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Guidelines for Writing Portfolios

To complete your Writing in the Major requirement for majors in chemistry and biochemistry you will submit a portfolio selected from writing assignments from several courses in the major along with a written reflection on your growth as a writer. The purpose of the written reflection is two-fold. First, it allows you to critique the development of your writing within the major.  Second, it provides you with the opportunity to identify areas where your  writing needs to improve  as you prepare to enter the next phase of  your professional life. .

As a chemistry or biochemistry major, you will submit a portfolio in the fall semester of your senior year.  The following items are required components of your writing portfolio:

  • You should introduce your portfolio with a written reflection in which you argue for your development as a writer within the major.  Refer to the documents you included in your portfolio (see bullet points below) as evidence of your accomplishments.  Think carefully and thoughtfully about your writing and your growth as a writer.  Write about how you used instructor and peer feedback to improve your writing.  You should support arguments about how your writing has improved by referring to writing samples and peer or instructor feedback.

  • One full lab report plus one section of an additional lab report, for example the introduction or results section, from CHEM 240 or 260.  Add a subtitle to these documents describing whether you wrote the report individually or as part of a group, in which case you should clearly state which parts of the report you wrote and how you contributed to other parts.

  • One writing sample from an upper-level course, typically chosen from Chem 343, 440, 450, 460 and/or an analytical report from a research experience (Chem 395, 405 or summer research).

  • One single-author piece that demonstrates your ability to effectively communicate science to an educated but non-technical audience.  You may have originally written this document for a course or may write (or rewrite) one specifically for this portfolio.  If you have not already written a scientific document for a general audience, or you feel that you could write a better one than you once did, you are invited to write one specifically for this portfolio.  In this case, you can base your writing on any chemical or biochemical topic  - from the news, a Chem 240 Case Study,  a chem 343 presentation, your own independent research project, or information covered in any other course in the major.  Your document should be addressed to an audience of a college-educated peer who is not a science major.  Teach them about what you learned and why you think it is important for them to understand it in an educated and informed manner. The length of your document should be at least 750 words.

  • Any related peer or instructor feedback that will illustrate your growth as a writer.

Portfolios are due on the second Friday of November of the senior year. Any student whose portfolio does not demonstrate competence will be notified by the first day of the second semester and will have to complete an additional writing component of the senior comprehensive exam to demonstrate writing competence in the major.