I have been a loyal reader of postings, but this is my first offering.
I am not aware of any Canadian universities that use portfolios, but I worked with such a system when I taught at The College of The Bahamas from 1999-2000.
For each assignment, students wrote one draft that was critiqued by a peer in class. Students then submitted a revised draft to me, with the peer evaluation sheet attached. I could provide summary comments on the paper but was not supposed to assign a grade. In slight violation of the rules, I added a notation that if I were to evaluate the paper as it now stood, I would assign a grade of _____. Students could choose to revise the paper and include it in the portfolio. If I remember correctly, students submitted the best four out of six assignments. The portfolio was worth 60% of the final grade.
The major advantage of the system was that students had more opportunities to revise papers based on feedback from readers. One major disadvantage was that, if I had not assigned a "temporary" grade, students would have had no idea of their mark on a major portion of the course until the end. They were anxious enough as it was going into the final exam without knowing an "official" term mark. As well, the marking at the end of term was numbing, especially with four different English courses. To add to the marking, each instructor had to pair up with a colleague and evaluate a portion of that instructor's portfolios to ensure that marking standards were consistent.
Some students did well with portfolios because they took advantage of the time to re-think and revise papers significantly. Others simply cleaned up the punctuation and rewrote assignments in their best hand. I suspect that the stronger students would have done as well under a more traditional system of submitting papers throughout the term. However, I admit that I taught at COB for only two terms and didn't have time to adjust fully to the process. I don't know if the English department has changed the process in any way. I am curious to know what experience others have had with such a system.
Diane Ewen, M.A.
Learning Skills Strategist
Learning Success Centre
Department of Student Services
350 Victoria Street
Toronto, ON M5B 2K3
Office: JOR 302A
416-979-5000, ext. 4578
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----- Original Message -----
From: Jo-Anne Andre <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, May 19, 2004 7:34 pm
Subject: Writing Requirements
> Piggy-backing on Doug's question, I'd also be interested if any
> Canadianuniversities have moved toward a writing requirement based
> on a system
> of portfolio evaluation, which seems to be a growing trend in the U.S.
> (If so, what has your experience with such a system been like?)
> Jo-Anne Andre
> U of Calgary
> Russ Hunt wrote:
> > Hm.
> > > Do you have specific criteria for writing intensive courses? It
> > > sounds
> > > as though you may not need them if the courses have been developed
> > > from
> > > scratch within this model, as opposed to the usual practice of
> > > letting
> > > students choose among a long list of courses that have been
> > > "certified"
> > > in some way. But I'd love more retails.
> > Nobody pays retail, Doug.
> > -- Russ
> > Russell Hunt
> > Department of English
> > St. Thomas University
> > http://www.stu.ca/~hunt/
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> To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
> [log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
> write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
> For the list archives and information about the organization,
> its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to
To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
[log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to