Putting Together Your Portfolio

The first task in creating a JSGS MPA portfolio is to create a baseline self-assessment relative to the JSGS MPA Core Competencies, listed below. This is generally a component of JSGS 883. It should be completed by all incoming students in the first month of their MPA.

Once you have completed this baseline assessment, create specific goals and learning plans that you will complete during your MPA program. A template for self-assessment and goal setting can be found at the bottom of this page, and on Page 4 in your Mahara e-Portfolio.

As you complete your classes and participate in School and extracurricular activities, be sure to reflect (in writing!) on your experiences and collect evidence (in the form of photos, videos, pamphlets, emails, etc).  This will help you to document the ways in which you have implemented your learning plans, achieved your goals, and developed your MPA competencies.

Whether or not you use the Mahara system, your MPA portfolio must contain the following components:

  • Resume
  • Statement of philosophy of practice (approximately 500 words)
  • Self-assessment of MPA competencies
  • Personal Objectives and Learning Plans for developing MPA competencies
  • Assessment and evaluation of goal attainment for each competency
  • Statement on reconciliation and Indigeneity (approximately 500 words)
  • Reflections on change in the public service (approximately 500 words)
  • Summary of growth in the MPA competency areas (approximately 500 words)

About the Mahara e-Portfolio Tool

There are several things that you should note about Mahara:

  • Privacy:  The only people that will have access to your e-Portfolio in Mahara will be your JSGS 884 instructor. Your instructor will have access in order to make sure that you have signed into Mahara and that you are making entries (posting artifacts).  They will also use their access to provide comments from time to time in response to your entries. When you registered at JSGS you signed a form giving all faculty, at both campuses, access to your work.  This applies to your e-Portfolio in Mahara. You may also decide to grant access to your peers for certain purposes but this will be up to you.
  • Flexibility: We have provided a template for you to use to build your e-Portfolio. However, you are free to adapt the format by adding or removing pages, changing titles, or otherwise reorganizing your e-Portfolio to best reflect your professional growth. We strongly encourage you to personalize your e-Portfolio and make it work for you.
  • Post 884: Take your e-Portfolio with you:  You will use Mahara to develop an e-Portfolio of competencies throughout the JSGS 884 course.  After the course, you may wish to continue to develop the e-Portfolio for use in finding employment, for tracking your professional development or as a permanent electronic C.V.  This will be up to you but you should know from the start that this is an option and possible on-going advantage for you that will live on after this course.
  • Self-Taught:  You can find a short introduction to the JSGS e-Portfolio at the bottom of this page. There is also a 500-page Mahara manual (available online), and there are some short, but useful, YouTube videos. The best learning, however, will come from experimenting with the program and talking to your classmates.

The Core Competencies

We have identified six basic skills (called ‘core competencies’) that every public policy professional must possess to effectively develop and implement public policy.  Each core competency can be broken down into a number of sub-competencies (total of 21 sub-competencies). 

  • Management, Governance and Leadership
    • Attribute:  Ability to inspire support for a vision or course of action and successfully direct the teams, processes, and changes required to accomplish it.
    • Examples of sub-competencies:
      • Integrate values and ethics into organizational practices
      • Develop effective management skills
      • Other (Student determined)
  • Communication and Social Skills
    • Attribute: Ability to communicate effectively and build enduring, trust-based interpersonal, professional relationships
    • Example of sub-competency:
      • Speak and write in a clear, logical, and grammatical manner
  • System Thinking and Creative Analysis
    • Attribute: Ability to identify key issues and problems, analyze them systematically, and reach sound, innovative conclusions.
    • Examples of sub-competencies:
      • Apply principles of leadership in analyzing organizational issues
      • Apply statistical and economic principles and methods
  • Public Policy [Formation] and Community Engagement
    • Attribute: Ability to understand how organizational and public policies are formulated, their impact on public policy and management and how to influence their development.
    • Examples of sub-competencies:
      • Understand the structure of policy making and program management
      • Assess impact of government policy and regulatory requirements
  • Continuous Evaluation and Improvement
    • Attribute: Commitment to on-going evaluation for continuous organizational and personal improvement
    • Examples of sub-competency:
      • Apply key concepts and principles of change management
      • Demonstrate commitment to objective self-assessment
  • Policy Knowledge
    • Attribute: Ability to analyze and contribute content to at least one applied policy field.
    • Example of sub-competency:
      • Apply policy analysis theory and methods

Beyond the substantive content, each of your courses provides an opportunity to gain experience and knowledge that will help you to achieve your learning goals for the MPA competencies and sub-competencies.

For example, in JSGS 801 Governance and Administration, in addition to learning about how public policy is shaped by our institutional environment, a student might gain experience in working in teams with other classmates or making oral presentations.  The teamwork, and the ability to make oral presentations, would be sub-competencies in the core competency area of “Communication and Social Skills.”

Helpful Resources