Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures

When Students Should Submit Portfolios

Students should make their first attempts at fulfilling the writing competency requirement when they are four semesters away from their expected graduation date (typically, the first semester of the junior year). Students who start at Eckerd as first semester juniors should submit their work during the second semester of that year. Following this schedule best ensures that students’ graduations will not be delayed by students’ not having fulfilled this requirement.

How Writing Excellence Communicates with Students

Virtually all students who take Autumn Term attend an orientation session in the Writing Center. During these, the WEP faculty person conducting the session tells the students that it is their responsibility to know the college’s degree requirements (pp. 6-7 of the 2018-19 catalog), including that for writing competency (#3, p. 6). S/he then summarizes the writing competency requirement, emphasizing that all students must fulfill the requirement, that students immediately should start saving copies of all of their compositions, that they should include in their schedules courses that will give them opportunities to write and to improve their writing, and that they should remember to make their first attempt at fulfilling the requirement when portfolios are due the first semester of the junior year.

In advance of the due date for the fall semester’s evaluation session (portfolios are evaluated only in October and March) juniors and seniors who have not demonstrated writing competency are sent notes via campus mail and e-mail informing them of the due date and reminding them that they have yet to fulfill the requirement. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have not demonstrated writing competency are sent notes prior to the spring semester evaluation. In both fall and spring, notices are published in the campus newspaper and The Flush. Signs are posted around campus.

Approximately two weeks before portfolios are due each semester, the Writing Center holds a Writing Portfolio Information session. This event is announced via e-mail and posters.

Directions and suggestions for preparing and assembling writing competency portfolios are available online at <writing.eckerd.edu>.

How Student Portfolios are Evaluated

A group of faculty members from all collegia read the submitted portfolios; every portfolio will be read by at least two evaluators. Each portfolio, taken as a whole, will be rated “competent” or “inadequate.” This overall assessment will be the grade of record. The portfolio will be evaluated for the student’s demonstration of the following learning outcomes: 1) rhetorical awareness by focusing on audience, purpose, context, medium, and message; 2) critical thinking, reading, and writing by interpreting, evaluating, analyzing, and/or synthesizing information; 3) knowledge of composing processes by describing in the annotations prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing, individually and with peers; 4) ability to find, evaluate, and synthesize sources into their own ideas and knowledge of conventions of documentation in one or more formats; 5) composing proficiency through essay focus/coherence, organization, and thorough substantiation of claims; 6) knowledge of conventions of standard written English through use of tone, mechanics, grammar, and punctuation. The rubric that faculty readers will use to guide them in making their holistic evaluation is printed on the back cover of the portfolio folder.

All portfolios are read by at least two faculty evaluators. If both of those readers rate the exhibit as “competent,” the student will have fulfilled the requirement.

Any portfolio rated “inadequate” in either of the first two readings will be evaluated by a third reader. After that reading, a portfolio that has been deemed “competent” by two of those three readers will have fulfilled the requirement. A portfolio with two or three “inadequates” will be read by at least one and perhaps two readers. If after these additional readings a portfolio has received a majority of evaluations of “competent,” the student will have successfully fulfilled the writing competency graduation requirement.

When the evaluation process is complete, mentors will receive notification of by email about the final results for all of their students. Those portfolios that have fulfilled the requirement will be returned to the students via campus mail, and the registrar’s office will update the Degree Evaluations on EC-Web. Students whose portfolios did not pass will receive a note in the campus mailboxes. Their portfolios will be assigned to Writing Excellence faculty members who will provide formative feedback as described in the next paragraph.

Students whose final evaluation does not to meet the standard will receive specific recommendations in the form of a hard copy memo from the composition faculty for actions to improve an “inadequate” portfolio. These recommendations indicate the areas and skills that need improvement. They are not meant as exhaustive lists of corrections to be made. These students’ portfolios and the memos will be delivered to the students’ campus mailboxes. Mentors will receive an electronic version of the memo via email.

Recommendations and Requirements When a Portfolio is Evaluated as Inadequate

After students who submitted inadequate portfolios receive the memo with recommendations from a composition faculty member, they should meet with either the Director of Writing Excellence (Bill Kelly) or the Writing Portfolio Coordinator (Alexis Ramsey) to discuss the results.

Per faculty legislation:

All students who submitted inadequate portfolios are required to take a composition course (at Eckerd, courses with a CO course number). The composition course need not be taken at Eckerd—some students choose to fulfill this requirement over the summer at a school in their home areas. If a student is interested in this option, s/he needs to follow the usual process for transferring credit from another institution.

Students may not resubmit portfolios unless they have completed or are enrolled in a composition course.

Neither creative writing courses nor writing intensive courses other than composition courses fulfill this requirement. Only courses that start with the CO prefix or specific Winter Terms taught by Writing Excellence faculty qualify. Students may seek approval to take a composition course at another institution. Permission to do so follows the usual procedures for transferring credit to EC.

No student may register for comprehensive exams, senior thesis, or senior project without have fulfilled the writing competency requirement.

Petitions for Exceptions to Requirements

The Associate Dean of Faculty (Margie Sanfilippo) makes the final decision on all such petitions. A student seeking special consideration should obtain from the registrar’s office the appropriate form. The form is also available on the registrar’s web page for downloading. After the form is completed, and the instructor (when appropriate, such as for comprehensive exams, etc.), mentor, and collegial chair have made recommendations, the form should be forwarded to the Director of Writing Excellence (Bill Kelly). The Director will make a recommendation and forward the petition to the associate dean. The Registrar’s Office will inform students and mentors of the outcome via email.

Students filing petitions for one of the following requests are invited to make an appointment with the Director.

Petitions to be Excused from a Required Composition Course

When making a recommendation for action on a petition of this sort, the Director considers the foundational aspects of the college’s approach to ensuring writing competency in our graduates. (In brief, the portfolio evaluation is a summative evaluation. An evaluation of "inadequate" indicates to us the student's need for formative instruction and evaluation, most typically and often best offered in a formal class setting.) The Director also considers the results of the faculty readers’ evaluations, the detailed memo sent to the student from one of the composition faculty members, the recommendations of those who have already reviewed the petition, and the student’s understanding of the work that needs to be completed.

Petitions to be Permitted to Enroll in Comprehensive Exams, Senior Projects. Etc.

When making a recommendation for action on a petition of this sort, the Director considers whether or not the student has made an effort to fulfill the requirement and complete the related requirements. In other words, if the student has submitted a portfolio (which was deemed to be inadequate), and has taken appropriate measures to complete the requirement for a composition course, and has recommendations for approval from those who have previously reviewed the petition, then the Director will most likely recommend approval. If the student has not submitted a portfolio, then the Director will most likely not recommend approval.