Critical Writing and Reasoning Portfolio
The University of Saint Joseph Critical Writing & Reasoning Portfolio Program is a nationally recognized program designed to ensure that students graduate with a proficiency in writing and critical thinking. Students submit examples of their strongest writing, which is then assessed by faculty. Along with a portfolio score, faculty readers provide each student with a synopsis of the strengths and weaknesses of the portfolio so that the student understands how to improve the writing. The feedback provides specific information as well as begins a conversation with the student, rather than simply to provide a numerical score. The program is unique among colleges and universities.
The process begins in sophomore year, when students are automatically enrolled in the Blackboard platform according to number of credits or projected graduation date. The same process applies to transfer students.
Starting in the 2016 spring semester, all portfolios are evaluated using the TARGET critical thinking rubric (available in the USJ bookstore, but also used by many faculty across campus). Each student must earn a B- average on the critical thinking portion (understanding, evaluation, complexity, logic) and score of “sufficient” on the lower-order elements (organization, style, correctness, documentation) on two papers to pass the portfolio requirement. When students earn those scores on two papers, they pass the requirement and no longer have to submit work.
Students have multiple opportunities to revise their work according to faculty feedback. Students may resubmit, or submit new work after each evaluation. Students earning a B+ receive an award of Distinction, and students earning an A receive the rare President’s Award for Critical Thinking and Writing, and an official note on their academic transcript.
Portfolios are read between September and May. Writing portfolio work will be submitted to the Interdisciplinary Writing And Reasoning Department. The portfolio is a graduation requirement. Students who have not passed the requirement prior to the May Commencement may not participate in Commencement ceremonies.
For more information, check https://www.usj.edu/academics/academic-services/interdisciplinary-writing-reasoning/ and the Interdisciplinary Writing and Reasoning link on the Student Resource page of MyUsj.