Whether you are in high school or in college, having a system to organize your course work will set the foundation for success in your courses. Keeping an organized course portfolio for each class can help with homework, studying for exams, and reference for the next course in a sequence. In the long term, having organized work can assist with future courses, standardized test preparation and professional licensing. These portfolios can also serve as sample work for college applications, graduate school admissions, job applications and scholarship applications. A portfolio could be created with a simple three ring binder or electronically using PDF documents.
The cover to a course portfolio should include:
- Course name
- Course number
- Course term and date
- Instructor name
- Your name
To save time, consider creating a template in a word processing document so that information for each course can be easily entered and saved.
Table of Contents
The basics of a Table of Contents is to assist you in finding the information that is included within the portfolio. At a minimum, this page will include the titles of each section of the portfolio. These sections are listed below in bold. If you want to add detail to the table of contents, a suggestion is to add subtitles to each section. The Lecture Notes section, for example, would include the topics of each lecture, and the Lab section would include the titles to each lab.
The lecture note section of the portfolio is where you gather and store the lesson information that is presented in the classroom. The material is placed chronologically in the portfolio. Lessons may be provided in a visual presentation software such as PowerPoint or Google Slides, PDF or another file. Some instructors may not provide lesson outlines or notes, as they may feel a student is more engaged and likely to retain material if they create their own notes.
The content of the Lecture Note section will include:
- Lesson outlines provided by instructor
- Your notes (these may be handwritten, markups on a PDF, notes added to a visual presentation file file, or notes added to other files the instructor provides)
The instructor may provide handout or additional files to supplement their lecture materials.
The instructor may include reference material that they used to prepare their lecture, or material that the student can refer to for additional reinforcement.
- Current articles can be helpful to reinforce the lecture materials and add interest to the material being presented.
- Other materials provided by instructor
- Reference material
Chronologically placed in portfolios
Original assignment sheet
Chronologically placed in portfolio
Exam cover sheet with material, lectures and chapters covered
Chronologically placed in portfolio
Lab team member names
Formal lab write-up
Lab lecture notes
Handwritten notes and data collection
Photos of procedure and results
Having organized files on your hard drive and on a network is equally important. Providing structure to the way the work is saved and titled helps students access their work when assignments are due, study for exams and reference work in the future.
- Make one main file devoted to your schoolwork. Title this folder with your school name. Add subfolders with the school year or term. For example, “Spring 2020.”
- Within the term file, create a subfolder for each class you take. (Tip: Use the full name of the class, i.e., “AE 1001 Freshman Seminar.” If that’s too long, use the department abbreviation and course number, i.e., “AE 1001.”)
- Each class will have similar subfolders to keep specific material. These folders will likely include Lecture Notes, Handouts, Assignments, Exams and Labs. The files within these files will have a clear and unique name starting with the category followed by the details of the file. For example, lecture notes from the sixth lecture may be titled “Lecture 6.” Your instructor may require a particular file-name structure that includes your name if the work is being submitted via e-mail or a cloud-based workspace such as Dropbox or Box. To ensure that your work will be accepted for full credit, pay attention to the guidelines provided in your syllabus, in class, or within the course.
- Save your final file to the appropriate course folder. You may consider saving to your own drive and backing up to the cloud, or an external drive to protect your work.
Keeping course work organized is a critical aspect of a student’s success. Guiding them through this process a few times will help them build structure for future success and independence. An organized course portfolio can serve as application and scholarship material, be used for reference for future courses and careers, as well as a reference for standard testing and professional licensing.