Sunday, August 17, 2008

Graduate Work as Professional Development?

An article in one of last month's issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses our state's flagship institution's history department moving toward portfolios to replace qualifying exams for the doctorate. As author Paula Wasley states regarding her interview with Professor Eve Levin, "Historians are rarely called upon to work on a four-hour deadline without access to research or source materials, she observes. So it made little sense to evaluate students based on such an exercise."

We do not have a doctoral program but we do have a master's program that we have tweaked to better meet the needs of students as we discovered many students, including some of our best, had finished the majority of the degree requirements but put off the comprehensive exams for a variety of reasons.

It would take careful scrutiny to ensure that there was indeed reflective practice and established guidelines by each professor overseeing a particular field of study to ensure that portfolios were not the result of numerous cutting and pasting efforts from the internet. And, obviously, an online portfolio system with the possibility of a short printed guide would work best.

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