Reaching out for help: Sophomore Portfolio Review 2020

Posted on Jun 1st, 2020 by Sean Schumacher

A statement from the PSUGD faculty regarding the 2020 Sophomore Portfolio Review

This term, and the past few weeks in particular, is unlike any we’ve ever experienced, and we know how deeply events like the pandemic and now the social unrest are affecting all of you. We know that the Review is coming at a challenging time with what is happening across the country and here in Portland. While it is not possible to delay the Review itself, know that we as faculty are here to support you if you are impacted by the events of the past week.

Prior to 2019, the review occurred the 10th week of spring term each year; moving it to finals week was in part to help students have a greater time to prepare materials for review, but has limited our options. We have already pushed the Portfolio Review back as late as it can be situated, but it is unfortunately not possible to situate an academic deadline outside of the academic year. The reasons go beyond us: they are determined by the President, the Provost, and the faculty unions, and others beyond our station.

Portfolios are not just scored by your full-time faculty alone. It takes the concentrated energy and output of our whole teaching community and the better part of a week (and sometimes longer) to review and check over every portfolio multiple times. Neither PSU’s full-time faculty nor adjuncts are on year-round contracts; the 9-month appointments standard within the university expire shortly after the term ends. Adjunct faculty themselves are on term-by-term contracts; once the academic year has ended, they are no longer PSU employees and cannot perform any duties until the start of a new contract.

Nearly 160 students are registered for the review as of this writing. We understand that as a public university, the majority of our students have responsibilities outside of school that they have set aside to meet this deadline already. A great many have been preparing for the review day and night for weeks. Registration for 300-level GD courses are restricted until after the review is complete, which not only affects all students who need to plan their schedules, but also the faculty who are also unable to plan for next year until final review numbers have been tabulated.

The Sophomore Portfolio Review affects far more than current PSU students, too—our transfer student population would be particularly hard hit, having to await the results of the review to know whether they will attend Portland State. Many do not follow all our social media or email channels and would not see the updated schedule in a timely fashion. Making deadline adjustments is difficult this close to an event even in ideal circumstances.

Many steps have already been taken to help support students through the review this year. The all-digital portfolio more closely mirrors professional practice, but also is intended to ease the financial burden on students participating the review. The submission window this year has been extended from the two hours given in previous years to nearly 8 full days, and we believe that giving more time and space for them to complete projects benefits all of our Sophomores. One thing we can say is we encourage all students to submit whatever they have completed by the deadline.

Despite not being able to delay the Review itself, we do want all of you to know what we can do to be as accommodating as possible. For any student who is facing particular hardship, please encourage them to reach out directly to one of the full-time faculty members here in GD. Kate, Briar, Meredith, Stephen, Sean, and Cielle are all here for all of you, and we can help if we know what is going on. We do understand that there will be students who may be severely impacted, especially our BiPOC students, and we would like to be able to speak to these students one-on-one, as there are things we can potentially do for students in the most challenging of situations.