they can return portfolios to students and hold conferences with students who failed this process.  This can be in an office, in the cafeteria, or in any other on-campus space that will work well for this purpose.

Participants in portfolio assessment (who are not teaching an ALP section or in the CRC) are paid as follows: part-time instructors receive 6 hours of pay at their non-teaching rate, full-time instructors receive .25 credits toward their annual course load.

Creating and Exchanging Portfolios during Remote Teaching

How you manage the portfolio exchange when teaching online is also something you should decide in your cohorts. Here are some approaches for sharing portfolios with your group members at the end of the semester. 

  1. Google Drive: Each student creates a folder that includes their drafted assignments.  Folders could be shared with members of your group.
  2. Dropbox:  Similar to Google Drive, each student would share a file folder with their drafted work.
  3. Google sites: Students could create individual google sites and then share those with the instructor and outside reader OR instructors could create a class google site with individual pages for each student.  
  4. Granting Blackboard access: Each group member would be given access on Blackboard to their other members of the groups. Faculty would look in the gradebook to find students’ assignments. Here’s a link to a little video to help you give other instructors access to your course. 
  5. Blackboard portfolios: Students create portfolios of their assignments to be shared with the reader. Annie will be creating a Blackboard module with instructions for students on creating a Blackboard ePortfolio. This will be available after the spring recess for any faculty members who would like to opt into this.
  6. Emailing: You could also ask students to send you clearly labeled drafts in a single email (at the end of the semester) and then you could forward them on to your cohort.  
  7. Hard copy option: There is always the old fashioned, low-tech option of printing out all the drafts. You would just need to find a way to get the portfolios to your group members. 

Whichever method you pick, remember that you will need to share detailed instructions with students and will need to be sure your cohort members know how to access student portfolios as well. Please make a plan to meet with your portfolio cohort, either in person or virtually, to 1) review your plans for the teaching the course; 2) review the Assessment Criteria document, 3) discuss how you will have students assemble portfolios; and 4) make a plan for exchanging and cross-reading portfolios at the end of the semester.

Files to Download

Note that some of these resources are only relevant to traditional portfolio assessment. If you are experimenting with an alternative approach to portfolio assessment this semester, you will need to modify documents like the “Assembly Instructions for Students” accordingly.

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