RPC Portfolio Assessment: Qualifying Examination
Doctoral candidates in Rhetoric and Professional Communication must submit a portfolio for diagnostic assessment of their scholarly writing.
The portfolio assessment: Qualifying examination
All candidates for the Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional Communication must submit a portfolio for assessment no later than the announced deadline in their third semester in the program (not including summer terms). Failure to do so will constitute lack of satisfactory progress toward the degree. Students should notify the Graduate Secretary of their intent to submit a portfolio in a particular semester.
The RPC Examinations Committee, consisting of four RPC faculty members, will set a precise deadline for each semester and announce the dates no later than the third week of the fall semester. Portfolios will be evaluated twice a year, once in the fall and again in spring semester.
If for any reason a student wishes to request a change in the procedure for the portfolio assessment (for example: extending the deadline), the student must make a written request to the Director of Graduate Education (DOGE) before the second Tuesday of the semester in which the exam is due specifying the request and providing a rationale for it. The DOGE will decide if such requests will be granted. The chair of the RPC program area and the chair of the RPC Examinations Committee will be advised of the request made if approved by the DOGE.
The portfolio presents the best scholarly work in the discipline of rhetoric and professional communication by Ph.D. graduate students in their third semester. The portfolio assessment
To prepare for the portfolio exam, students at the end of their first academic year will receive collective advice from RPC graduate faculty with whom they have studied so far. During an RPC faculty meeting at the end of the academic year, faculty with whom the student has studied will provide oral feedback to the student’s program adviser on the strengths of the student’s work so far, how the student might improve, and what courses the student might consider in the future. The adviser will then be responsible for meeting with the student to present a written summary of the advice so the student can begin preparing for the portfolio assessment. In preparing for the assessment, students are also encouraged to seek more detailed advice from other professors, as well as peers.
Students will choose representative samples of their work to include in the portfolio according to the following requirements:
A. Submit a 1,000-1,500 word reflection paper which explains the contents of the portfolio in terms of how it reflects the intellectual development of the student in the program so far. It should also be used to highlight possible paths for forthcoming research. Students are encouraged to consult with peers, professors, and program advisers about this portfolio overview.
B. Submit two artifacts of their choice, drawn from materials produced in an RPC master’s or doctoral course at Iowa State University. At least one of these artifacts must have originated in an RPC doctoral course. These materials might include such artifacts as book reviews, conference presentations, research articles, scholarly websites, and other evidence of scholarly expertise, but must keep in mind the criteria listed in the “Evaluation” section below.
Students are encouraged to consult with their advisers, as well as their peers and professors, about selecting and revising the appropriate artifacts in order to demonstrate a range of academic interests and abilities. When revising their work, students are encouraged to respond to previous feedback from professors and to refine their ideas to reflect their most current thinking about the subject matter. Additionally, students should refine their work to demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly in an academic style.
It is suggested that the entire portfolio be no shorter than 25 pages and no longer than 50 pages.
C. Submit an electronic Microsoft Word or PDF document of each of the papers to the Graduate Secretary via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They should each be in typed, double-spaced, single sided, 12-point font format. The title page of each document must include the following:
To facilitate anonymous submission to the extent possible, students should remove their names and choose one five-digit identification number for all papers. Students should realize that members of the RPC Examinations Committee may recognize papers even after the writer’s name has been removed. Instructor’s comments and grades should also be removed. To ensure that your electronic copy is anonymous, remove your name and the author identification from the properties for each file (e.g., in Windows, right click on the file > "Properties" > "Details" > "Remove Properties and Personal Information").
The Graduate Secretary will distribute the portfolios in electronic format to all members of the RPC Examinations Committee and to the student’s program adviser. Each portfolio will be evaluated by the RPC Examinations Committee. However, the student’s program adviser attends the evaluation meeting and participates in the discussion but does not vote on the success or failure of the portfolio. (If the student’s program adviser also sits on the RPC Examinations Committee, another appropriate person will be selected from the RPC faculty at large, to augment the committee). Portfolios will be evaluated according to these criteria:
a. Define a problem or issue
b. Make and support claims and subclaims
c. Cite and synthesize sources
d. Sustain a coherent argument, and
e. Use standard scholarly conventions.
After a portfolio has been evaluated, the RPC Examinations Committee will rate it either a pass or a fail and will provide a written rationale for its decision to the student within one week of the evaluation meeting. At their discretion, program advisers can notify students immediately of the committee’s decision; however, the adviser and one RPC Examinations Committee member must meet with the student as soon as possible after the written notification from the RPC Examinations Committee to discuss the written rationale and to provide additional feedback on his or her scholarly writing.
Second Portfolio Submission
When a given portfolio does not show sufficient mastery of the scholarly writing essential for achieving the Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional Communication, the student will be asked to submit a second portfolio, which, at the direction of the RPC Examinations Committee, may include different papers and analyses, or revisions of one or both of the original papers. This second portfolio must be submitted by the announced deadline the following semester.
The second portfolio will also be evaluated by the entire RPC Examinations Committee. The student's program adviser attends the evaluation meeting and participates in the discussion of the second portfolio. The Director of Graduate Education also attends the meeting as an observer, but has no vote in the matter; only members of the RPC Examinations Committee vote on the success or failure of the second portfolio. The committee will provide a written rationale for its decision within one week of the evaluation meeting, which will be transmitted to the student in a face-to-face meeting including the program adviser and at least one member of the RPC Examinations Committee. This meeting will take place within two weeks of the RPC Examinations Committee’s decision.
Students who fail to pass the second portfolio assessment will no longer be able to continue in the program but can serve out his/her teaching contract for the remainder of the academic year.
Grievances regarding the portfolio assessment
Students who believe they have legitimate reasons to appeal the decision of the RPC Examinations Committee may follow the grievance procedure outlined in the Graduate College Handbook under “Grievances Related to Scholarly and Professional Competence.”