Portfolio Rubric

Portfolio Project Overview

Each student’s portfolio will consist of three parts:  a narrative analyzing the student’s growth as a writer and researcher of history during his/her education at BSU, a compilation of ten or more essays written by the student for BSU history courses, and a 150-to-250-word analysis of each essay that evaluates how it met one or more of the History Program’s Student Learning Objectives.

Student Learning Objectives

The nine Student Learning Objectives for the History Program include:

Introductory Objectives
  1. Students will identify and explain major historical events, including their sequence and causes.  In doing so, they will recognize the diversity and interconnectivity of human experiences across both geography and time.
  2. Students will narrate change over time, both orally and in writing.  In doing so, they will accurately interpret both primary and secondary sources to substantiate their accounts of the past.
  3. Students will recognize the value of historicization and identify its use in historical scholarship.  In other words, they will recognize that historians interpret current issues by evaluating their relationships to past events.
Intermediate Objectives
  1. Students will demonstrate intellectual empathy when assessing the values and choices of past peoples.  Intellectual empathy is the recognition that although past peoples held cultural ideals with which we may disagree, the diversity of historical human perspectives is worthy of respect and of being studied.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to think historically.  They will evaluate causation, appraise historical significance, analyze contested interpretations of the past, and defend arguments using historical evidence.
  3. Students will exhibit the ability to historicize.  In other words, they will interpret present-day issues by evaluating their relationships to both past events and the choices of historical actors.
Advanced Objectives
  1. Students will critically engage with historical discourse.  Students will evaluate the evidence, theories, assumptions, and methods underlying historians’ arguments.  In doing so, students will recognize that historians’ interpretations have changed over time because they were shaped by the cultures and societies in which the historians lived.
  2. Students will author original research, both by effectively investigating and interpreting primary and second-source evidence and by appropriately situating their work within pertinent historiographical debates.
  3. Students will analyze and investigate the applications of historical thinking to multiple careers located either within the field of history education and research or beyond it.  Careers that utilize historical thinking include museum and archival curation, cultural resource management, creative writing, publication, law, public policy and advocacy, and other fields that are based on informational research, analysis, and synthesis.


First Component: Narrative


The portfolio’s narrative will be a five-to-seven-page (1250-to-1750-word) self-analysis of the student’s growth in the nine Learning Objectives.  This is the student’s chance to let his/her learning experience at BSU shine!!!  The narrative will have an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.  The student should reference examples from his/her research papers, class projects, class discussions, and feedback from professors to demonstrate scholarly growth.  The narrative should address the following four questions:

  1. In what Learning Objectives does the student most excel, and why?
  2. What Objectives does the student struggle most to obtain, and why?
  3. In what areas has the student most developed while at BSU, and why? For example, what methodological changes has the student made to improve his/her writing or research?  How has the student’s experience at BSU changed how he/she thinks about the past?
  4. In light of what he/she has learned, what changes does the student plan to make in the future in order to further his/her scholarly development?


Second Component: Essay Compilation


The portfolio’s compilation of ten or more essays should be appended after the narrative.  Students may choose which essays to include, provided they meet the following requirements:


  • Each essay must meet at least one of the Student Learning Objectives.
  • Each essay must have been written as a graded assignment for a History course. Up to two essays written for allied courses, such as Political Science, may also be included with the portfolio instructor’s permission.
  • The student should include the instructor’s original feedback for each essay, if it is still available. If the student does not have the feedback, then he/she should ask the instructor to see if a copy was saved.
  • The student may include no more than one exam essay, as well as no more than one discussion day assignment, such as the five-questions assigned for each of Dr. Ellis’s discussions. All the other essays must be research papers, book reviews, or historiographical papers.
  • The papers for Historiography, Methodology, and all three writing-intensive courses must be included.
  • The essays should demonstrate improvement over time. Therefore, the student should include three or more essays in which he/she struggled to meet at least one Learning Objective.  Those essays should be then paired with later papers in which the student met these Objectives.
  • The essays should be chronologically organized, from the earliest to the most recently written.


Third Component: Analyses of Essays


Each essay must be preceded by a 150-to-250-word analysis of how it meets one or more Learning Objectives.  Collectively, the analyses should show that the student has met all nine Objectives in the portfolio’s compilation of papers.  If the purpose of portfolio’s narrative is to recount the overarching story of how and why the student’s scholarship improved at BSU, then the purpose of the analyses is to allow the student to illustrate how he/she has met the Objectives in specific papers.  Students may also use the analyses to explore in greater depth the themes and ideas presented in the narrative.

Each analysis will answer the following three questions:

  1. Which specific Learning Objectives did this paper meet, and why?
  2. Did the student attempt to meet a Learning Objective in this paper but was unsuccessful? What did he/she learn from this experience?
  3. Does this paper demonstrate that the student’s scholarship has improved over time? For example, did the student meet one of the Objectives more effectively in this essay than in an earlier paper?




The portfolio project will be graded as a pass/fail course.  For a student to complete the course, the portfolio must earn the equivalent of a “B” or higher.  Students who submit a portfolio that falls under the required threshold will receive an “incomplete” grade.*  To complete the portfolio project, the student must sufficiently meet the following four rubric points:

  • Does the portfolio meet the length and component requirements noted above?
  • Do the portfolio’s narrative and essay analyses thoughtfully answer the questions asked above? The narrative should answer the four questions listed above, and each essay analysis should answer the three questions listed above.
  • Are the portfolio’s narrative and essay analyses logically organized, well written, and proofread for grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Does the portfolio clearly analyze how the student has met all nine Learning Objectives, as well as how his/her scholarship has improved over time?

*A student who gets an “incomplete” will have one month after the end of the semester to complete his/her portfolio.  If the portfolio is not finished within one month after the end of the semester, then it will not receive a passing grade.


Portfolio Steps to Completion


To complete the portfolio, students must complete the following three steps:

  • The student will write a rough draft of the portfolio narrative. The instructor will provide feedback for the narrative, including critiques regarding composition and grammar.  The student will meet with the instructor to discuss this feedback.  The instructor may require the student to re-write portions of the narrative before moving to step two.
  • The student will write a rough draft of two of the portfolio’s essay analyses. The instructor will provide feedback for the analyses, including critiques regarding composition and grammar.  The student will meet with the instructor to discuss this feedback.  The instructor may require the student to re-write parts of the analyses before moving to step three.
  • The student will submit the completed portfolio, which will incorporate the instructor’s previous feedback.