Now that you have a portfolio, we want you to start to fill it up!

In this module you will begin by “looking back” and reflecting on the goals you had when you entered your master’s degree program through your Goal Reflection Essay. We hope that this opportunity for reflection will allow you to frame your master’s journey and set a tone for the portfolio you will create in these next few months.

Activities in this module are due by June 12th (at or before 11:59 PM Eastern Time). We encourage you to begin early in the week – it is not possible to complete the entire module at the last minute.


Why a Goal Reflection Essay?

As you enter in the last stages of your master’s degree, we think it makes sense to start with where you began. Whether you began two years or two decades ago, your path to getting to this point is valuable! Specifically, in this essay we ask you to focus on the reasons you originally started grad school. What were you hoping to gain? [Read more about it here]

What are some good example goal reflection essays?

If you’re looking for inspiration for this Mission, check out the links below. Each of these links represents an example of this Mission from a previous semester that was done well and that you should feel free to emulate. However, that doesn’t mean that these examples are perfect, so please don’t copy them.

Please also keep in mind that we tweak our Mission requirements from semester to semester. These portfolios, while exemplary, might not reflect our current requirements or emphasize the same things that we focus on this semester. When in doubt, check the Mission descriptions or ask us!

  • Jenna Krystyniak – Clearly identifies and contrasts original and current goals
  • Katie Kappler – Reflects on goals that haven’t changed very much and explains why
  • Allison Birbal – Discusses small (but important) changes in goals
  • Jenna Gabel – Draws clear comparisons between initial goals and current goals

Where can I find help in writing essays?

This helpful advice from the MAET program will help you know more about our general expectations for writing and how you can meet them. [Read more about it here]

Reminder: Should I turn in partial work or wait until I am done?

In this class, it is better to get something for a mission posted on time (like a draft of an essay) and to improve upon it as we go than to wait for everything to be perfect. There will be time to revise and improve later. [Read more about it here.]

How can I get additional help?

For further support this week, you may wish to visit with one of the instructors. You can attend a scheduled office hours to ask any questions you have. You may also use office hours to complete your Tech Check.

🔗Mission 1

image of binoculars to signify the overview

Overview – Your Goal Reflection Essay

One major goal of the Capstone Course is to help you reflect upon your learning. In this Mission, you will look back over your studies and work to reflect on the educational goals you had upon entering the program, and how those goals may have changed over time.

Please note the focus on goals here. While we hope you have also changed in other ways, you will cover changes in knowledge and how you practice your profession in the Synthesis Essay later in the semester.

As you complete this Mission keep in mind that you should have a well-completed essay at the end of this Mission to share with others and should be ready to talk about the decisions you made. However, we expect that you will make changes throughout the semester — this does not need to be the final final draft.
Complete this Mission by doing each of the following concrete steps:

Find your initial goals

You may have this on a flash drive, saved to your computer/documents, or on a website somewhere. Wherever it is, find it! If you can’t find your original application statement, do your best to remember what your goals were. In other words, finding it “in your memory” is legit.

Think about your goals now

We will be asking you to describe how your goals have changed, so it is important to consider what your goals are today. We understand that your goals may be identical or drastically different. Either is fine, it is the reflection we want to read!

Write your essay

In about 500 words, you should:

  • explain your initial goals
  • explain your current goals
  • discuss how your goals have changed or stayed the same, and why

Consider the standards of excellence for this module

As you design your page, please use the following standards of excellence to guide your work. These represent the particular criteria that your instructors will be looking for and giving feedback on in this Mission. These standards form the basis of our full grading rubric, on which we base our end of the semester assessment of portfolios.

  • Title: Does your essay have an expressive title?
  • Quality of Multimedia: Do you use text accurately and effectively? If you use images and other media, do you also use them accurately and effectively?
  • Identification of Original Goals: Does your essay identify and describe the goals you included in your program application?
  • Reflection on Changes in Original Goals: Does your essay clearly explain how and why your original goals have changed or stayed the same?
  • Word Length: Is your essay about 500 words?

Common issues

  • Do not write a revised goal statement.
  • Remember that people outside your program or workplace might not understand all the terms and acronyms you use. It’s always a good idea to “spell out” an acronym (like MAET or MAED) the first time you use it, and you should also consider defining terms that aren’t commonly used.
  • We have no doubt that you’ve made a lot of changes over the course of your program, and we’d love to hear about all of them, but we’re specifically interested in your goals and how they have changed.
  • Think about adding a link to a PDF copy on this page so that viewers have the opportunity to read your essay in an alternative format (and this makes for easier printing if someone wanted to print your essay).

🔗Mission 2

Post in Piazza

For this module, please post the following to Piazza:

  • A link to the essay you created for Module 4 and
  • One healthy paragraph on: (a) what you like about your both your design and content of your Goal Reflection Essay, and (b) what you could use some help with on your Goal Reflection Essay.

If you completed a Powerup, please include the following in your response to this week’s Piazza thread:

Posting your Powerups in Piazza

If you have completed a new Powerup then post about it in Piazza by doing the following:

  • Go to your house in Piazza
  • If this is your first Powerup, find the post called “Powerup #1!”, if this is your second Powerup find “Powerup #2!”, and if this is your third (or fourth, or fifth…) find “Powerup #3!”.
  • Post a reply to the post with the following
    • The Web address of your Powerup.
    • A paragraph explaining why you chose to complete this particular Powerup.
    • If this is your second or third Powerup, please include how you see it relating to previous Powerups and the overall shape and development of your portfolio.
    • Anything you’d like your housemates to pay particular attention to.

