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Preparing Your Portfolio

Engl 516 class, Maya Duratovic, Kristen McPeek PhotoThe portfolio is the culminating activity for your M.A. in Technical Communication degree. It must contain five or six substantial samples of your work that best demonstrate your ability to produce several types of effective technical communication. Students have submitted portfolios to complete their MATC degrees for decades. The one-credit course ENGL 592 (graded with Pass or Fail) allows you to complete the final MATC degree requirement. You should sign up for the ENGL 592 course taught by your advisor in the semester when you want to graduate.

As of Fall 2017, students are required to complete the following experiences for ENGL 592:

  • Submit their portfolios to two MATC faculty members for review, revision, and approval.
  • Present their portfolios to an audience of technical-communication students.
  • Share their portfolios informally with a working communications professional (the “outside reader”) for discussion and feedback.

How do I submit my portfolio?

You should submit your portfolio digitally, either through a shared folder on a platform like Google Docs or Dropbox, or perhaps on a website or wiki. Whatever you create must be self-contained; it should not link to content you don’t control. We must be able to archive a digital copy of your work at Boise State. Please contact your advisor to discuss which mode(s) of delivery would be most appropriate for your portfolio, as well as a timeline to complete your portfolio.

Who reads my portfolio?

Two MATC faculty members will review your portfolio. The first is your advisor, who is also your ENGL 592 instructor. The second will be selected by the MATC program director.

Your advisor will make the first round of comments. After your advisor approves, you will share the portfolio with the second faculty member. After the second faculty member approves, you will be ready to present your portfolio to an audience of technical-communication students and to the outside reader.

The outside reader you identify should be a professional whose work activities and interests are similar to your own. This person will comment informally on your portfolio, but the two faculty members are the ones who will evaluate your portfolio thoroughly.

What do I put in my portfolio?

Your portfolio should include an overview, a résumé, and samples of your work.

Overview

This document introduces your portfolio. Each person’s overview will vary, but all should answer several questions:

  • What is your professional background?
  • Why did you enter the MATC program?
  • What are the most significant things you learned in the MATC that you will carry forward in your career?
  • What pieces have you included in your portfolio?

Résumé

Include a current professional résumé. This is a technical document in its own right; ensure that it provides useful information and reflects appropriate principles of typography and layout.

Samples of Your Work

You should submit five or six substantial samples of your work in technical communication. These may be prior course assignments, documents you produced at work or in an internship, or documents created for some other organization or project. If you created a document as an intern or an employee, secure permission before including it in your portfolio.

You may submit one or two documents created collaboratively if you created a substantial portion of each one and you specify what you did.

You should write a separate introduction for each work sample. Each introduction should describe the rhetorical situation for each work sample, explain the choices you made in creating it, and reflect on what you learned from creating it. If the document is static and you can’t update it, explain any changes you would make if you could revise it. If you can revise the document, explain the choices you made when doing so.

As an example of the above, please see this portfolio created by MATC graduate Anna Lee. The collection of documents you include, and how you present them, may vary. Please consult with your advisor if you have any questions.

How will I schedule my presentation to students?

At the beginning of your ENGL 592 semester, you will identify dates and times that you expect to be available for your presentation in weeks 11–14 of the semester. Your advisor will consult with the director of the MATC program to identify technical-communication classes that meet during those times. Your advisor will then coordinate with the instructor of a class that meets at the appropriate time to schedule your presentation.

Your presentation should last 20–25 minutes, plus time for questions from the audience. Your presentation should demonstrate that you have met the following MATC learning outcome (#7): Plan, design, and deliver rhetorically appropriate oral communication. Your ENGL 592 instructor (your advisor) will evaluate your presentation and determine if you have completed it successfully. Communicate with your advisor early to ensure you understand the criteria for evaluation.

How will I get feedback from the outside reader?

Early in your ENGL 592 semester, you must work with your advisor to identify someone working as a professional communicator to give you feedback on your portfolio as an outside reader. You will share your portfolio with this person after your two faculty members have approved it.

The outside reader you identify should be a professional whose work activities and interests are similar to your own. Such people might include technical writers, technical editors, grant writers, usability specialists, proposal specialists, corporate communication experts, and so on. This person should not be someone you already know well; use this opportunity to expand your professional network.

After you have identified someone whom your advisor approves, ask this person if he or she will review your portfolio and provide you with informal feedback (via phone, email, in-person meeting, or video chat). The content of this feedback does not impact your grade, but you are required to receive this feedback. The outside reader should contact your advisor via email or phone to confirm having reviewed your portfolio and having talked with you about it.