The Honors Portfolio

Overview

Reflection is one of the three core tenets of the Interdisciplinary Honors curriculum. Throughout your time at UW, you will find many people, classes and experiences inspire you to reflect on your education and choices -- the portfolio is designed to give you a framework to organize and synthesize those moments of reflection and growth. The Honors Portfolio is a web-based collection of artifacts and reflective writing that documents and contextualizes your undergraduate experience, allowing you to tell your UW Honors story to your peers, friends, family, current and future mentors and employers, and graduate school admissions board. The most important audience, however, is yourself. The Honors Portfolio is an opportunity to continue exploring your own capacities within the world. All Interdisciplinary Honors students will develop and complete a portfolio during their time at UW.

You will be introduced to the portfolio in HONORS 100, a mandatory 1-credit introduction for all incoming Honors freshmen. In this seminar you will be given practical and theoretical tools to create and compile an electronic portfolio of your academic and experiential work. Following HONORS 100, you will continue to contribute to your portfolio over the course of your undergraduate career. As you near graduation, you will enroll in HONORS 496, a peer-facilitated capstone seminar in which you will polish, publish and present a final portfolio.

Why reflection? Why portfolios?

Interdisciplinary Honors students are required to create and present a portfolio as a way to demonstrate their active reflection upon their undergraduate career and the choices they have made while at UW. Portfolios serve as integrative tools to examine and archive significant examples of students' undergraduate educational experiences. Portfolios encourage creative, real-time reflection and enable students to make connections between and across courses and disciplines, as well as to bridge the gap between educational experiences inside and outside of college classrooms. Portfolios encourage students to reflect on experiences and questions that are essential for lifelong learning and global citizenship.

Portfolios will also enable students to connect Honors and UW learning with their own values and future goals, and provide a space for students to begin translating their UW experience as they prepare for their next steps. Additionally, portfolios may be used as valuable tools to demonstrate competency and a body of substantial academic and creative work to future employers, higher-learning institutions, faculty mentors, and peers.

Creating your portfolio

You will be introduced to the portfolio in HONORS 100, which will give you an in-depth grounding in the portfolio process and will help you create your own.

Honors students are free to create their portfolio using any web-based software they choose. A few popular platforms are UW Google Sites, WordPress, Wix, and Weebly, but there are many other options out there and more being developed -- and if you have web development skills, feel free to start from scratch! Each of the platforms linked above have great help pages and trouble-shooting for the less tech savvy among us.

Whatever platform you use, it must be accessible to anyone with the link (you may choose to keep some materials private, either on hidden pages or in a separate archive mechanism such as Google Drive). In addition, you should be able to upload and share files (your artifacts), as well as include explanation of those files (your annotations).

You may want to check out a few examples of other students’ portfolios to get an idea of what is possible with each before deciding on a platform yourself.

Tips for success along the way

Between HONORS 100 and HONORS 496, we will be checking in on your portfolio progress via an annual audit, but much of your participation in this process will be on your own time and schedule. To help ensure consistent, thoughtful progression towards your finished product, we suggest the following tips:

Archive early, often and creatively

The more materials you save from your courses and other experiences over the next four years, the more fodder you will have for your final portfolio. Having a lot of archived material to choose from guarantees that your final portfolio will be a rich and accurate representation of your time at the UW. Archive early, and archive often! Google Drive allows you to do this easily, and will keep your documents in an archive that you can access no matter how many times you move or switch computers.

Our Honors instructors will help facilitate regular archiving and annotating by including portfolio specific assignments in their courses. Honors instructors are a core component of your community in Honors and will also assist in guiding you in your reflective practices.

Also remember that a diverse collection of artifacts will make your portfolio more interesting, both for you and your audience. Course assignments and papers are great items to save and include, but also think about archiving PowerPoint presentations, labs, photographs, research posters or presentations, blog posts, videos, etc. This can help you make your portfolio more interactive and representative of the variety and richness of your experiences.

And finally, don't forget that the portfolio isn't meant to be a showcase of only your finest accomplishments. By all means, include those projects, papers or moments that make you really proud, but don't be afraid to include examples of things that haven't gone well, but were important milestones because of that very fact. Just remember to write about why those setbacks or challenges matter in your story: what did you learn about yourself? How are you going to carry that knowledge forward? How has that obstacle changed your path?

Don't procrastinate: annotate!

This portfolio is designed to fuel your thinking as well as to document your undergraduate education, and as such, works best when you can see the process, not just the result. Your undergraduate years will go by very fast, and after a while, it is hard to remember just how you felt when you first discovered your major or that perfect study abroad, how excited (or terrified) you were to start doing research on your own, or how it felt when you got back that first Physics midterm. Taking down some brief notes on your experiences and the artifacts you archive while they're happening will help you to reflect over time and make your final portfolio reflections richer and more meaningful for you and your audience. So, whenever you save an artifact in your archive, take the time to jot down some notes about why the artifact matters, what it represents about you in the moment, and how it might have changed where you're heading in the future. The more you write, the more information you'll have to choose from when compiling your final portfolio and presentation.

