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Environmental Studies

Your Digital Portfolio

Your entire digital scholarship site is a living portfolio of your unfolding work in environmental studies and at Lewis & Clark College. But, more immediately, you may be asked by your instructor to create a digital portfolio for your course or for a project. Below are some guidelines to follow, and at bottom are links to some sample portfolios you could consider.

Guidelines

Your course or project portfolio is a page on your site that quickly summarizes and links to all related content. It should be the first page a visitor encounters when they go to your course or project. Here is a step by step. (These guidelines assume you are using WordPress, but won’t differ much if you are on other platforms.)

  1. Start a new page (vs. post). Remember, posts are for most of your time-based content (e.g., a reflection post processing course material from the last week), whereas pages are for content not tied to a particular time. (WP.com users: this page could be a new portfolio item, but only if you plan to create multiple portfolio items for several of your courses and projects.)
  2. Give it a clear title. This will become the link text on your menu, but you can change it in menu settings if it’s too long. Typically the title is just the course name. 
  3. Put descriptive info at top. For instance, if it’s a course, list the course number and name, and the semester and year. Then provide a quick (and informative/interesting) summary of the course, remembering that the reader may not know anything about it; or, if it’s a project, put a quick project abstract here.
  4. If your portfolio is in progress (i.e., during the semester), put a note to this effect toward the top. It’s okay to display an in-progress portfolio, but make sure the reader knows 
  5. Summarize and link to all related resources. The bulk of the page is where you quickly summarize and link to all outcomes you developed as part of the course or project. Here are some hints:
    • Give this material some narrative structure; i.e., tell the story of your course or project. Don’t just list this and that. You may end up organizing the structure chronologically, topically, or otherwise, but make sure it conveys the central message you want to tell about the course/project. A good way to do this involves creative use of your introduction and conclusion to tie it all together.
    • You will tell your own story (narrative) of the course or project, but this is not the place to venture your own beliefs or opinions. Try to focus on a creative way of telling the reader what the course or project is, and what you have done.
    • Make sure to link to all outcomes. You want your reader to be able to access everything you did. Feel free to highlight more important outcomes or link to post archives (both below), but don’t be selective. Let your reader discover the full process and product(s) of your course or project.
    • Feel free to link to related resources. In addition to your own work, you may want to link to publicly available resources that illustrate some important related material.
    • Use headings, bullets, and other ways to condense and organize material. You may include summaries and links as part of a traditional paragraph structure, but feel free to use other ways to convey course resources more concisely.
    • Use images, charts, maps, and other visuals! A big bunch of text is far less visually interesting than text that includes course-related imagery. If the image is to a significant outcome, make sure to include a caption, and to expand the image to fuller size in a new window. Right- or left-alignment will help text flow around these images.
    • Use post category archives where appropriate. If you are talking about a certain set of posts (e.g., those you did as weekly syntheses), you may link to each and every post, or you may link only to certain ones you find especially important, then link to the category archive for those posts so that the reader can get to them all at once. (Note: it’s generally best to display post archives in excerpt vs. full format so that readers can see summaries of all related posts; to do this, you’ll need a theme that supports blog excerpts, then set excerpts under Content Options.)
    • Highlight or feature your main outcomes. If it’s a course where you did a lot of posts but one big project, you want the reader to appreciate all of it…but not to miss your big project outcome! Visual organization can help you do this.
    • Consider Gutenberg or other page builders. WordPress is moving to a page editor called Gutenberg that will give you opportunities to lay out your page in blocks—a more visually interesting look than typical paragraphs. If you have your own hosted site or an advanced WP.com plan, you can install a page builder plugin like Beaver Builder to do this too.
    • Don’t go too long! It’s understandable to feel that more is better, but it really isn’t if you want to keep your reader’s attention. Be concise, not verbose. 
  6. Now, make this page the landing page for this course or project in your menu. If you are taking ENVS 160, for instance, a visitor to your site would go to this page if they click “ENVS 160” on your menu. (You may wish to make this and other course landing pages as submenu items under a general “Courses” menu header.) This page will be the start or launch page for their journey through all your course-related outcomes. You may want to create submenu items from this launch page that link to certain category archives or outcomes, but keep your portfolio page as the obvious place readers would start.
  7. Have others visit your site and offer feedback. Finally, get your friends and family to visit your site and provide comments; you may learn that what’s obvious, easy to find, etc. to you may not be to others! Remember, a portfolio is an act of communication, just not organization; this is a good way to see if you are communicating effectively.
Sample portfolios

Following the hibernation of ds.lclark.edu in spring 2018, many examples of student portfolios are unfortunately unavailable. But we did archive a few key websites, including representative student sites, and from these we can offer some sample portfolios for you to consider. These portfolios are organized below for our ENVS 160 and 220 core courses, and for senior capstone projects. Note!: not all links from these portfolios work, depending on where original resources were stored.

  • ENVS 160 (Introduction to Environmental Studies). Prior to 2018-19, ENVS 160 students posted portfolios as posts on a private group site, following a variety of expectations. One good example is a roadmap approximately 40 students posted from ENVS 160 spring 2017, following the prompt “Provide upcoming students a narrative roadmap to find their way successfully through ENVS 160, linking to all your work on this site and offering them any guidance and encouragement you believe will be useful for their journey.” (Current students may note that readings and assignments have changed slightly since then.) In addition, you may want to view simple text portfolios for ENVS 160 developed by Jesse Simpson, Kara Scherer, or Hannah Smay (all ’17).
  • ENVS 220 (Environmental Analysis). ENVS students generally developed their own sites as part of ENVS 220 in past, so here you will start to see more fully developed course portfolios linking to labs, projects, concentrations, and general posts. Some examples include the 220 portfolios for Blake SlattengrenTasha Addington-Ferris, or Jay Chu (all ’18), and Kara Scherer or Jesse Simpson (both ’17).
  • Senior capstone projects. ENVS students have also developed portfolios of their course projects, of which the most significant is their senior capstone. More recent portfolios utilized page builders (see guidelines above) to develop a more advanced layout; some examples include the capstones for Blake SlattengrenTasha Addington-Ferris, or Jay Chu (all ’18). For a variety of other projects, including capstones, please browse archived student sites for many examples.