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The Carletonian

Senior Survey results regarding Writing Portfolio were flopped

<u’re like me, you’ve probably complained about the Writing Portfolio. And if you’ve had debates with faculty or administration, you’ve probably heard a surprising statistic: over 70% of graduating seniors in 2007 rated the Writing Portfolio as a useful experience at Carleton. Well, as it turns out, they didn’t. In fact, they said the complete opposite.

The 2007 Senior Survey asked students if the Writing Portfolio was useful based on a 5-point scale. Because of a coding error in the survey, the results were essentially flopped (1 represented “strongly agree” instead of “strongly disagree,” etc.). After adjusting for this error, only 27% of seniors rated the experience as useful. While this discovery may not surprise you, it is unnerving to think that evaluations of the Writing Portfolio have been influenced by faulty data. Further, this error went unnoticed for over a year.

When Carleton polled again in 2008, only 21% of seniors rated the Portfolio as useful. Obviously students are unsatisfied. Still, the Writing Portfolio was recently reincorporated into a developing plan for future graduation requirements. If this plan is going to be a success, drastic modifications of the Portfolio are necessary. I encourage the members of the Education and Curriculum Committee and the Writing Advisory Committee to continue to speak with students about why they think the Portfolio is useless.

Colleges fail when they stop being responsive to the students. Carls do not think the Portfolio is useful and this requirement has to change. From conversations with Dean Ciner, I am optimistic that the ECC is still open to new ideas and that the Portfolio can still change. I hope that the Portfolio of the future resembles little of the past.

Dedicated to Grader #30

-Matt Pieh is a third-year student

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