Writing and Learning

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GWR Portfolio

The GWR Portfolio is designed to be easy-to-create using tools you already have: it’s just three files uploaded to one online Canvas page. The portfolio must include two writing projects completed in upper-division college courses that granted Cal Poly credit along with a Writing Development Reflection. 

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.

Twenty 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. If all sections of UNIV 401 are full during the same quarter as a student's expected graduation term, and the student needs to complete the GWR in order to graduate, the student may request a permission number from the Writing and Learning Initiatives Office during the add/drop period.

Portfolio Submission

The UNIV 401: GWR Portfolio course is fully asynchronous. Students enrolled in the course should read carefully the contents of each Canvas module, which provides the necessary information to compile and submit the contents by the portfolio due date. The due date allows time for assessment and any necessary revisions before the end of the quarter. A final grade of credit in UNIV 401 constitutes completion of the university's Graduation Writing Requirement.

Required Criteria 

  • One previously written assignment that is at least 750 words from any upper-division (300-, 400-, or 500-level) course that granted Cal Poly credit 
  • A second previously written assignment that is at least 750 words from any upper-division (300-, 400-, or 500-level) course that granted Cal Poly credit
  • Writing Development Reflection that is at least 500 words and meets the expectations of the reflection prompt

Assignment Specifications

  • The two previously written assignments must be graded tasks on which the student has earned a C or better;
  • The two previously written assignments must be ones that the student independently wrote - no collaborative projects will be accepted;
  • The two previously written assignments must be the student's original work and should include citations for any outside sources; 
  • The two previously written assignments should demonstrate the student's ability to respond effectively to rhetorical situations and present information in an organized manner with fully developed supporting points expressed logically and clearly;
  • The two previously written assignments may represent a different genre (an essay, research paper, proposal, annotated bibliography, technical paper, lab report) as long as the assignments meet the above specifications and criteria. Short answer exam responses or journal entries that combined total 750 words are not acceptable.

Note: If you do not have two previously-written assignments from upper-division courses that meet the required specifications and criteria, you may select one or more writing prompts from the Optional Writing Prompts to complete and submit in place of one or both of those assignments. 

Preferred Criteria  

The criteria below are not required, but some students may appreciate this additional guidance when creating their portfolios.  

  • At least one assignment was completed for an upper-division writing-intensive General Education course;
  • At least one assignment was completed for an upper-division major-specific course;
  • The writing process for the assignments included peer-review (there is no need to include reviewed drafts or peer review feedback);
  • There was an opportunity to revise the assignments after receiving feedback from the instructor (there is no need to include instructor feedback or graded copies).

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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Winter Quarter At-a-Glance


Academic Preparation and Placement

Cal Poly adheres to the CSU's placement practice, which evaluates multiple measures of pre-college academic performance to determine placement in first-year English and math courses. Cal Poly also offers summer support courses in compliance with the CSU's Early Start Program to help incoming first-year students prepare for a successful college experience. More information is available on the Academic Preparation and Placement webpage

Academic Support

The Writing and Learning Initiatives Office offers a comprehensive menu of academic resources designed to ensure optimal educational opportunities for diverse student populations: peer consultants offer free tutoring in any course or subject, peer-led supplemental workshops and study sessions provide support for STEM-specific courses, and the online Study Strategies Library offers a collection of resources to help you achieve your learning goals. More information is available on the Academic Support Programs webpage

Graduation Writing Requirement

All degree-seeking Cal Poly students, including a Master's degree or teaching credential, must fulfill the GWR. Undergraduate students must complete 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