Faculty Advisor Tips: Portfolio Prep

Faculty Advisor Tips: Portfolio Prep

You’ve read the portfolio requirements, met with your Distinguished Communicator Candidate, and are ready to get started! Review these top tips along the way to help. 

The Timeline (according to your DC Candidate’s graduation date) 

3 semesters prior to their graduation 

  • You confirm your role as their Faculty Advisor and sign the contract.
  • You and your DC Candidate start talking about their post-graduation goals. Your primary role is to help them identify what experiences (curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular) are best to highlight for their intended audience (for some students, it may also entail helping them ID an audience.)

2 semesters prior to their graduation

  • You advise your candidate on best materials to include in their portfolio, based on their intended audience.
  • Your DC Candidate submits their draft Portfolio and self-assessment (November 1 for spring candidates/April 1 for fall candidates, sample rubric) and you complete your official assessment and feedback on their draft. CxC emails you these materials, and they are due by the end of the semester. 

Their Final Semester

  • You connect with your DC Candidate as they make final revisions to their portfolio (based on your feedback.) 
  • They submit their final Portfolio as well as a Dear Reviewer Letter detailing how they put together their portfolio and with what goals in mind (due February 1 for spring candidates/September 1 for fall candidates). 
  • You complete your final assessment of their materials, determining whether or not the student will continue into the final review round. 
    • If you do not pass your DC Candidate’s final materials, they will no longer be eligible to earn the Distinguished Communicator Medal, but will still be eligible to complete the LSU Communicator Certificate. 
    • If you do pass their materials, they are sent to the Portfolio Review Panel. Review panelists are familiar with the candidate’s field. This is a single blind review. Review Panelists will pass or fail the final materials. If the DC Candidate’s materials do not pass they will no longer be eligible to earn the Distinguished Communicator Medal, but will still be eligible to complete the LSU Communicator Certificate. If their materials pass, you will receive notice, as will the candidate, that they will be graduating as an LSU Distinguished Communicator Medalist.

person drawing a layout for a websiteAbout Portfolios: Things to Keep in Mind 

Audience: This should not be the Faculty Advisor or CxC, but the student's post-graduation audience (e.g. graduate school, service, industry, etc.)

Goal: Students should strive for real-world usability, something a graduate proudly includes in their professional materials that serves as a comprehensive representation of their skills, accomplishments, and what makes them someone their audience would want to work with. 

Organization & Design: There is no “one-size-fits-all” template here; the design and content is highly customized to DC Candidate’s field. Contents are chosen in accordance with advisor feedback on goals and audience.

Evidence of Communication Skills: The portfolio itself is a representation of multimodal communication skills - this means the written and oral language, visual design, selection and use of technology to create the portfolio, etc are all  important. It should be customized to the Candidate’s audience and goals. Each mode represented should complement the overall intentionality and skill reflected by the portfolio. The Candidate should make sure everything in both the design and content of the portfolio is audience-focused and something they are proud to include in their portfolio.  

Reflection, Collection & Curation: DC Candidates are put in a position to reflect on what they’ve experienced over the previous several years, what skills or accomplishments they’ve collected, why and how this contributes to their future path. Some things they’ve done will be obvious fits—an internship or lab experience, research or practicum that directly contributes to the world they want to enter after graduation. Other things might be less obvious fits—their study abroad, service, clubs and organizations, or coursework from a major they’ve since switched. The latter often contain organization, communication, leadership and other practical skills that are transferable. Sometimes, Candidates have experiences they are proud of but not sure how to articulate as valuable to their audience. As the Faculty Advisor, you can help them reflect on their experiences and identify what should take first priority for inclusion, which are important to include but secondary, and which are nice but not necessarily vital to include. 

General FAQs 

Does the portfolio have to explicitly delineate sections and separate files offering samples in all communication modes? 

No. All these communication skills need to be evident, but the form they take and how they are organized and represented in the portfolio is highly customized to the Candidate’s field, goals and audience. If, for example, the student is in a field that relies on data visualization and/or design work, it makes sense for them to include this in their portfolio. If a student is heading into a field intending to emphasize their writing skills, it makes sense for writing sample files/links to be included in the portfolio. Remember - the portfolio itself (i.e. the entire website) is representative of multimodal communication skills. All portfolios will by default entail use of technology, visual design, writing and speaking because the medium is part of the message. 

What makes a good example of oral communication skills in a portfolio? 

Candidates are required to include their spoken sample in the public portfolio, and this can take multiple forms. Samples (not exhaustive): a podcast, a narrated presentation or design, a recording of them giving an elevator pitch about their portfolio as a whole or about a research project they are working on. 

I am not an expert in web design. Is that OK?

Absolutely. DC Candidates also work 1-1 with their CxC Representative, who can guide them through best practices in translating personal statements, samples from courses, etc into a form and structure appropriate for the medium. 

I also serve as a Review Panelist. Will I ever be asked to review my DC Candidate’s materials twice?

No. If you are the Faculty Advisor we make sure you will not be assigned as a Review Panelist to your DC Candidate. 

What’s the difference between the CxC Representative and the Faculty Advisor? 

The Faculty Advisor participates in the final assessment. They are the insiders to the discipline who advise the candidate on materials and conventions in the candidate’s intended field. The CxC Representative provides guidance on the DC Medal process and formative feedback and on best communication practices in multimodal communication. 

What’s the difference between the LSU Communicator Certificate and the Distinguished Communicator Medal and what does this mean for a DC Advisor?

Students can opt to earn the LSU Communicator Certificate and stop there. Students pursuing the LSU Communicator Certificate only do not need a DC Faculty Advisor.  Students who take C-I courses but either choose not to participate in the DC Program or do not pass their final DC review are still able to receive recognition via the LSU Comm Cert for their accomplishments at the course level. They take certified C-I courses (B- or higher in 3 courses certified in writing, 2 in speaking, 1 in visual and 1 in tech modes) and complete a culminating reflection.

If a student wants more communication skills mentoring and recognition, they can earn the LSU Distinguished Communicator Medal, which is when they would seek a faculty advisor (like you!) DC Medalists complete the requirements for the LSU Comm Cert, but also:

  • work with a faculty advisor,
  • take a minimum of 1 ePortfolio workshop (delivered by CxC) and
  • complete their Portfolio and related materials.

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