Portfolio Assigments: What’s the point?

I have been reading some of your blog posts, and realized that I need to post the criteria for the assignment on this blog. I noticed that most of you are not discussing concepts from the course. Please bear in mind that the discussion of concepts is part of the grade.

I’ll add to this that you should feel free to edit your blog posts at any time, so if you haven’t discussed a concept because you weren’t thinking about that, you can always revisit the post later. So far, I’m really pleased with the quality of what I’m reading, and with your enthusiasm for popular culture. Now you just need to take it to the next level, and if you’re wondering why, all I can say is that the best writing about popular culture happens when the author brings in more to the table than his/her opinion.

Here are the criteria for the assignment (based on Danielle Stern’s portfolio guidelines… kudos to her!):

A portfolio is a collection of artifacts — documents, articles, video, etc. —, and reflections about those artifacts. The purpose of the portfolio is to illustrate, support or contradict the key ideas explored throughout the course. You can find these ideas in lectures, discussion, readings and videos. Whatever catches your attention can be your springboard. Examples can include statements such as: “There could be no mass culture until there were masses” (Macdonald, 1962, p. 13), or “Jon Stewart makes cynicism attractive; indeed, he makes it profitable” (Hart & Hartelius, 2007, p. 263).  Bear in mind that the most important aspect of the portfolio is not the artifacts, but your reflections, what you think about as you read, or what comes to mind while you’re watching a youtube video that just reminds you of something discussed in class, even if you can’t quite peg what that something is. If it bugs you, explore it, but remember: What is important is how you use the artifacts to answer questions like:

  • What does this artifact say about masculinity/femininity?
  • How does this artifact explain the relationship between popular culture and consumption?
  • How does this artifact help us understand the role of social networks in American politics?

These are only examples, but there could be more questions that you can come up on your own.

Here are some examples of artifacts:

  • Description of a scene for a television program, video clip, video game.
  • Link to a photograph, cartoon, drawing, or illustration.
  • An article from a magazine, newspaper, etc., of an excerpt from it.
  • Information from a relevant website.
  • Quotes from well-known individuals.
  • Entries in Wikipedia. However, bear in mind that you should find at least one credible external source that backs up the Wikipedia entry.
  • Screen captures of a twitter feed, online game, Facebook feed, chat.

Please make an effort to find and post examples from a variety of sources and types, as this will be taken into account when I evaluate your portfolios. Your portfolio must include a total of 20 artifacts. 10 ARTIFACTS WILL BE PART OF YOUR MIDTERM GRADE. The portfolio should include the following types of posts:

  • An introduction stating who you are, what your interest in popular culture is, and what your overall goals for the course are. Please use the blog’s “about” page for this entry.
  • Personal reflections (minimum one post per week), where you analyze popular culture artifacts in light of the concepts we discuss in class.
  • Reflections on classmates’ entries (minimum one post per week). The purpose of these reflections is for you to use the blog as a virtual forum. Hence, you are expected to contribute at least one entry per week that expands on something one of the blog contributors (including the instructor) has posted. If you post the comment directly on the contributor’s page, make sure you copy and paste it as a new post on your own blog (for ease of grading).
  • Final reflection (one entry at the end of the quarter – due 11/12/09 by 5 pm.). The final entry summarizes the key insights you have learned from this process. You should review your previous posts and course materials in order to produce this final entry. The final reflection should be approximately 500 words in length.

I recommend that you make it a habit to post on your blog weekly. Otherwise the point of the assignment, which is for you to reflect on the material as we go along, is completely lost. If I notice that people are not keeping up, I reserve the right to take 5 points off for each late posting. I will give feedback and assign grades to portfolios on two occasions: Oct 13 and at the end of the quarter. Your grade will be based on the following criteria: (1) You present a variety of sources and artifact types (at least 2); (2) The artifacts and reflections are relevant to the course, and you present sufficient evidence to support the connection; (3) The artifacts and reflections identify key concepts from the course; (4) less than 3 spelling and grammatical mistakes; (5) the reflections are at least two paragraphs in length.

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