Writing and Learning

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GWR Portfolio

The GWR Portfolio is designed to offer students an opportunity to demonstrate competence in writing skills at the upper division level by curating written documents from already-completed upper-division courses for review via a 0-unit UNIV 401: GWR Portfolio course. The GWR Portfolio includes an introductory essay along with two writing projects completed in upper-division college courses that granted Cal Poly credit. 

Portfolio Registration

Students interested in completing the GWR through the portfolio pathway should enroll in UNIV 401: GWR Portfolio. This CR/NC course is offered online only, carries a $35 course fee, and has the following prerequisites: junior standing and completion of GE Area A with grades of C- or better.

Multiple sections of UNIV 401 are offered each quarter, including summer. If one section is full, students should look for another open section in which to enroll rather than adding themselves to a closed section's waitlist. 

Important: Because portfolio materials must draw from courses that meet the criteria and for which a student has already earned a final grade of C or better, students should not enroll in UNIV 401 in a term concurrent with another upper-division course from which they intend to submit portfolio materials. 

Portfolio Criteria 

​​​​​​Portfolio Introduction 

  • Written independently in response to the prompt provided in the UNIV 401 course Canvas site.
  • Consists of 500 or more words (not including heading and title) 
  • Reflects on the student's growth as a writer and explains how Portfolio Papers #1 and #2 demonstrate that growth

Papers #1 and #2

  • Completed for an upper-division (300-, 400-, or 500-level) course(s)
    • The course must have been completed after reaching junior standing (after a student completed 90 units)
    • The course must have been completed during a prior term with a final grade of C or better posted on your transcript (a final course grade of C- is not acceptable)
    • The course must have granted Cal Poly upper-division credit (an upper-division course completed at another institution is acceptable as long as credit for the course has already been posted on your transcript)
  • Written independently in English for a graded task on which you independently earned an assignment grade a C or better (Note: No collaboratively written projects will be accepted, and a C- is not acceptable)
  • Consist of 750 or more words each (not including heading, title, tables/graphs, or bibliographic citations)
  • Consist of original work with outside sources cited appropriately
  • Demonstrate an ability to respond effectively to rhetorical situations and present information in an organized manner with fully developed supporting points expressed logically and clearly
  • Represent one of the following genres: informative or argumentative essay; summary or analysis; research paper; research or project proposal; literature review; book, film or performance review; close reading and analysis essay; policy memo; response/reaction paper; explication of a published text; technical paper; lab report; critical reflection. Important: creative fiction, poetry, short answer exams, and journal entries that combined total 750 words are not acceptable for the GWR portfolio.

 Note: Students who do not have two previously-written assignments from upper-division courses that meet the required portfolio criteria will be provided with optional writing prompts. 

Portfolio Submission

The UNIV 401: GWR Portfolio course is fully asynchronous. Detailed information about the criteria and steps for portfolio submission is available to enrolled students via Canvas.

Typically, the portfolio due date is set around mid term to allow time for evaluation and any necessary revisions before final grading is completed. A final grade of Credit in UNIV 401 constitutes completion of the university's Graduation Writing Requirement.

Have you left the San Luis Obispo area but still need to fulfill the GWR?

The Writing and Learning Initiatives Office can assist you; please contact the office for next steps.  

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Academic Preparation and Transitions

The Academic Preparation and Transitions Department plays an integral role in help incoming first-year students prepare for a successful college experience through the Early Assessment Program and the Supportive Pathways for First-Year Students program. More information is available on the Academic Preparation and Transitions webpage

Learning Support Programs

The Learning Support Programs department offers a comprehensive menu of programs and resources designed to help you navigate course expectations and achieve your learning goals: free tutoring for subjects across the curriculum, peer-led supplemental workshops and study sessions for STEM-specific courses, and an online study strategies library. More information is available on the Learning Support Programs webpage. 

Graduation Writing Requirement

All undergraduate students who are seeking a Cal Poly degree must fulfill the GWR before a diploma can be awarded. Students must have upp division standing (completed 90 units) before they can attempt to fulfill the requirement and should do so before the senior year. The two pathways to GWR completion are 1) in an approved upper-division course and 2) via the GWR Portfolio. More information is available on the GWR webpage