IAS general portfolio requirements



If you only have a hard copy, please take your documents to the UW Tacoma Copy Center (on the ground floor of the Mattress Factory) and ask them to make a SEPARATE PDF of EACH OF your portfolio documents. The staff in the Copy Center will send the PDF to you by email. You will then need to request access to the Canvas course for your major. Once you have been given access, you can upload your portfolio PDF. 

General information about portfolios

  • Your completed portfolio is a requirement for your major.
  • The portfolio is no longer assessed and required in DARS, but it will continue to be evaluated by IAS. Some IAS majors have varying requirements for portfolios so please visit the appropriate portfolio page for your degree for full details.
  • Failing to complete your portfolio may have adverse affects on your degree completion. Some portfolios are requirements for specific courses required for graduation.

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Portfolio expectations

As a student in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Tacoma, you are expected to develop and demonstrate your abilities in writing, critical thinking, oral communication and collaborative learning through the campus' emphasis on reading and writing across the curriculum. In order to help you accomplish these goals, you will be required to compile a confidential portfolio of academic work completed during the course of your residence at UW Tacoma. The portfolio is an IAS requirement and is a permanent part of your academic record at UW Tacoma. You may also choose to use it during job searches or as part of your application to graduate school.

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Deadline and extension requests

Deadline: Portfolios are due by 5:00 p.m. on the third Friday of the quarter. Late portfolios will not be processed; thus, your portfolio will not be assessed for your degree completion. For your convenience, the due dates are listed in the table below:

AUTUMN 2014 October 10
WINTER 2015 January 23
SPRING 2015 April 17
SUMMER 2015 July 10

Unable to complete your portfolio by the deadline? Formal requests for an extension are also due by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday of the second full week of the quarter. (Please see the above chart for due dates.)

Instructions for requesting an extension:

  • Requests for extensions must be sent to iasport@uw.edu by 5:00 p.m. on the third Friday of the quarter.
  • The subject line must be "Request for Extension," and the email must be addressed to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs (Dr. Emily Ignacio).
  • The requests must be two pages and double-spaced with Times New Roman font 12 and one-inch margins. It must be sent as an attachment.
  • Anything less than two pages will not be considered.
  • The Associate Dean of Student Affairs will send emails approving or denying requests by 5:00 p.m. the following Monday (i.e., the Monday of the fourth full week of classes).
  • If your request is approved, you must submit your portfolio by 5:00 p.m. on the fifth Friday of the quarter. (If you are granted an extension, the specific due date will be given to you.) Late portfolios will not be assessed for your degree completion.

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What happens if I am unable to either upload my portfolio or send a request by the deadline? Portfolios uploaded after the deadline will not be considered. Requests sent after the deadline will not be considered. You will not officially graduate until you complete all the requirements of your major.

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Majors using new portfolio guidelines

Many of our 14 majors/concentrations have new, major-specific portfolio guidelines. New portfolio guidelines for the following majors are now a requirement:

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Majors continuing to use general portfolio guidelines

Some of our 14 majors/concentrations continue to use the general portfolio guidelines. The following majors use the general portfolio guidelines listed on this page:

  • American Studies
  • Global Studies (concentration)
  • History
  • IAS major
  • Individually-designed (concentration)
  • Law and Policy
  • Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PP&E)

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Submitting your portfolio

You are required to turn in your completed portfolio for review by 5:00 p.m. on the third Friday of your last quarter of enrollment. (Please see the above chart for due dates.) Please note the following guidelines for the submission of the portfolio:

  • The portfolio should not be completed more than one quarter prior to graduation, but you may begin your portfolio up to a year before.
  • It is recommended that you keep a copy of your portfolio for your records.
  • Hard copies are not accepted.
  • You are required submit your portfolio online. To start that process, submit your request for online portfolio submission.