See reflection where it already exists

The Honors curriculum all works together, so you’ll notice that many of your courses may include a reflective component. Your Experiential Learning applications will also require reflective writing on your choice of activity, and your growth from the experience. Should you apply for ad hoc Honors credit, Honors scholarships, leadership positions within the Program, or even just chat with advisers, you’ll notice we’re inspiring you to reflect in both big and small ways. Take advantage of this built-in reflective process and include it in your portfolio!

Share your story

Don't wait until HONORS 496 to take your portfolio on the road: it's meant to be interactive and shared. Share your ongoing work with Honors and departmental advisers, course instructors, Experiential Learning supervisors, mentors, family, and friends. And don't forget that your peers are also creating portfolios, and you are in many ways each other’s best resources. Take the time to look at your peers’ portfolios and share your own: this will help in your reflections, point you toward new experiences and courses, and demonstrate new and creative ways to document those experiences!

Personalize your page

Your portfolio is all about you and your individual journey at UW -- so each portfolio will be unique and individual. We encourage you to be creative and original with your space, and to make it a true representation of who you are. Most platforms allow you to change themes and layouts, and to insert pictures, slideshows, maps, videos, and a lot more. Take advantage of that freedom and make your portfolio a true representation of yourself! Just remember that form and function are linked!

Components & Requirements

Portfolios, as a tool of reflection, do not lend themselves to precise checklists. However, because this is a key part of the Interdisciplinary Honors curriculum, and because your enrollment in HONORS 496 requires basic elements be in place in your portfolio, the following guidelines are provided to help you fully participate in the portfolio process.

Your portfolio should not just include tangible examples of your time at UW, nor should it just be a collection of written reflection on that time -- instead, it should include both. We define these elements as artifacts and annotations, both of which are required to complete an entry:

Artifacts

An artifact is a piece of evidence (written, audio, visual) that represents some aspect of your learning. Each artifact marks a moment or experience in your own education. Artifacts might include (but are not limited to) research papers, PowerPoint presentations, notes or commentaries, video, photo essays, audio files, musical compositions, creative writing samples, art pieces, slideshows, blog entries or other presentations.

See Honors Student Jennifer Chou's creative use of artifacts, from a graded quiz to artsy instagrams taken in her first art class »

Annotations

Annotations are the meat of your portfolio: they are reflective statements representing the importance of the experience to your personal, academic or experiential learning career.

As you craft your annotations, consider these questions:

  • What did you learn that you did not already know? What took you by surprise?
  • What are three to five research questions or projects that you would like to explore because of what you learned in this class/project?
  • Is there a strategy or approach to learning featured in the course that you would be able to apply in other courses and/or disciplines?
  • What have you learned from the course that might be useful in your professional careers?
  • If the material and methodologies are not pertinent to your anticipated career, have they allowed you to grow as a thinker and learner?

See examples of annotations and how they relate to artifacts in the entries from Honors Students Tuyen Nguyen, Shannon Foss, and Marlena Norwood.

Portfolio Statement

In addition to artifacts and annotations, you will include a Portfolio Statement (written in HONORS 496) that ties together your entries and provides broader reflection on your undergraduate experience as a whole. This may, depending on intended audience, explain your future goals and relevant preparations for those experiences, as well.

See Honors Student Laura Thornqiust's clever portfolio statement, comparing herself to the very bacteria she studies in the classroom »

Completing your portfolio

Keep in mind that the portfolio is more a process than a product and you will find yourself continuing to work on your portfolio throughout your time at the UW (and perhaps even after you graduate). To ensure you are prepared for the reflection and group workshopping of your portfolio in HONORS 496, we set the following entrance requirements to enroll in the course.

Before enrolling in HONORS 496, your portfolio must include:

  • Entries from classes in your major(s)
  • Entries from Honors classes
  • Entries from other classes (electives, minors, etc)
  • One Experiential Learning entry

In addition, your portfolio should:

  • Include entries that address challenges, not just showcase successes
  • Include entries that span your entire time in Honors and at the UW
  • Elicit common themes from your undergraduate experiences
  • Demonstrate thoughtful reflection alongside each artifact

Examples

One great way to become more familiar with portfolios, and to see the diversity of styles, organization, and design, is to look at some examples from students at UW and other universities. Remember that your portfolio should represent you, and as such, it can look however you want. Check out the following examples for inspiration.

Here are a few finalized portfolio examples from students who have completed Honors 496:

Here are portfolios that are still in progress but are on their way to greatness:

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