A “teaching portfolio” is a compilation of information about a faculty member’s teaching, made by that faculty member, often for use in consideration for tenure or promotion. It is not, in itself, an instrument for teaching evaluation, but a vehicle for presenting information which may include results of evaluations and which may itself contribute to evaluation. It can therefore be selective, emphasizing the positive, to serve as a showcase for the faculty member’s achievements in teaching, not necessarily a comprehensive or balanced picture of everything.
Purposes for the teaching portfolio include: provision of data for personnel decisions, including tenure and promotion; supplying data for aggregate information that might be communicated to, for example, legislative bodies; support of cases for internal or external awards; and, perhaps most importantly, provision to the faculty member of special and significant opportunities for reflection about his or her teaching. There are other possibilities.
The format and uses of the portfolio will naturally vary from one part of the university or discipline to another. The outline that follows is meant to be an adaptable template, which can be modified for individual units or even individual faculty members.
Nevertheless, there should be a degree of uniformity. The original impetus for proposing the portfolio at WSU was the fact that personnel documents from different units described teaching activities in such varied ways that often it was difficult, if not impossible, to use them fairly or to obtain useful aggregate results. Some guidance seemed in order.
The problem is, and will surely continue to be, to strike a good balance between comparability and flexibility.
In departments where something like a teaching portfolio is already used, adaptation to the format proposed here should be straightforward. Faculty members near the beginnings of their teaching careers should find it especially easy to assemble portfolios. Once started, the portfolio can be routinely updated. In no case should the development of a teaching portfolio be a burden that consumes an excessive amount of a faculty member’s time; nor should reading one be a daunting task.
Typically, the teaching portfolio is expected to be not more than five pages long and should present information under headings selected appropriately from those listed below (and perhaps others) and organized in much the same way. Some faculty members may attach complementary information in the form of appendices or exhibits, but these are not always essential and should be used, if at all, in moderation.
The outline that follows can therefore be regarded as a menu from which faculty members (or departments, or colleges) can select items to include in teaching portfolios to fit their particular circumstances.
Each teaching portfolio should be dated and signed by the faculty member concerned.
The “Outline of a Teaching Portfolio” that now follows is self-contained and can be considered and used separately from the rest of this document.
A compact but thoughtful statement about the faculty member’s intentions and aspirations in teaching, especially for the near future
Examples: Preferred principles for good teaching; plans of action for improvement, curricular projects, publications, presentations, etc. Platitudes and vacuous generalities should be avoided.
This might be a good place to mention obstacles the faculty member has encountered, such as inadequate facilities, inadequate library resources, excessive class size, etc.