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Guidelines for the general portfolio and reflective essay

The reflective essay is an opportunity to think about how the material included in your portfolio represents your growth and development within Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Tacoma. The goal for students, as well as faculty, is to reflect on how this material addresses the core Student Learning Objectives of IAS, including the development of written communication skills, advancement in critical thinking, and the application of theories, concepts and methods in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary analysis.

The first step is to select materials that address these different objectives.

The paper written in the first quarter of residence provides a measurement of your written and analytical skills upon your arrival at UW Tacoma. As such, it might not be the paper with the highest grade but one in which you tried to think about things in new ways and communicate these ideas.

The second and third papers direct you toward our core learning objectives: critical thinking from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. There are various ways to define critical thinking, but it relates to decisions or positions based on reasonable and reflective thinking and investigation. This involves the seeking of alternative hypotheses, explanations, conclusions, sources, etc. and being open to them. When you take such an approach to the analysis of complex relations between groups, societies, cultures and the natural environment and integrate frameworks from across disciplines, you have realized the type of learning that IAS is about.

Each major and concentration within IAS is guided by its own set of Student Learning Outcomes. Your fourth paper or equivalent project should demonstrate that you have achieved these outcomes, and have thus mastered the knowledge and skills associated with your major(s). You can demonstrate the depth and breadth of your achievement within your major(s) by selecting a paper or equivalent project that addresses multiple learning outcomes simultaneously. This item should represent your best work in your major or concentration, whether that is a research paper, creative prose, or some other project. Chose a paper or project from a course that fulfills a requirement for your major or concentration (not an elective). It does not have to be an “A” project but, rather, a project that shows your growth and development as a student. We define “best” to mean the work that reflects you in the way you want the world to see you.

Once you have selected the four items, reflect on how your written and analytical skills have grown and developed. Deliberate over what you have learned, not on specific topics, but rather on the acquisition of knowledge and understanding. Think about how this work represents new and different ways of approaching the evaluation of complex topics in our lives. Such consideration is the foundation for a meaningful reflective essay.

In your essay, be sure to explain how the work you have submitted fits into the designated categories. For example, how does your second paper represent the development of critical thinking skills? What makes your third paper a good example of interdisciplinary or cross-cultural analysis? Identify the learning outcomes that your fourth paper or equivalent project addresses, and explain how it does so.

The reflective essay should be between 400-500 words. It must be written and submitted at the time you turn in the portfolio.

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Portfolio FAQ

What is a "portfolio?"

A portfolio is a collection of materials that represent your work, skills, ideas and values. A portfolio includes material from different points in your academic career that will reflect growth in your thinking, an evolution in your skills and changes in your attitudes. It is a record of your intellectual development at UW Tacoma. Your portfolio will contain a number of carefully selected papers you have written in your classes, as well a reflective cover letter and some portfolio forms that you, your teachers and your classmates have filled out to assess your work. Depending on your major, it may also contain samples of your creative work or lab research.

No grade is attached to the portfolio, and it will not have any impact on your GPA or become part of your official transcript. However, the portfolio is a graduation requirement for all students in the IAS program.

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How do I start and maintain a portfolio?

In the beginning, you won’t know what to put in your portfolio, so the best advice is to save and organize all the writing you do in your classes. YOU WILL NEED THE ORIGINAL COPIES OF YOUR WORK (with grades and/or comments written by instructors), so always ask for your papers back, and file them in a place where they will not get damaged or lost. Do not throw any of your writing away. You want to have as much material as possible to choose from when you turn in the portfolio, so you can choose the documents that show your growth and development most clearly. You must have something from your first quarter at UW Tacoma, so it is important that you start saving materials for the portfolio from the day you enter the university.

You should also save other kinds of “texts” that you produce in classes: original artwork, films, photography, your creative writing, web pages you designed. In short, value and keep anything that represents you as an active learner. Date the materials you keep, and be sure to write down where, why, when and how you generated them. Then, when you want to review your collection, the chronology of works may provide some insights.

