The Teaching Portfolio: Reflective Practice for Improvement and Assessment of Teaching
1. The Teaching Portfolio:
Reflective Practice for Improvement and
Assessment of Teaching
Director of Faculty Development
Columbia College, SC, U.S.A.
2. What Is a Teaching Portfolio? A Primer
Director of Honors & Faculty Development
Columbia College, SC, U.S.A.
For many faculty, the teaching portfolio provides the formal process for making
sweeping changes in pedagogy or methodology. As an instrument that grows out of substantial
reflection and analysis tied to hard evidence, the document also offers teachers a credible system
for valid assessment of performance. It utilizes a discipline-based format that validates the
individuality and integrity of teaching, serving as a catalyst for substantive improvement of the
philosophy, strategies, materials, outcomes, evaluations, and goals of teaching.
With special attention to improvement, investment in such a project is voluntary, and
faculty reap significant benefits when they elect to write a portfolio with the collaboration of a
knowledgeable, supportive mentor. The intentional focus on reflective practice and mentoring
produces better teaching and learning and better cooperation and communication among faculty
The portfolio is a process document for development because improvement depends
upon the following steps:
Establishing and documenting a baseline of information about teaching.
Progressing through stages of experimentation and change.
Engaging in the wide benefits of collaboration.
Realizing enhancement of particular areas through rigorous assessment.
Recording actual improvement and positing further goals.
A serviceable portfolio is not a one-time effort but a concentrated document that records
progressive levels of achievement and sets the stage for specific goals.
3. The Contents of a Portfolio
The portfolio is an evidence-based narrative document in which a faculty member strategically
organizes concise, selective details of current teaching accomplishment and uses such information for
documentation of performance but more significantly for reflective analysis and peer collaboration leading to
improvement of teaching and student learning. In short, the portfolio reflects the careful methodology of
research that results in creditable scholarship, demonstrating that the teaching enterprise is not apart from the
intellectual growth of faculty or from the professional imperatives of scholarly development. Writing a
portfolio reveals precisely how vigorous teaching and diligent scholarship are inseparable facets of the
An effective portfolio consists of about eight or ten pages, plus appendices, which critically study
selected information about teaching in areas such as responsibilities, philosophy, methodologies, materials,
student ratings, peer reviews, efforts to improve teaching, and goals. If the primary purpose is improvement,
then the teacher gains nothing from choosing only evidence of success. If in the portfolio a professor
articulates the values of experimentation and growth in teaching, then inclusion of disappointing experiences
is proof not of failure but of vigorous commitment to improvement. If a department chair coordinates with
faculty to state as a department mission the same charges, then the portfolio is compelling proof of the
vitality of instruction at the classroom level and of commitment to teaching improvement and support at the
departmental level. The same is true at the institutional level if an institution articulates teaching
development and effectiveness as a strong part of its mission.
The portfolio leads to improvement by helping the faculty member to engage the following strategies:
1. Identify specific instructional and teaching-related duties and how such responsibilities fit
into the professor's teaching load and other assignments
2. Articulate a teaching philosophy
3. Describe, analyze, and evaluate course materials, methods, and outcomes
4. Examine teaching objectives and competencies
5. Study student and peer reviews and formulate an action plan for improvement
6. Posit specific teaching goals
7. Provide supportive documentation of performance.
Such self-conscious planning results in sound assessment and better teaching, especially if the portfolio is
revised regularly. The portfolio also includes a valuable appendix of materials that support the narrative,
offering the hard copy information necessary for both thorough assessment and real, recorded improvement.
No amount of writing skill and no fancy font or cover can compensate for real evidence in the appendices.
In addition to balancing reflective narration and evidence in the appendix, a successful portfolio
gathers and studies information from three basic areas:
