Math.321.001 Differential Equations Fall 2016
Course Portfolio

Overview:  Each student is encouraged (but not required) to maintain a course portfolio during the semester.   It provides a way to document and organize your work in the course.  If you decide not to compile a portfolio, your grade will be based on two exams (30% each) and the final (40%).  The only way to get "credit" for your homework and other assignments is by compiling a portfolio, and completing a portfolio cannot lower your grade.  The questions and answers below give additional information about the course portfolio.

Q: Is the portfolio required?
No. You can choose not to do one if you wish.

Q: How will not doing a portfolio affect my grade?
If you do not do a portfolio, your grade will be based on the exams, and you will get no direct credit for other work you may do in the course.

Q: What if I get a B on my portfolio but have an A average on exams?
Your portfolio grade cannot lower your course average. Your final grade will be based on whichever is higher: your average including the portfolio, or just your exam average alone.

Q: How do I make my portfolio?
It should be in a three ring binder,  with separate sections for the following categories:

These should be organized with tabbed separators, in the order listed above,  so that it is easy for me to turn to whichever section I want to review.  All materials should be punched and placed on the rings, and not included in pockets of the binder, or pockets or covers that have been placed on the rings of the binder.  Assigned problems from each section of the text should be stapled together with the section number clearly identified on the first page, and included in the binder in the order assigned. 

Any other materials not listed above, such as notes from class or your reading, assignment sheets, handouts, etc, can optionally be included in the portfiolio, but these will not be reviewed.  Please keep this material at the back of the portfolio, clearly designated, so I don't have to search through it to find the parts I am looking for. 

NOTE:  I need portfolios to be assembled as described above and consistently organized in order to review the portfolios efficiently during an in-class exam.  If your portfolio does not meet the above requirements, I will not review it during the exam.  In this case, your review sheet will simply indicate that the portfolio has not been assembled as instructed.

Q: How are portfolios graded?
I will review portfolios during each exam to assess a student's effort and progress throughout the course.  No grade will be assigned during these reviews, but comments and suggestions will provide you feedback about how I view the quality of your portfolio.

A the end of the course I will assign an overall portfolio score.  This will be a subjective evaluation based on the work for the entire semester.  An 'A' portfolio will show a consistent record of high quality work: regular homework assignments and lab writeups done neatly, correctly, and on time;  any class worksheets, activities, or  projects done carefully and conscientiously; complete and accurate exam solutions. I do not demand that you do every problem of every assignment, but I do expect to see a consistent investment of work throughout the course. Neatness and appearance for written work also count. Aside from the added work for me to evaluate papers that are sloppy or hard to read, the neatness and appearance of your work has an impact on how that work is judged. If you turn in soiled, wrinkled pages, with ragged edges, and with many scratchouts and messy writing, or if you consistently are late handing in assignments, or if you leave many assignments undone or partially done, all of these detract from an impression of careful and diligent attention to the course.

Q: How many points are counted for each homework assignment, quiz, project, etc?
There is no point system for this work. It all contributes to an overall impression of the quality of your efforts and accomplishments. Your portfolio grade is an overall judgment of your work for the semester, and takes into account all of the assigned work.

Q: When the portfolios are reviewed during exams, how does that figure into the portfolio grade?
When I assign a final grade to the portfolio, I will take into consideration work over the whole course. The review comments help me distinguish between the student who consistently works throughout the semester, and one who simply crams at the end of the course to put as much as possible into a portfolio. If an early review indicates that improvements are needed, that doesn't necessarily count against you in the end, as long as you make the improvements indicated, and compile a significant record of good work over the entire semester. On the other hand, if you receive a consistent record of review comments indicating deficiencies in the portfolio, do not expect a high portfolio grade for the semester.

Q: If the portfolio doesn't end up being counted, what is the point of doing it?
A: Grades are always an imperfect reflection of the experience of taking a course. The assignments in this course are supposed to give you an opportunity to learn the important ideas, concepts, and viewpoints, and to contribute to a rich intellectual experience. These activities are worthwhile for what you get by doing them. Taking the effort to organize them into a portfolio simply provides a means for you to demonstrate to others (me) what you have done. Moreover, making a consistent effort on assigned work should result in a higher exam average, and keeping that work organized should make it more useful for review and exam preparation. So, keeping up your portfolio has direct and indirect benefits beyond any specific points it contributes to your grade.