Writing 115 Portfolio-Based Assessment


In 1997, the English/Writing program at Eastern Oregon University instituted a portfolio-based holistic assessment for Writing 115.


Holistic assessment in Writing 115 has the following benefits:

  • More consistent assessment of students’ work,
  • Heightened opportunities for active learning,
  • Revision of teacher’s role from judge to guide,
  • Opportunities for continued articulation/clarification for students and instructors of issues of literacy, learning, and standards, and
  • Improved continuity and coherence within first-year writing program.


Students taking Writing 115 must meet the following prerequisites:

  • Accuplacer Sentence Skills score of less than or equal to 86, and
  • Satisfactory in-class diagnostic essay.

After the end-of-term portfolio reading, students will receive a Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) grade as follows:

  • Students who have completed all coursework and receive a passing score on their portfolios will receive a Satisfactory (S).
  • Students who have completed all coursework and demonstrated outstanding effort and growth but whose portfolios do not pass may receive an “in-progress” grade (Y or X) and be allowed to continue their work in a new course the following term. The “in-progress” decision resides solely with the instructor and is not available to all students. Upon receiving a Satisfactory during the second term, students will also receive a Satisfactory in the prior term’s course. Upon receiving an Unsatisfactory during the second term, students will also receive an Unsatisfactory for the prior term’s course. (This policy was instituted in 2003.)
  • Students whose portfolios receive a passing score but who have not completed all coursework may receive an Unsatisfactory.
  • Students whose portfolios do not pass or who fail to submit a portfolio will receive an Unsatisfactory.


Portfolios will demonstrate:

  • Readiness to write expository prose at the college level, including attention to focus, organization, development, and conventions,
  • Appropriate use of a writing process involving peer and tutor response and thoughtful revision, and
  • Ability to reflect on the writing process and rhetorical situation.

Portfolio Description

Portfolios should contain:

  • A reader’s preface that includes reflections on the writer’s writing experiences and the essays included in the portfolio,
  • An essay that draws on personal experience and may analyze a related discourse community,
  • A summary and response essay,
  • An analytical essay relying on two or more course readings as secondary sources,
  • One in-class or timed writing, and
  • Evidence of a writing process, including peer responses, tutor forms, and multiple drafts demonstrating significant revision.

Correctness: The portfolio should demonstrate consistent editing for mechanics and grammar. While students’ works do not have to be mechanically perfect, they must be carefully edited so that errors do not prevent readers from understanding the points writers make.

Portfolio Format: All pieces submitted in the portfolio should be 2-3 pages in length, typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins all around. The first lines of paragraphs should be indented 1/2 inch. No extra spaces between paragraphs should be used except to create a desired effect. Word-processed documents should use a small font, such as 12-point Times or Palatino.  See Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference section D: Document Design and sections on citation format, which include sample paper formats, for further formatting information.

All pieces should be printed cleanly and clearly and free from stray marks and corrections made after printing. They should be submitted in a folder with the student’s and instructor’s names on each piece and on the portfolio cover.

Statement on Academic Misconduct: Eastern Oregon University places a high value upon the integrity of its student scholars. Any student found guilty of an act of academic misconduct (including, but not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, or theft of an examination or supplies) may be subject to having his or her grade reduced in the course in question, being placed on program or suspended from the university, or being expelled from the university–or a combination of these. (Please see Section II of the 2002-2003 Student Handbook and Planning Calendar: Campus Citizenship (Academic), p. 32ft. Campus Citizenship (Behavior), p. 41ff)

Plagiarism, submitting another’s work as one’s own, is strictly forbidden. To avoid plagiarism, students must cite all information from sources–whether quoted,  paraphrased, or summarized–according to a conventional format like MLA or APA. Proper citation usually includes end-of-text citations and effective integration of source material into the writer’s prose with appropriate use of signal phrases, quotation marks or indenting, and in-text citations. See Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference sections on citation format for further information and examples.


A. Pre-assessment

At midterm, students will submit the first essay to be read and evaluated by members of the English-Writing faculty. These pieces will be returned to the student with comments. The outcome of pre-assessment in no way binds the English/Writing faculty to pass or not pass the student’s final portfolio. The feedback is intended to provide the student with an indication of how he or she is doing at the midterm. The assessment is intended to allow the English/Writing faculty to articulate standards and to work towards evaluative consistency.

Readers will have 1/2 day’s release time for midterm pre-assessment.

B. Portfolio Assessment

Toward the end of the term, students will submit to their instructors a complete portfolio for formal assessment. Instructors reserve the right to refuse to submit the portfolio to the assessors if the portfolio is incomplete or if the student has failed to meet other course requirements. During finals week, students will be given the opportunity to see the outcome of the assessment.

Portfolios will be read and holistically scored by members of the English/Writing faculty. Readers will score the portfolios using a Pass/No Pass method based on the outcomes identified above. Each portfolio will be read by a faculty member who is not the student’s Writing 115 instructor. Borderline and Not Passing portfolios will be read a second time, again by a faculty member who is not the student’s Writing 115 instructor. Should the two readers be unable to reach consensus, a third reader will be used.

WR 115 Rubric

Readers will be normed at least once per year, usually during fall term. Additional norming sessions will be scheduled as needed.

Readers will have 1 day’s release time for portfolio assessment.

In-Progress Designation

Rationale: Some students admitted to EOU simply need more time than their peers to prepare for college-level writing. In an effort to retain them as students and to encourage their progress, instructors will identify such students as demonstrating outstanding effort and growth and allow them an additional term of pre-Writing 121 writing experience before expecting them to pass the Writing 115 portfolio.

Procedure: The student will receive a Y (no basis for grade) or an X (in progress) in the first Writing 115 course and enroll in a Writing 115 section the following term. Using a course by arrangement form (and separate CRN assigned by the registrar), the instructor of that section will switch the student to an individual Writing 110 course during the first week. This way, the student will not be repeating Writing 115, and the Writing 115 section in which the student participates will not be overenrolled. Upon successful completion of the Writing 110 course (Satisfactory), the Writing 115 course will also receive an S. An Unsatisfactory in the Writing 110 course will result in a U for both terms.

Updated October 24, 2008 by Nancy Knowles.