Web Portfolios: Demonstrating the Coherence of an Individual Major

Overview and Requirements

To promote reflection on the coherence of their academic careers, students completing individual majors maintain web portfolios of their work.

A web portfolio is a collection of work that a student chooses in order to illustrate the unfolding meaning of their career. The work is stored and presented as a web site, with links that demonstrate how the student understands the relationships he or she has built among many individual achievements. These portfolios make the CIS interest in “making meaningful connections” concrete. Works of almost any imaginable kind (art, lab reports, film and audio clips, essays) can be included in a web portfolio.

Although many different materials may be included in a web portfolio, the following are required elements:

  1. The original proposal for your individual major.
  2. A selection of work produced in the several courses that make up your major sufficient to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your understanding of the subject matter.
  3. An annotated bibliography: this list of resources, each with a paragraph of annotation describing its contents and relevance, can include websites as well as library materials. It should be both extensive and detailed, demonstrating your competence in the area.
  4. Internal links: your portfolio should contain many internal links, that is links between the various pieces you have included, hereby demonstrating the connections you have made, the integrative web you have woven in your individual major. You should develop links between coursework and your original proposal. You might also, for example, provide links between a paper produced in one course and a project produced in another. The links illustrate themes and ideas important to your major. In short–web portfolios should be richly “linky.”
  5. Your senior project.

Besides demonstrating a student’s grasp of the central subject of their studies, web portfolios promote four goals of liberal learning: recognizing connections, being reflective about intellectual and personal growth, building intellectual community, and building bridges to communities outside the academy.

Excellent web portfolios are characterized by the meaningful coherence of the whole, the quality of the individual pages, the clarity and logic of the overall design, the creativity and thoroughness of the links, the degree to which the rationale for particular links is explicit and sensible, the critical judgment apparent in the selection of external sites, the extent of the portfolio, and the portfolios overall aesthetic quality.