Q: What is a Signature Assignment? A: A signature assignment is one that addresses two or more of the College-wide student learning outcomes(LO), constitutes a “real-world” application of knowledge, and is accompanied by some reflective writing. It is not an additional assignment, but one that your instructors have already incorporated into their courses.
Q: What are some examples of signature assignments? A: Except for exams and quizzes, most of the kinds of assignments faculty already give in Gen Ed courses would meet the definition of a signature assignment. For instance, any of the following--when accompanied by a few paragraphs of reflective writing--would be ideal for inclusion into an ePortfolio:
Essays, response papers, lab reports or research papers all tap discipline-specific knowledge (Learning Outcome #1) and effective communication (LO #2), and possibly quantitative literacy (LO #3) if the subject requires students to perform data analysis.
Solution to a realistic Math problem that asks students to write about the process of solving the problem, the relevance of the problem, and/or the application of the problem solving skill to other issues or areas of life. The problem addresses quantitative literacy (LO #3) and critical thinking (LO #4).
Photos, graphics, or three-dimensional artwork can all be represented in an ePortfolio and likely address discipline knowledge (LO #1) and the creative aspects of critical thinking (LO #4).
Service-learning or field study experiences clearly address discipline knowledge (LO #1). Service- learning addresses civic engagement, which is part of LO #5, and field studies might address any of the other learning outcomes.
Powerpoints, spreadsheets, databases, and webpages can all be represented in--or linked to--the Gen Ed ePortfolio, and may tap any of the college-wide learning outcomes.
Poetry, fiction, pamphlets, posters, and other forms of writing address discipline knowledge (LO #1) and the creative aspects of critical thinking (LO #4).
Products of group projects can be excellent signature assignments, allowing students to demonstrate the portion of LO #5 dealing with the ability to “work with others in a professional and constructive manner” as well as any of the other learning outcomes.
Q: What else can might you do for signature assignments? A: A number of faculty have students build really elaborate course pages or mini-websites within their ePortfolio as the signature assignment. Students in ENGL 2010, for example, use the ePortfolio to create an online magazine of their writing--and the Editor's Note to the magazine serves as the reflective writing. In POLS 2100, students create informative websites instead of writing traditional papers.
Q: How many signature assignments should you put in your Gen Ed ePortfolio? A: At least one per class. Instructors will often tell you which course assignment will be the signature assignment for the course, or they will have students produce/create several potential signature assignments during the semester and ask students to put their best one in the ePortfolio. Students can also put in one assignment from early in the course and one from later in the course, as a way for them to demonstrate their progress. Follow the signature assignment instructions that your instructors give you.
Q: Are there advantages to having more than one signature assignment? A: Yes. The more you interact with the ePortfolio, the more confident you will feel in connecting your learning, reflecting on that learning, collecting evidence of that learning, and showcasing it in your ePortfolio. Additional signature assignments allow you to demonstrate a broader range of learning outcomes.