How to Write an Introduction for an Educational Portfolio

by Carol Strider

INTRODUCTIONS GRAB YOUR ATTENTION! No matter how good the content of your educational portfolio might be, if you fail to get the attention of the reader, it will not be seen. Writing a good introduction is analogous to the phrase "hook, line and sinker." You set the hook by having a strong opening statement. You draw the reader in on your "line" by setting the context for your educational portfolio or what it is going to be about. Finally, the "sinker" tells the reader exactly why to read your educational portfolio.

Decide upon the overall theme of your portfolio. Think of one sentence that best describes this theme and use it as your opening statement. Educational portfolios are a collection of evidence demonstrating how you have achieved learning outcomes over time. Your theme then is a general statement about what you have learned.

Describe, in general terms, the content of your portfolio and how the content demonstrates your theme. For example, you might say "the writing samples and evaluations contained in this portfolio show how my critical thinking skills have evolved over the course of the program." Avoid listing all of the contents in your portfolio in the introduction. Put the list in a table of contents instead.

Explain why the reader should want to review your educational portfolio. Think about what sets your educational portfolio apart from others and how it describes you as an individual. You may wish to use a philosophical analogy. For example, Bruce Lee, a practitioner of martial arts, advocated being "like water." Talk about how you have been like water, going with the flow and adapting to obstructions, all with a strong undercurrent of power.

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