5. What Is a Teaching Portfolio?
PROCESS • Improvement
• Reflection PRODUCT
• Selective Information
• Representative Data
• Appendix Materials
6. The Teaching Portfolio:
Three Areas of Information
A sound portfolio is a reflective document of eight to ten pages that gather selected data from three major
areas (see Seldin 1993, 1997, 2004). Here are some representative items that by no means exhaust the
possibilities of what may be crucial in a particular professor's portfolio:
1. Information from Oneself
• Reflective analysis of responsibilities, philosophy,
• Description of materials: syllabi, handouts,
• Assessment of professional teaching development
activities: conferences, workshops, curricular
experiments and revisions
2. Information from Others
• Student assessments and ratings
• Peer reviews, class observations
• Year-end evaluations by chair and dean
• Honors and awards
• Invitations to present or publish on teaching
• Unsolicited letters
3. Products or Outcomes of Student Learning
• Pre/post tests of learning
• Classroom assessment activities
• Student exams, projects, presentations, publications,
"TABLE OF CONTENTS"
Faculty Member's Name
Table of Contents
1.Statement of Teaching Responsibilities
2.Reflective Statement of Teaching Philosophy
3.Analysis of Methods, Strategies for Enhancing Student Learning
4.Description and Study of Course Materials: Syllabi, Assignments, Handouts,
5.Effortsto Improve Teaching: Conferences, Workshops, Curricular Revisions
and Innovations, Experiments in Pedagogy and Methodology
6.Examination of Student Ratings on Diagnostic Questions
7.Teaching Goals: Short and Long Term
"TABLE OF CONTENTS"
Faculty Member's Name
Table of Contents
31056.Description of Teaching Responsibilities
9.Reflective Statement of Teaching Philosophy
10.Successful Methods, Strategies for Effective Teaching
11.Student Evaluations and Letters
12.Peer Evaluations and Letters from Colleagues Who Have Observed
Classroom Practice and Reviewed Materials and Student Work
13.Statementby the Department Chair and Other Administrators Assessing
Representative Course Syllabi, Assignments, Exams, Handouts,
15.Specific Products of Student Learning: Exams, Projects, Student Conference
Presentations and Publications, Essays in Drafts with Comments, Evidence of
Successful Student Practicums and Professional Achievement Tied to Professor's
16.Teaching Awards, Recognition
10. 17.Teaching Goals: Short and Long Term, Tied to Departmental and Institutional
11. Products of Student Learning:
A Guide to Improving Your Teaching Portfolio
Remember that a sound portfolio should include information from three broad areas:
• Information from Self
• Information from Others
• Products of Student Learning
The most difficult area to document for most faculty is that of “Products,” or, to put it another way, the area
concerning evidence of student learning, the outcomes of our teaching that demonstrate whether and to what
extent our teaching has had an impact on student learning. Most of us can do a pretty good job of displaying
our good teaching, but can we document that our students really have learned? Faculty frequently ask what
kinds of information serve well to provide such documentation. Clearly, institutional culture and the local
context of assessment and evaluation need to be considered, but here are some suggestions that are by no
means prescriptive or comprehensive:
Learning portfolios, class journals
Pre/post tests of learning
Classroom assessment activities (e.g. minute papers, reflective listserv entries, web-based threaded
discussions, background knowledge probes, matrixes, concept maps)
Student course exams, periodic quizzes, research projects
Student scores on standardized tests, board exams
Student conference presentations, publications growing out of course work
Essays in drafts with instructor’s formative feedback
Lab reports, workbooks, logs, field-work records
Honors program, M.A., Ph.D. theses or projects
Creative performances, displays
Documentation of successful internships, accomplishments of practicums
Record of students’ success in sequential, higher-level courses
Documentary evidence of students’ success in career/job/graduate training for which particular courses
provided requisite knowledge, skills (e.g., employers’ reports, letters)
Cumulative data gathered from students’ perceptions of learning after completed course
Video tapes of students’ application of knowledge (e.g., medical interns on rounds, broadcast journalism
students conducting interviews, religion majors acting our biblical simulations or role plays; English
majors dramatizing a short story; dancers performing original choreography)
Student-designed web sites, CDs, or other technologies that demonstrate learning
What else would you add to this list to help you document actual student learning in your particular courses?
13. Getting Started
The primary motivations for writing a teaching portfolio are
In both cases, assessment through rigorous documentation and reflection is an essential activity of
engaged teaching. The purpose of the following questions is to help you begin to describe, analyze, and
evaluate what you teach (roles and responsibilities), how you teach (methodology, strategies), and most
importantly why you teach as you do (philosophy or values). In addition, notice that much weight is
given to evidence of teaching effectiveness (products, outcomes).
31104.Why are you developing a teaching portfolio? Who is your audience? Is your portfolio consistent
with institutional guidelines?
19.What are your teaching responsibilities? What courses do you teach? How many students? Lower or
upper level? Majors or non-majors? Do you serve as an advisor? How many advisees? Do you serve on
thesis committees? Are you a program director? Do you write letters of recommendations? Do you
supervise internships, practicums? Do you serve on special teaching-related committees or task forces?
20.How do you teach your classes? Do you vary approaches? Why? What particular strategies do you
use to promote student learning in different courses? What do students, peers, administrators, alumni say
about your methods?
21.What materials do you use to facilitate teaching and learning in your classes? Syllabi, handouts, exams,
essay assignments, bibliographies--how do you use such materials and why are they included in your
teaching? Do such materials demonstrate your goals, values, methods?
14. 22.Describe a particular student product or two and discuss why such works reflect your teaching
objectives and how they demonstrate student learning.
23.How do students describe your teaching to others? Do students' comments on evaluations address your
philosophy, methods, materials? How do you use students' remarks for improvement?
24.How do you stay current in your discipline? How does your teaching relate to your scholarship?
25.What teaching improvement activities have you conducted in the past year or two? Workshops,
conferences, presentations, invitations to speak on teaching, classroom innovations, curricular reforms?
