Instructions For Preparing Your Portfolio

As part of completing a major in computer science at Westmont, you are required to create and maintain an online portfolio. Even if you are not majoring in CS, you will benefit from knowing how to create and maintain a website.

Overview

In the computer science major at Westmont, we attempt to emphasize the unchanging principles on which practices (techniques) and specific technologies (e.g., programming languages, von Neuman architectures) are based. As such, we will never even mention some content and skills that are indeed important to any computer science professional. (Some of that content does not even exist today but will by the time you graduate.) We assume that students will learn to acquire knowledge and skills when and where they are needed and appropriate. We intend for students to gain experience with this kind of self-guided and “just-in-time” learning during their years at Westmont.

Thus, one requirement for the CS major is to create and maintain an online portfolio. The portfolio will eventually contain a comprehensive summary of your educational, research and practicum experience during your education at Westmont. Serving as a living resume, students will include links to courses, papers, projects and other significant units of work that they have completed. The portfolio is created in a student's first CS class and is updated and refined through subsequent courses and reviews. The culmination and final evaluation of the online portfolio takes place in the Senior Seminar (CS195), a required course for all CS majors and minors.

We expect the effort you invest will return dividends in several ways. First, you will acquire knowledge and experience with web design. This is becoming an assumed skill in today's world similar to current presumptions regarding people's fluency with email, word processing, or spreadsheet software. Second, it will give you experience reflecting on your accomplishments and presenting those accomplishments. In other words, this exercise gives you experience preparing a resume. We anticipate that you will use your portfolio as the basis for your resume when applying for summer internships or for employment after graduating. The portfolio will provide a great opportunity to make a strong impression during an interview. Commonly, an interviewer will ask you to describe a significant project that you have completed. The portfolio will give applicants an opportunity to show and even demonstrate work that they have completed.

Expectations

Initially, the portfolio will be very simple. Starting with a student's first course, she will add structure and content as required by the instructor. A logical structure for the front page of a portfolio might be reminiscent of a traditional resume. Such an index page would minimally include: your name, something about you, sections on the computer science and mathematics classes you have taken (preferably as links to separate pages), and a link to your resume in pdf. However, we want students to be creative with their portfolios, while maintaining a professional tone. The key is to use it as a vehicle to convey to prospective employers or graduate school admission committees the knowledge, skills, and experiences that you have acquired.

By the time of the Senior Seminar, the portfolio should be well crafted and essentially complete. We will evaluate portfolios at that time according to their coherence, completeness, and creativity. For coherence, we will look for logical structure and grouping of material. For completeness, we will expect prominent placement of all required elements and reasonable additions to those. For creativity, we will assess how well a student packaged her particular experience in a novel but effective manner.

Required Elements

We hope students will exercise considerable thought and creativity in the design and construction of your portfolio. However, by the time a student graduates, all portfolios must have certain elements in one form or another (but in one that is readily identifiable).