SAGES Writing Portfolio Assignment

Updated January 17, 2014

After the completion of your second University Seminar, you will compile a final writing portfolio and submit it to the SAGES office (110 Crawford Hall).   Students studying off campus for the semester can email their portfolios to Your portfolio is due the semester following your second University Seminar. If you completed your second University Seminar in a Spring or Summer semester, the deadline for submitting your portfolio is November 1 of that year. If you completed your second University Seminar in a Fall semester, the deadline for submitting your portfolio is March 1 of the following year. If you completed your second University Seminar more than six months ago, the deadline for submitting your portfolio has already passed, and you must turn it in as soon as possible.

The writing portfolio documents your development as a writer over your first three SAGES seminars and provides the University with feedback that will be used to enhance the SAGES program. You should include the final versions of essays. There is no need to revise these essays prior to portfolio submission. As you decide which papers to include, you are welcome to consult your writing instructor, faculty seminar leaders, the Writing Resource Center, or the SAGES Peer Writing Crew in developing your writing portfolio. (To make an appointment with the Writing Resource Center, please visit; to make an appointment with the SAGES Peer Writing Crew, please visit TutorTrac.)

Please note: Students alone are responsible for providing copies of their work in their final portfolios. Individual seminar instructors and/or the Writing Resource Center can discuss strategies for archiving written work and for building the portfolio, but they do not retain copies of essays for students.


The writing portfolio must contain the following material in order:

(Please use a large paper clip or binder clip to fasten the portfolio together. No staples, please.  We have large clips for you to use when you drop off your portfolio.)

  • Submission Form (download here)
  • A 2- to 3-page reflective essay (see guidelines below)
  • One essay from your First Seminar
  • One essay from a University Seminar
  • A research paper from your other University Seminar. This paper is typically 10-12 pages long; at a minimum, it must contain 8 pages of prose (not counting the bibliography). The research essay must integrate and cite primary and/or secondary source material and include a properly formatted bibliography page or bibliographic footnotes (see additional details below).
  • Page numbers should appear on individual essays

All essays submitted in your writing portfolio should be your own work. Faculty reviewers do not encourage the inclusion of collaboratively written papers, but if you wish to include multi-authored work, you must justify its inclusion and explain your individual contribution to the final product in a reader’s note (~1 page) attached to the front of the essay. No more than one such project may be included in the final portfolio.

Reflective Essay

Prompt: Reflecting on the essays included in your portfolio, discuss how your writing has developed across your first-year and university SAGES seminars. Provide evidence and examples from your essays and/or your writing process to demonstrate your development. (2-3 pages)

Portfolio readers are genuinely interested in your own thinking about the writing you did in SAGES as well as the writing you do or plan to do outside of SAGES. They are most interested in what you have learned about the relation of writing to ideas and to your own critical thinking.

Research Essay

Your portfolio must contain a research paper from one of your two University Seminars. By "research paper," SAGES means a sustained engagement with an academic conversation—summarizing and critiquing what others have said on your topic—that includes your own novel claim or argument. This paper must do more than catalog the research you have done (e.g., an annotated bibliography is not sufficient); it should demonstrate your ability to synthesize academic research on a specific topic and to offer your own analysis or critical intervention. Such a paper will have a single controlling idea that represents your own thinking about the topic.

The research paper should be approximately 10-12 pages (not counting the bibliography or bibliographic footnotes), with a minimum length of 8 pages of prose. The research essay must integrate and cite primary and/or secondary source material and include a properly formatted bibliography.

If you did not have the opportunity to write a research paper that meets these criteria in either of your University Seminars, consult the SAGES Portfolio Coordinator (

Notification and Assessment Process

After you turn in your portfolio, it will be reviewed by the SAGES Portfolio Coordinator. An acceptable portfolio must not only be complete (i.e., all papers are present and appropriate) but also demonstrate your good faith effort to assemble the portfolio and craft a thoughtful reflection on your writing. Once your portfolio has met these requirements, you will receive an email confirming that your portfolio has satisfied the University's composition requirement for graduation. 

Each year, SAGES convenes a committee of faculty from several schools within the university to read and assess the portfolios to provide valuable feedback about our seminar curriculum and writing instruction. While you will not receive specific feedback on your own portfolio, SAGES publicly recognizes the best submissions.


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