How specifically have such activities changed your teaching? Do you have evidence?
26.How do you assess your teaching effort? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you plan
to do with assessment information?
27.How much information do you have from the three areas of 1) material from oneself, 2)materials from
others, 3)products of student learning? What evidence do you have to support claims in the three areas?
15. SUGGESTED CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATION OF TEACHING PORTFOLIO
Does the portfolio include current information?
Does the portfolio balance information from self, from others, and from products of
Is there coherence among the various components of the portfolio, revealing demonstrated
effectiveness in practice tied to an articulate philosophy?
Does the portfolio demonstrate teaching consistent with departmental and institutional
strategic priorities and mission?
What constitutes valid documentation and evidence?
Are multiple, selective sources of information included, offering a diverse and objective
assessment of teaching?
Does the portfolio adequately supplement narrative description, analysis, and goals with
empirical evidence in the appendix?
How clearly and specifically does the portfolio reveal the relevance of professional
development, research, and scholarship to teaching enterprise?
Does the portfolio include a core of agreed-upon seminal statements with accompanying
Do products of student learning reveal successful teaching?
Does the portfolio provide evidence of efforts to improve teaching? Is there evidence of
improvement in methods, materials, evaluations, goals?
Is the portfolio the only source of information on teaching effectiveness? Or is it
complemented by additional materials and corroborative information about a professor's
complex and varied roles.
How does the portfolio profile individual style, achievements, discipline? Is a strong case
made in both narrative and documentation in the appendix for the complexity and
individuality of a professor's particular teaching effort in a particular discipline with a
17. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY ON TEACHING PORTFOLIOS
Edgerton, R., Hutchings, P., and Quinlan, K. The Teaching Portfolio: Capturing the Scholarship in
Teaching. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education, 1991.
Hutchings, Pat, ed. The Course Portfolio: How Faculty Can Examine Their Teaching to Advance Practice
and Improve Student Learning. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education, 1998.
O'Neil, M. C., and W. A. Wright. Recording Teaching Accomplishment: A Dalhousie Guide to the Teaching
Dossier. Halifax, NS: Office of Instructional Development and Technology, Dalhousie University,
Seldin, P. The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure
Decisions. 3rd Edition. Bolton, MA: Anker, 2004. Also, 2nd Edition, 1997, and 1st Edition, 1991.
Seldin, P., and L. F. Annis. “The Teaching Portfolio.” The Journal of Staff, Program & Organization
Development 8 (1990): 197-201.
Seldin, P., L. F. Annis, and J. Zubizarreta. “Answers to Common Questions About the Teaching Portfolio.”
Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 6.1 (1995): 57-64. Special issue on portfolios.
---. “Using the Teaching Portfolio to Improve Instruction.” Teaching Improvement Practices: Successful
Strategies for Higher Education. Ed. W. A. Wright. Anker, 1995. 237-54.
Seldin, P., and Associates. Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios. Anker, 1993.
Seldin, P., and M. L. Higgerson. The Administrative Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved
Administrative Performance and Personnel Decisions. Anker, 2002.
Seldin, P., and J. E. Miller. The Academic Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Documenting Teaching, Research,
and Service. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
Shore, B. M., et al. The Teaching Dossier. Rev. ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Assoc. of University Teachers,
Urbach, F. “Developing a Teaching Portfolio.” College Teaching 40 (1992): 71-74.
Zubizarreta, J. “The Academic Portfolio: English.” The Academic Portfolio: A Practical Guide to
Documenting Teaching, Research, and Service. By Peter Seldin and J. E. Miller. Jossey-Bass, 2009.
---. “A Context and Case for Reflective Practice: Improving Teaching Through Teaching Portfolio
Revisions.” Inspiring Teaching: Carnegie Professors of the Year on Successful Teaching Practices.
18. Ed. John K. Roth. Anker, 1996. 123-33.
---. “Evaluating Teaching Through Portfolios.” Changing Practices in Evaluating Teaching. By Peter
Seldin. Anker, 1999. 163-83.
---. “Strategies for Updating and Improving the Teaching Portfolio.” The Teaching Portfolio. 3rd edition.
By Peter Seldin. Anker, 2004. 112-17. Also, “Key Points on TP Revisions and Updates,” 118-21.
---. “Teaching Portfolios and the Beginning Teacher.” Phi Delta Kappan Dec. 1994: 323-26.
---. “The Professional Portfolio: Expanding the Value of Portfolio Development.” Evaluating Faculty
Performance: A Practical Guide to Assessing Teaching, Research, and Service. By Peter Seldin.
Anker, 2006. 201-16.
---. “Using Teaching Portfolio Strategies to Improve Course Instruction.” Improving College Teaching. Ed.
P. Seldin. Anker, 1995. 167-79.
SELECTED ONLINE RESOURCES
Innumerable resources on teaching portfolios are available on the web. Here are a few useful