Review and update your portfolio regularly. Add new materials from the quarter just ending, and review and reorganize the older materials. Don’t just keep works with high grades. There is no grade attached to the portfolio, so we are not looking for evidence that you are an “A” student. We want to see what you have learned and what you know. We are interested in seeing how you have developed as a student. Also, you can gain a more complete view of your own work and your growth when you have a lot of material to analyze.

As you approach your final quarter at UW Tacoma, select the most appropriate documents to include in your portfolio. You may want to work with a faculty advisor on the selection process. Although you will not be able to include everything you have produced, you want to have as much data as possible to choose from so you can select your most representative and important work.

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Who looks at my portfolio and why?

In the quarter you plan to graduate, your portfolio will be reviewed for completeness and marked as received. You will not receive your portfolio back, nor will you receive feedback on your portfolio.

Once a year in the winter, IAS faculty assess portfolios by major. We try to identify patterns in student learning to see how effectively we are helping students achieve specific learning outcomes. We are not re-assessing individual work, rather we are assessing the effectiveness of the IAS program. We look at collective data statistically and use that data to improve our teaching and curriculum in order to provide the best education possible.

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Isn't this just "busy work?"

No. A portfolio gives you a unique opportunity to think about the learning process. It allows you to reflect on the many intellectual challenges you encountered at UW Tacoma, and lets you assess what you have learned so far and decide what areas you would like to develop further. It helps you to discover more about yourself and appreciate your strengths and achievements.

Your portfolio can help you to reflect on your personal growth and understand your work in that context. It may help you in setting goals for the future, in planning a career or in making a commitment to a social or political cause. It may remind you of who you were as you entered the university and may reflect, to you and other readers of your portfolio, who you have become. The portfolio assessment process is also valuable to the university, because it allows us to determine how we are meeting the stated learning outcomes that guide our curriculum.

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What goes in my portfolio?

This is determined by your major. Once you have declared your major, work with a faculty advisor to discuss which of your papers and documents are most appropriate to include in the portfolio. You should also review the checklist and instructions for your major.

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When and how do I submit my portfolio?

There is a two-week window of time when you must submit your portfolio. It must be submitted online by 5:00 p.m. of the third Friday of the quarter you plan to graduate. (Please see the above chart for due dates.) You cannot turn it in earlier than the quarter you plan to graduate. If you turn it in late, your portfolio will not be evaluated, and it may affect your graduation. It is your responsibility to meet the deadline and turn in the portfolio in a timely manner. Always keep a copy of the materials you turn in, in the event that your portfolio is lost or misplaced.

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Will I get my portfolio back?

No. Portfolios are marked received, reviewed and used for major and department assessments. You will not receive your portfolio back, nor will you receive feedback on your portfolio.

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General portfolio requirements

The requirements for the portfolio have changed, and the following items are for all students admitted to IAS in 2006 and beyond. For students admitted to IAS prior to 2006, please contact your advisor for instructions. You may need to use older requirements.

Portfolio Checklist (The checklist MUST be filled out and submitted with the required documents for your portfolio to be complete.)

In addition to the checklist above, you must also submit the following items:

Reflective essay: A 400-500 word essay in which you reflect on how the material included in your portfolio represents your growth and development with the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program and your major(s).

Written communication - four papers:

  1. An initial writing sample, completed during the first quarter in IAS. This should be an essay, analysis or research paper that is at least three pages in length.
  2. A paper that demonstrates significant growth in the IAS program and your major and represents the development of critical thinking skills.
  3. A paper that demonstrates significant growth in the IAS program and your major and represents the application of an interdisciplinary or cross-cultural perspective to a given topic.
  4. A paper or equivalent project produced in the IAS program that demonstrates your mastery of the Student Learning Outcomes for your major(s).

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You are finished! Your portfolio submission, once complete, will be processed and evaluated by IAS. Congratulations!

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To request changes to this page, please contact iasweb@uw.edu.