Collection Strategies

Collecting and Storing

Early in your course, you should introduce your students to the portfolio project and the idea of a “working folder.” This folder is a space where students can store everything they write for your course. Possible places where students can collect and organize their work include

  • Folder on the hard drive of a computer or a flash drive.
  • Folder in the cloud (e.g., Google drive; Dropbox).
  • Website on which artifacts are developed or deployed (Domain courses).
  • Three-ring binder or folder with pockets.

Note that the working folder by itself is not the completed portfolio. It is simply a repository. The portfolio itself doesn’t necessarily include every artifact produced during the semester.

Ultimately, students will need to submit their portfolios to you (and to the First-Year Assessment Team), so online storage makes the most sense. If you do opt for a paper portfolio, please make arrangements with the Assessment Team to scan a samples of the portfolios from your course.

Organizing as they go

Students should come up with an organizational scheme for the materials they’re developing and collecting. A thoughtfully named group of subfolders with the working folder seems like the best approach. Reynolds and Davis (2014) suggest three possible sorting strategies:

Chronological LabelingTopical LabelingInterest Labeling

  • Project 1, drafts and notes

  • Project 1, instructor comments

  • Project 2, outline

  • Project 2, peer response

  • Project 2, revisions, round 1

  • Literature review for research project

  • Analysis of three podcasts

  • Informed argument about podcasts

  • Favorite piece so far

  • Work I could revise

  • Projects I don't want to revisit

Reflecting as they go

You should return to the idea of the portfolio often during the semester. Collecting, organizing, and developing short reflections about drafts and completed (for now) pieces of writing will make selecting and arranging artifacts–and reflecting on the portfolio as a whole–much easier for students at the end of the semester.

You also might consider having students reflect on their application of key ideas from rhetoric, writing studies, or even Emory’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) at different times during the semester. For ideas, see the adapted prompts.

Beginning: What is evidence? What are we talking about when we discuss the nature of evidence? What is argument? How are evidence and argument related? What do you think we will do in this course to learn about evidence and argument?

Middle: Given the course readings and our discussions and activities so far, how do you define evidence and argument? Have your definitions changed from the beginning of the course? If they have, what caused them to change? If they have not, why not? Has learning in other contexts outside this course had any role in shaping your definitions?

End: What is the most important thing you learned about evidence and argument this term? How has that learning affected your definition of evidence and argument? Be sure to note specific activities, readings, or discussions that were especially meaningful to you in thinking about the ideas around evidence and argument.


  • Light, T. P. (2011). Documenting Learning with ePortfolios: A Guide for College Instructors (1 edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Reynolds, N., & Davis, E. (2014). Portfolio Teaching: A Guide for Instructors (Third Edition). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.