Just as for our regular weekly postings, give feedback to two others. Give preference to those who have little or no feedback yet (of course, this is all subject to the Bonuses and Bummers Policy).

How to Post in Piazza

If you need a hand posting to Piazza, here is a walkthrough of the process:


Step 1 – Know which house you are in. To get started, you have to be able to head to the correct place. Each group, or house, has their own space in Piazza. You can double check which house you are in by going to the “Roster & Houses” page at the top of this website.

Step 2 – Visit Piazza. Once you know which house you are in, use the “Class Discussion” links on the right hand side of the page to go directly to your house’s discussion space on Piazza. In order for this to work, you must have previously accepted the Piazza invitation sent to your MSU email account and completed all the Piazza steps.

Step 3 – Find the correct discussion. The screenshot on the right is similar to what you should see when you visit Piazza. We have already set up the post for each module that will be using Piazza (see the list in the screenshot). Find the appropriate module for the week and click on it!

Step 4 – Read the directions carefully. At the top of each post there are directions on how to complete the module post for full credit: Please read them! Each module has different directions, so make sure you read the directions for the correct module!

Step 5 – Reply to the post by clicking on “Start a new followup discussion.” This is found at the very bottom of the discussion, so if a number of people have already replied, you may have to scroll down to find it. Once you click “Start a new followup discussion,” type your post and hit “Submit”.

Step 6 – Provide feedback to two housemates. The goal is to provide feedback to two people. Your priority should be to provide feedback to someone who hasn’t yet received any feedback. If everyone has some feedback, give feedback to the housemate you think needs your input the most. When constructing your feedback, please consider the kind of feedback you would like to get in return. Click the “Write a Reply” button beneath their post and submit your feedback to that person. Remember, you must provide feedback to two people (some exceptions are listed below in Bonuses and Bummers Policy).

You can find some more advice for giving effective feedback in the Piazza posts for each module. Providing feedback comprises your Feedback Grade for the week. We look for elaboration beyond “good job!” and ask that you engage with your housemates’ work and provide your insight as to the specific things you appreciate and think could be improved upon.

How will you know when someone has posted to your house? There is a “More” button at the bottom of each post in Piazza. Click that pull-down menu and either select “Follow” or “Stop following” depending upon whether or not you want to receive notices about that discussion. We recommend that you follow discussions for your house (but that’s up to you).

Stuck? Want help with the technical parts? If you’re getting stuck using your web-authoring platform, follow the Tech Support link. It’s on the right hand side of the capstone website, below the houses under “Course Discussions.” Please note that there is no actual “tech support” page. Instead, this links to a note we created on Piazza that has instructions for posting a tech support question where your instructors and classmates can give you some advice.

Of course, this system only works if you help answer questions too, so don’t forget to keep an eye out for your classmates’ questions!


Grading rubric for this module

Each Mission in this course is important for developing your abilities to design and implement your portfolio. Recall that there are 100 total points assigned in this course; the specific Mission(s) in this module will count towards your grade as follows:

  • (1 point) – Initial Post – Posting about your Mission as described in Piazza. Up to one point will be awarded based upon the completeness of your initial Piazza post.
  • (1 point) – Providing Feedback – Up to one point will be awarded based upon the quality and completeness of your feedback to two of your peers. [Keep in mind our “Bonuses and Bummers” policy.]
  • (2 points) – Tech Check – Carry out your Tech Check before the end of Module 10. To learn more, see our Tech Check information.

Advice and help about course grades

  • Learn how to check grades in the course by reading this helpful guide.
  • Check grades early and often! This will help you understand your progress in the course and will help us correct any errors as soon as possible.
  • Pay attention to how each module is graded. We provide details about the grading rubric for each module.
  • Understand the late work policy. If you know you’re going to be late, contact us ahead of time and ask for a (reasonable) extension. Otherwise, work is accepted up to 48 hours late with 1/2 credit. The full policy is detailed in the syllabus.
  • The full grading policy is detailed in the syllabus.


Powerups information

In addition to the weekly modules and components that we walk you through, each portfolio is required to have a number of Powerups. These Powerups are features, technologies, or pages that you add to your portfolio based upon what best suits you and your audience.

Keep in mind that you will have to add three Powerups to your portfolio before the course is over. We recommend the following timing to stay on track with Powerups. While there are no points or late penalty associated with this timing, it is in your best interest to try to stick to it in order to stay on pace to successfully complete the course.

  • First Powerup – Complete by the end of Module 5
  • Second Powerup – Complete by the end of Module 8
  • Third Powerup – Complete by the end of Module 11

More details about Powerups, including a list of all possible Powerups and full details on the timing of Powerups, is available here.

Recommended Powerups

If you’ve completed this Mission early or if the theme of this module is particularly important for your portfolio, we encourage you to start thinking about Powerups that are related to this module’s work. We think the following ones fit particularly well with what you’re currently working on:

  • Teaching Philosophy – This Powerup will walk you through ways to include a teaching philosophy in your portfolio.
  • Badges – This might be a good time to explore how to use badges to demonstrate your skills to others who come across your portfolio.