What Kinds of Material can be Included in a Portfolio?

Edgerton, Hutchings and Quinlan (1991) drew from a study at Stanford to identify four domains a portfolio might address.

They are:

  • Course planning and preparation, represented by syllabi, handouts, lecture notes, etc.
  • Actual teaching presentation, represented by comments from observers, written comments from student evaluations, or tapes of actual class sessions.
  • Evaluating students and giving feedback, represented by evaluation assignments and students’ graded work along with a brief discussion by the instructor about how feedback was given.
  • Currency in the field, represented by changes in the courses as new developments in the field arise, currency of reading materials assigned or drawn on for course presentations, attendance at professional conferences that resulted in changes in content or methods of teaching.

The lists below are from Seldin (1993, 2010) and by no means intend to be exhaustive of the possibilities. Note that Seldin indicates that there should be multiple sources of information on the same observation, known as triangulation of data. By providing several perspectives of the same event or course, the professor is able to give a clearer picture of the teaching than could be achieved with one source only. What is shown below is not intended to be a checklist of everything that should be included in a portfolio; the list is merely suggestive of what might be included.

Material from Oneself

  • A statement of teaching philosophy reflecting the individual’s view of the teacher’s role and how the individual’s activities fit with that philosophy.
  • Statement of teaching responsibilities, including course titles, numbers, enrollments and student demographics, a brief description of the way each course was taught and how the courses fit into the overall mission of the department.
  • Representative course syllabi detailing course content and assignments, teaching methods, readings, homework assignments and evaluation activities, possibly highlighting how courses have changed over the years in response to student feedback or instructor growth.
  • Description of steps taken to improve teaching, either through the improvement of individual courses or in general through activities to enhance teaching skills or background knowledge.
  • Descriptions of instructional innovations attempted and evaluations of their effectiveness.
  • Descriptions of non-traditional teaching settings, such as work with laboratory assistants, special help sessions, work with students during office hours, and out of classroom contact of all kinds with students.
  • Descriptions of activities involving the supervision of graduate students and undergraduate honors thesis students, including names and completion dates, works in progress, and an indication of your general approach to such supervision.
  • A personal statement describing teaching goals for the next five years.

Material from Others

  • Student course evaluation data, including present and former students, majors and non-majors, graduates and undergraduates, assistants and mentorees, whatever groups constitute the individual’s typical constituencies.
  • Statements from colleagues who have observed the individual in the classroom or who have taught students in subsequent courses. If such data is not available, there may be alternative sources of similar information. For example, if the individual has been a guest lecturer in another instructor’s course, that could be a source of evaluation. Or if the individual has presented workshops for colleagues either locally or elsewhere, participants could be asked to evaluate the presenter.
  • Evaluations from other faculty in team-taught courses.
  • Documentation of teaching development activities, such as attendance at conferences or workshops on teaching either locally or at professional conferences.
  • Statements from colleagues who have reviewed the professor’s teaching materials, such as course syllabi, assignments, testing and grading practices. Data can be solicited from outside reviewers on these documents by inviting review from others teaching similar material at similar institutions.
  • Honors or other recognition such as a distinguished teaching award or nomination for such an award.

Products of Teaching

  • Samples of student work along with the professor’s feedback to show the range of student performance and how the instructor has dealt with it.
  • Student journals compiled during the semester and reflecting student growth in a wide range of areas.
  • A record of students who succeed in advanced study in the field or who become majors in the field and reflect back on the instructor’s influence.
  • Testimonials from the employers of former students.
  • Student scores on class examinations, departmental exams, national certification exams.

Some Items that Occasionally Appear

  • Descriptions of curricular revisions, including new course projects, materials, and class assignments.
  • Self-evaluation of teaching-related activities.
  • Contributions to, or editing of a professional journal on teaching in the discipline.
  • Service on professional society committees or University committees dealing with curriculum or teaching issues.
  • A statement by the department chair assessing the instructor’s teaching contributions to the department.
  • Invitations to present at national conferences on the individual’s teaching.
  • A recorded DVD of a typical class session.
  • Participation in off-campus activities related to teaching in the discipline, such as working with local community groups in educational campaigns.
  • Evidence of help given to colleagues leading to improvement of their teaching.
  • Descriptions of how non-traditional materials are used in teaching.
  • Statements from alumni.

**As noted earlier, not all these items would be appropriate for every portfolio. These lists are provided merely as stimulation for the instructor’s own thinking.

References

Edgerton, R., Hutchings, P. and Quinlan, K. (1991) The Teaching Portfolio: Capturing the Scholarship in Teaching. Washington, DC: The American Association for Higher Education.

Seldin, Peter and Associates (1993) Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios. Belton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Seldin, P., Miller, J. E., & Seldin, C.A. (2010). The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions (4th Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.