Competencies, Projects, & Portfolios

Course wiki pages
Projects you are currently working on
Portfolios completed or in process

What do you receive for your work? We don't give grades, credits, degrees, or diplomas. So what good is this education? First of all, one doesn't really get an education. That's a misleading shorthand for what one learns and what one becomes. Students here learn this much about learning and education.

But we recognize the need in the non-college world to prove oneself worthy of trust, funding, or employment. Hence, in the interest ultimately of producing portfolios as records of your education, here's the story.

1 Competencies

As needed, teachers will identify competencies that students may expect from completing a course. This will be especially true of skills courses, but may also apply to others. The nature of the course competency will depend largely on the kind of work one does in the course: writing, collaborative discussion, performance, art, recording, building, chronicling, narrating … what else?

2 Capstone Projects

One of the distinctive features of the learning processes in the college is that teachers encourage the design and execution of capstone projects for both organized classes and independent studies. These projects can serve as the basis for further independent work or can be continued and extended in later classes or lead to work outside the college. The kind of project will depend partly on the content of the course and partly on the inclinations and existing skills of the student. There will likely also be some call for collective projects.

A student is also welcome to formulate a closing capstone project that will express and summarize the trajectory and themes of her educational experience.

3 Portfolios

In any case, for those students who wish, the teachers of the college will help build portfolios from the projects produced for any or all classes. It has long been argued by educational radicals that a portfolio of work is a better record of educational experiences, even if more cumbersome to disseminate, than course names and grades (or worse, GPAs) on a standard transcript. Portfolios are also more indicative of what was learned than a degree in a major field. Portfolios constitute an invitation for others to ask about one's growth.

The portfolios can be used in a variety of ways: as a record of education for those seeking employment, as a basis for forming collaborative projects with others, as evidence in grant applications, as an archive for one's personal story, and more besides.

There is no single format for portfolios; they should reflect the variety and kind of projects contained in them. Teachers, however, can assist students by identifying some best practices, providing feedback in composing portfolio narratives, suggesting models, and asking critical and clarifying questions. In any case, they will present your competencies in their best light and in intricate detail.

Portfolios may contain both representatives of the development of the student as well as best works. It will likely include individual and collective projects, images and writings and performances. Their format may be paper, electronic (including video and audio), or as a website. In the end, they constitute an art work in themselves.

As you begin to form an idea of "graduating" or of moving on, and want to assemble a portfolio, speak with a teacher. He or she should be someone you have studied or worked with and who can be of most use in producing in the portfolio a work of art.

There is no standard procedure, and the development of a portfolio is not required. It can however be useful in going on from the college to a new work and a new community.

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