Portfolio | Department of Social Work


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The UMD Department of Social Work Portfolio was designed to help students meaningfully integrate, on an ongoing basis, the knowledge and skills they acquire throughout the master's curriculum. It will also help ensure that all MSW graduates demonstrate competence in those learning areas that we believe are key to quality masters-level social work practice.

The Portfolio is comprised of a cover page, introduction, resume, self-rating on concentration year practice behaviors, Field II ratings on concentration year practice behaviors, self-reflection on concentration year competencies, plan for career long learning, ethical dilemma case summary, and an integrative essay.

There are 9 components of the MSW Portfolio which are as follows:

  1. Title (Cover) Page
  2. Introduction: Brief personal statement on how you became interested in becoming a MSW level social worker and your career goals. (1-2 paragraphs)
  3. Resume
  4. Self-Ratings on Concentration Year Practice Behaviors
  5. Field II Ratings on Concentration Year Practice Behaviors
  6. Self-Reflection on Concentration Year Competencies
    Reflect on your overall strengths and weaknesses. Do your perceptions fit with those of your field supervisor? How have you grown in each competency area during the MSW program? What coursework or field experiences contributed to this learning? How will what you learned in your coursework and field experiences shape your future practice and your plan for career long learning? (5-8 Pages)
  7. Plan for Career Long Learning
    This plan may be modified from the one completed in your Field Seminar II if you chose to do so. It should include action plans for promoting social justice and enhancing your cultural competence.
  8. Ethical Dilemma Case Summary
    Present a case situation that you have dealt with in either micro or macro practice and describe the process, procedures and resources that you used to conceptualize and address the ethical dilemma. You may use a paper that you have completed in a concentration year class. Integrate content on social justice and specific actions to be taken. (5-6 pages)
  9. Integrative Essay
    Write an integrated essay that addresses the advanced generalist practice model and how it has related to your coursework and field experiences. Discuss three key themes in our program (i.e. Cultural competence, Social Work practice with American Indians, and Social Justice) and relate them to key theories, skills, and values that you have learned in classroom and field settings. Discuss how you will apply the advanced generalist practice to a specific area of practice that you plan to pursue. Use reference citations and include a reference page. (6-8 pages)

Optional: Attach a learning product from the classroom or field setting that exemplifies the best of your work in the MSW program.

Your Portfolio First Reader is the faculty member with whom you will work most closely in putting together your portfolio. This faculty member is your academic adviser and they also chair your Final Oral Examination which is focused partly on your Portfolio (see below for a description of your Final Oral Examination). Your Portfolio Second Reader reviews your portfolio and also is the second member of your Final Oral Exam committee.

Should your adviser be unavailable during the time that you plan to take your final oral exams, you may ask another faculty member to be your adviser. An Adviser Change Form must be completed and is available in the Student Support Assistant's office (Bohannon 214).

Currently, faculty able to serve as Portfolio Primary Readers are: Kathy Heltzer, Evie Campbell, Priscilla Day, Anne Tellett, Lake Dziengel, Sandra van den Bosse and Jim Amell. 

The Final Examination consists of an approximately one and one half hour oral exam. Students are expected to make a presentation to the examining committee that addresses advanced generalist practice and its relationship to their course work, field experiences, themes of the program, social work ethics, and future career. The Masters Portfolio will also be used by the Examining Committee as a basis for questions. The Examining Committee consists of two Social Work Faculty members. The primary reader is the student's advisor.

Use these procedures for scheduling the oral examination:

  1. Check the Graduate School's coursework balance letter (that you'll receive by email, 6-8 weeks after your Application for Degree Form is processed by the Graduate School) and clear up any incompletes or errors. If you did not graduate within the time period indicated in your balance letter, you must contact the Graduate School in the Twin Cities as indicated in the letter.
  2. Confer with your advisor to make a joint decision that you are ready for the examination. When your advisor (first reader) informs you that you are ready, coordinate a time when you, your first reader (advisor) and your second reader can attend. You should schedule it for an hour and a half.
  3. Reserve a room for your exam in coordination with the Student Support Assistant (umdsw@d.umn.edu or 726-8497) and inform the Student Support Assistant and your 1st and 2nd readers of the date/time/place for your exam.
  4. The Student Support Assistant will give your advisor (first reader) the Masters Project Approval and Transmittal Form prior to or on the day of the final examination. The first and second readers sign off on the approval and transmittal form after your final revisions are done and your revised Master's Portfolio is turned in to your first reader. The Student Support Assistant will also email you forms for you to complete and bring to the exam.
  5. The format for the exam is as follows:
    • Fifteen - twenty minute oral student presentation addressing the following areas:

      • Social Work practice and theory within the advanced generalist model.
      • Advanced generalist practice and its relationship to the student's course work, field experiences, and future career. Discussion and application of the key themes of the program: cultural competence, social work practice with American Indians, and social justice.
      • Social Work values and ethics. Present your ethical dilemma from the portfolio and apply the NASW Code of Ethics.
      • Brief overview of the elements of your Portfolio

      You are permitted to bring written notes outlining the presentation or use a power point presentation.

    • Twenty to forty minutes of questions by the Committee for the purpose of clarification, discussion and elaboration.
    • Five to ten minutes when the Committee makes a decision on whether you passed or failed the oral exam
    • Ten to fifteen minutes for feedback to you.
    • Your feedback: We strive to continually improve the quality of our MSW program and your feedback helps us in this endeavor. You will be given opportunity to turn in written feedback anonymously to the Student Support Assistant electronically. Feedback will be stripped of identifiers and compiled. You will also be invited to give feedback orally at the end of the final examination in terms of: a) strengths you observed in the program, and b) ways the program could be strengthened. This is optional.
  6. Your presentation/discussion will be evaluated based on whether it is effective, organized, relevant, informative, thorough, and clear.
  7. You may be asked to make further revisions on your Portfolio or to submit additional written materials prior to final approval. Revisions should be submitted to your advisor. When satisfactory revisions have been made, your committee members will sign the Masters Project approval form. Your grade for the Field II course must be changed from an X in order for you to clear for graduation.
  8. Your official graduation date will be the last working date of the month in which you completed all program requirements.
  9. In case of failure, unanimous consent of the Examining Committee is required to retake the final examination.

As you begin your Concentration Year, review attached Practice Behaviors associated with Concentration Year Learning Objectives and start thinking about where you feel you are in terms of each Practice Behavior. Also, keep in mind that you will need to prepare an Integrative Essay as well as present an Ethical Dilemma that you encounter in the field.

You will complete a Self-Assessment on the Concentration Year Practice Behaviors in your Field II course. You will include this assessment in your portfolio.

You should meet with your Portfolio First Reader sometime in September to discuss the above, as well as the portfolio process in general.

You should present a preliminary draft of your Portfolio to your Portfolio First Reader by the tenth week of the Fall or Spring semester following your having completed at least 12 credits of Concentration Year coursework. Your Portfolio First Reader will provide written and oral comments on this. This feedback should be helpful to your completion the remainder of the Portfolio process.

The Final Portfolio Oral Presentation will generally take place in the final week of the Spring semester (during which Concentration Year courses won't be scheduled) through the Wednesday of Spring Finals Week. You will, in consultation with your two Portfolio Readers, be responsible for scheduling your Oral Presentation.

At least two weeks prior to your Oral Exam, you will need to submit your complete Portfolio to your Portfolio First Reader. You will submit a final version to both readers when your First Reader determines that it is ready.