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Introduction. Congratulations! You have been selected to participate in an exciting new project at Winona State University as you and your instructors explore the best way to put into practice the Student Development Portfolio over the next four years.
As you move through your college years, your Student Development Portfolio will provide you, your advisor, instructors, internship supervisors, and potential employers a rich portrait of who you are, who you are becoming, how you are getting there, what you value and can do, as well as how you sort out all the bumps in the road along the way. It will also be a portrait of the footprints you leave on Winona State and the broader community.
During your first semester, you will be learning the basics of portfolio development. Use what you learn from the self-assessment exercises and goal setting to establish academic, personal and profession goals for this year.
Your portfolio this semester will include at least four sections as follows:
Annual Development Plan
Reflections on all aspects of your learning
Exhibits of your work.
Personal Introduction. In this section introduce yourself and welcome your readers by telling them a bit about who you are right now as a first-year student. As you change and grow, this section will change and grow with you. Before you begin to write your introduction, use the following questions to guide you:
What are your interests, abilities, and talents?
Why you decided to go to college. Why Winona State? If you have declared a major, why did you decide to pursue this major? If you are still undecided, what do you want to explore this year? How do you hope that your college years will support your personal and professional goals?
What do you hope to get out of your college experience (academically, socially, personally)?
How do you expect college to be different than high school?
Who are you as a learner, listener, thinker, communicator, friend, daughter/son?
How do you like to spend your leisure time?
A few of these questions may be difficult to answer at first. Hang in there. Struggling with them is excellent preparation for answering them more fully. You will be surprised how much clearer and richer your answers will be as you grow from your college life.
As you prepare your personal description keep asking yourself why-why do I want to be a teacher, nurse, artist, scientist, or whatever? Why do I love dancing, hiking, cooking, music, canoeing, water skiing, in-line skating, watching sports, and so forth? We want to know more about who you are and what you have learned from your experiences than about just what you have done.
Annual Development Plan. A development plan charts your short-term and long-range goals. In addition to the identification of goals, you will create a systematic plan with specific steps for meeting those goals. As you think about these goals, we ask you to consider what you feel are your current life challenges and what you still want to know and be able to do? These topics become your goals. How will you meet these goals? Will you read, take courses, observe, engage in co-curricular activities, and/or seek a mentor? Your consideration of these questions will help you develop a step-by-step action plan for meeting these goals and for documenting your growth. You will establish one or two goals this semester in each of the following dimensions of your life:
Health and Wellness-for example your strengths and vulnerabilities around issues of health, time management, eating and drinking habits, self-renewing activities, habits of work.
Learning Goals-for example, what you want to know more about; habits of mind you want to focus on this semester; questions you might want to explore (what you're curious about).
Personal Goals-for example, the kinds of extra-curricular activities you want to pursue outside of the classroom.
Professional Goals-for example, what are the first steps to pursuing your professional career goals? What are the kinds of habits of mind, traits, and skills you need to develop as you move toward your desired profession?
We will help you develop S.M.A.R.T goals for each of these dimensions (see attached). We will coach you along the way along the way. At least two upper division students portfolio development experience will serve as coaches as well.
Reflection. Reflection is an important aspect of both learning and living. Experience is a great teacher. Yet we know that it is the reflection on experiences that leads to learning, not merely the learning experience itself. We learn from those experiences that we ponder, explore, review, and question. In this way reflection, not experience alone is our teacher. It will be the reflective process of your portfolio that will provide you with the greatest opportunities for deep understanding, self-assessment, and self-confidence as you make visible to yourself and others the full richness of your learning in all dimensions of your life
Reflection, however, is more that just thinking hard about what you do. Reflective learners give careful attention to their experiences and the meaning they make of them. They analyze the influence of the learning environment and how they shape it as well as the behavior of others. Critical reflection goes beyond the technical details of an experience to the personal, ethical, and social dimensions. Reflection is about change, inquiry, and equity. It is examining your underlying assumptions and the consequences of your actions. Reflection requires being conscious of all aspects of your college experience and how closely they interact with each other.
While your portfolio will consist primarily of written reflections, other types of reflection can inform your written ones as well. Throughout your college career, you will take part in many kinds of reflections-, written, oral (as in discussions), individual and collective. You will reflect on your own and collectively. Sharing with your classmates and friends is important as you become a more reflective learner. Feedback, comments, and discussion about your reflections might come from your faculty coach and/or your classmates. For example, questions from coaches, friends, and classmates can help clarify an issue for you, just as a probe or comment from your coach can help you look deeper into a situation. Each type of reflection helps to reveal and enrich your thinking and learning.
Written reflections begin with your Personal Description. Throughout this semester and beyond, you will have numerous opportunities to reflect on your learning experiences and skills, your developing habits of mind, your progress on goals, and your personal and professional development. All of these reflective activities can be used as demonstrations of your progress toward becoming a graduate of Winona State University.
Exhibits. This semester you will select two pieces of your work that document your growth highlighting one or two of the Habits of Mind. Linked to these exhibits will be your reflection on what you learned from the work you did, your challenges in creating the work, what you might do differently next time, the most important skills, knowledge, and dispositions (beliefs, attitudes, habits) you learned that you have already or will transfer to future learning experiences or activities.
Conclusion. While we give you the initial framework for your portfolio, use your creativity to make it your own within that framework. Use pictures, poetry, quotes, music, anything you can think of that will make it uniquely your own. Have fun with it over the next four years. One important caution: it's easy to get caught up in the "bells and whistles" of portfolios and forget that it is the substance of your portfolio that is important to the depth of your own learning, to your professors, to potential employers.
Your portfolio will be electronic in the long run, and most likely web-based-at least for most majors. However, this semester we will be focusing on helping you to learn the Habits of Mind and basic reflection skills. To save you time, effort, and grief later, we ask that you submit all reflections as Word documents.
Because we know that our students are smart and creative and energetic, we know that you are just the students to chart this new course at WSU as we work together to assure that potential employers will see you as the "cream of the crop" to be sought after when you graduate.
One last consideration. A portfolio is a dynamic document. Over the next four years, you will add to it, change it, and reshape it to meet your needs and goals as you get deeper into your studies and closer to adopting the habits of mind, skills, knowledge, and socially responsible attitudes and actions that are needed in the rapidly changing twenty-first century.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
S-specific. They provide a direction as well as a means.
M-measurable. Progress can be measured along the way.
A-attainable/active. They are within reasonable reach and provide a means to achieving them. (Not necessarily stated in the goal-it is something you keep in mind while creating the goal)
R-realistic/relevant. They are relevant to our current course of study. (Not necessarily stated in the goal-it is something you keep in mind while creating the goal)
T-timetable. They have a time frame in which you will achieve them.