Project/Course Portfolio: Writing a Reflective Cover Letter

 Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Robert Fornal

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Robert Fornal

In a portfolio, your goal is to reflect on how and why you have grown as a writer through the processes in this project and/or course. The focus will be on your self-evaluation and reflection as a writer and learner.

Components of a Course Portfolio

Most portfolios are made up of two major components:

  • The Reflective Cover Letter, and
  • All of the work in the project/course compiled in your portfolio site.

Features of a Reflective Cover Letter

Your Reflective Cover Letter is basically a piece of source-based writing, much like a research paper that you might turn in for another class. The research you are conducting, however, is on your own writing and progress, and you are investigating how well you have done this semester and what you still want to work on. You are not required to use any outside sources for this project; your primary resource is your own experience and knowledge of yourself as a growing writer. However, you will want to discuss specific elements from the course as evidence to demonstrate your learning. Consider using the following as evidence of your learning:

  • Writing Projects,
  • Various Reflection Assignments, and
  • Other Homework.

While it doesn’t need to be as formal as a piece of academic writing, you should still follow the conventions of standard English in terms of grammar, usage, and sentence structure. Also, you don’t need to cite your sources, but you should refer to specific assignments when discussing your mastery of these outcomes.


1. Write a Reflective Cover Letter in which you evaluate yourself using the project/course outcomes and your personal course goals as criteria. For each outcome and/or goal discuss:

  • what you learned
  • where your learning is demonstrated in the project/course
  • why and how you still need to grow in that area
  • how, when, where and why you might use this information or skill in the future.

Specifically, demonstrate how well you have achieved the outcomes of the project/course, using your own writing as evidence.

Note: Please note, this is not a letter about the class or the instructor. It should evaluate your personal progress with the specific course outcomes.

Tip: If you are developing an electronic/digital portfolio, you might want to use hyperlinks in your reflective cover letter to link to the specific projects and activities you reference in your letter.

2. Share-out: Post a copy of your reflective cover letter (or a link to it) below in the comments thread.

15 thoughts on “Project/Course Portfolio: Writing a Reflective Cover Letter

  1. Chem442s15j

    This class was the first biochemistry lab that I’ve ever had in my life and it was very interesting and effective for me. By that time I had studied biochemistry theoretically and I didn’t have any idea about lab techniques, but I learned how to perform electrophoresis, chromatography, DNA isolation and purification, DNA fingerprinting, cloning, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Western blot, Bicinchoninic Acid assay (BCA) and etc. Now I can learn and understand biochemistry concepts easier.
    On the other hand this class was very helpful for my writing skills. I’m an international student and this is my first year that I’ve studied in English. Writing in English was always a big challenge for me and made me very nervous but this class with many writing assignments, lab reports and lab notebook preparations, helped me a lot. Now I am more self-confident to write and I’m very interested to improve my writing skills more and more.

  2. William Wall

    In terms of performing biochemical laboratory procedures and time management, I have definitely improved through repetition and observation. I’ve seen and performed techniques I would have thought too complicated or intricate for someone like me to perform. Even as a TA assistant in an organic chemistry lab, I still felt nervous going into lab. Hexane doesn’t care if you don’t leave it on ice too long, after all. However, while the lab itself was very helpful, I feel as a writer that I haven’t improved much at all. That’s not to say I was a bad writer before and still am; on the contrary, I feel as though my writing skills were already somewhat proficient and did not require much in the way of improvement. I could write in a passive voice while still conveying a cohesive narrative, and elaborate in a concise manner. This class, however, has taught me to condense my writing down into a more compact form, and distinctly separate sections of the paper. I already had a good handle on grammar and spelling, so there was nothing to improve mechanically. The improvements were small, but I believe they have improved my abilities as a scientific writer overall.

  3. Nikisha Hartin

    This course has introduce many different techniques used in the field of biochemistry and the overall experience has taught myself a lot of information that will be beneficial to my further studies in other sciences related to biochemistry. The study of proteins, antibodies, and genes are examples of what was focused on in the experiments. The cloning experiment helped me learn a lot about the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate gene and how important it is not only in the plant leaf used in the experiment but also to the human body. Most of my learning was demonstrated when performing the different sections and analyzing the results of the experiment. What area I need to grow in is time management. This course involved a lot of writing and writing is not a skill I have mastered. Time management was really important in this course, which helped me improve in my time management skills, but still could be worked on. Using the knowledge I learned in this course can be used in other science courses I need to study. These skills that I learned through this course can be used in pharmacy school, which is where I plan to further my education. This information is also beneficial if I plan to work in a lab. Overall, this course was a great learning experience.

  4. Chem442s15f

    My goals for this semester were written with the tears of failure from the last. I did not fare well as a result of sleep deprivation. I knew this was going to be a difficult semester. In addition to this class, my two other classes also had lab components. Three labs that covered testable material, experiments to perform, and lab reports to write.
    I had 3 goals to mitigate the workload:
    1. Sleep regularly.
    2. Stay on top of assignments.
    3. Maintain an understanding of the material.
    Although my intentions were sincere, life happens and expectations do not always become a reality. The biggest conspiracy was that every class had assignments or tests at the same time. My first goal was the first that I lost sight of. When I am pressed for time I sacrifice sleep. I learned how to stay awake longer.
    I kept up with my work, but I spent entirely too much time on each task. That is an area I need to work on. There was so much information and I wanted to fit it all in, I need to remember that less is more. In the end, my grades did not reflect my efforts.
    Never underestimate the power of a trick question. The days spent preparing for exams become obsolete with a missing or changed word; it causes self-doubt and second-guessing.
    Time management, confidence, and sleep are essential components to being successful in every aspect of life.

  5. Chem442s15r

    I took Chem442W class to learn how to isolate, purify, and characterize proteins and DNA. At the end of the semester, I think this class have definitely taught me these skills.

    I learned how to perform different Chromatographic and Electrophoresis techniques for isolating and purifying proteins. On top of that, I even learned how I can exclusively clone a desired DNA sequence using PCR and nested-PCR, and isolate it using Agarose electrophoresis. Learning these techniques had rendered me with a skill set which I employ in research in molecular biology, or biochemistry.

    Apart from learning the laboratory techniques, Chem442W had been also a writing intensive class. I had to do lab reports, adhering to the Biochem journal guidelines. Writing in this way had definitely taught me the art of scientific writing, and how to present my findings, write out the methods, and cite the materials used in the experiment for peer-reviewed journals. In addition, this class made me proficient in writing abstracts.

    Out of all techniques I learned in this class, I found Western blotting to be most challenging. In this class, I performed Western blotting once when identifying the rabbit IgG. I think I need more practice with it.

    In future, I can apply for internships, or even undergraduate research programs, and use the skill set I learned from this class.

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