A Program Portfolio in Environmental Science as a Way to Integrate Humanistic, Meta-, and Foundational Knowledge and Develop Professional Identity by University of Phoenix

Jacquelyn Kelly, PhD, Susan Hadley, PhD, Eve Krahe, PhD, Mary Elizabeth Smith


The program portfolio is a student project that spans across the core coursework in the undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (BS/EVS). Deliverables from multiple core courses contribute toward portfolio creation. The completed portfolio is assessed in the final portfolio course of the program. Students will be able to use their portfolios to demonstrate career-readiness to potential employers and as a personal model and process for professional growth.


The purpose for including portfolio development within the undergraduate Environmental Science program is (1) to support students with integrating humanistic, meta-, and foundational knowledge within the discipline and (2) to support students' development of their professional identity as they transition from college to career. As they create portfolios, students will develop experience within the discipline of Environmental Science while simultaneously identifying their paths to careers in the field. Upon completion of the degree and the portfolio, students will have collected deliverables that demonstrate their emerging expertise and will have developed the skills that will allow them to expand their portfolios as they demonstrate career growth.


The goal of portfolio creation is to guide students through a reflective process that uses a framework of foundational, meta-, and humanistic knowledge. The portfolio will provide opportunities for students to integrate, dis-integrate, and re-integrate knowledge and concepts in Environmental Science. Students who complete a portfolio in the BS/EVS will have the requisite knowledge to evaluate social impacts and to develop solutions that benefit society. Portfolio creation also serves to develop students' skills in identifying career opportunities and articulating the skills necessary for entry into the field. Additionally, the iterative and additive nature of the portfolio builds reflective career skills so students learn to collect work products that demonstrate their competencies and achievements during their careers to promote advancement in the field.

Portfolio Learning Outcomes

We have adopted a multi-faceted framework for knowledge that includes humanistic, meta-, and foundational knowledge. Based on this framework, we assert that learning cannot take place without each of these components present. For this reason, the portfolio will not treat each component of knowledge separately. Instead, each portfolio learning experience will rely on all three being addressed simultaneously to create synthesized knowledge and understanding.

Graduates completing the portfolio will

  • synthesize humanistic, meta-, and foundational knowledge in the context of Environmental Science.
  • generate deliverables that demonstrate competencies required for careers in Environmental Science.
  • align professional goals to Environmental Science career paths.
  • align personal legacy within their communities to the context of Environmental Science.
  • iterate and add to a professional portfolio throughout career to support advancement and growth in the field.

Assessing Portfolio Learning Outcomes

For details about implementation of the portfolio, please viewthis page.

To assess student achievement of the learning outcomes of the portfolio, individual portfolio assignment deliverables will be assessed with a rubric in the course the assignment is completed. Each portfolio assignment will also include a reflective component that addresses how that assignment contributes to the portfolio, as a whole. Each portfolio assignment and reflection will assess the five outcomes identified above.

Programmatic Evaluation 

Evaluation of the fidelity of implementation of the portfolio will be conducted on a yearly basis.

  • Fidelity of implementation will be determined by
    • examining student scores on portfolio assignments in all course sections. This will allow evaluators to examine trends and consistency within grading of portfolio items
    • deploying surveys to faculty actively teaching courses that contain portfolio assignments. This will allow evaluators to gather information about how the portfolio was deployed and assessed, as well as faculty perception of how portfolio assignments support course learning outcomes
  • Portfolio effectiveness will be determined by
    • inspecting student persistence and retention within the BS/EVS program
    • assessing student performance on program learning outcomes
    • conducting a thematic analysis of student end of course surveys to understand student perceptions of and reflections on the portfolio experience
    • facilitating industry advisory council evaluation of sample portfolios to ensure students are identifying careers consistent with industry needs

Demonstrative Program Deliverable

View the details of the portfolio in the deliverable section »