Teaching portfolios

staff giving advice to student

What is a teaching portfolio?

A teaching portfolio is a structured collection of many different types of evidence to reflect upon, describe, and document one’s teaching philosophy, short- and long-term goals, practices, and achievements.

A teaching portfolio is a collection of evidence for a particular purpose, such as performance review, probation, promotion or continuous career improvement. In the portfolio, you detail and reflect upon your own teaching practice and your collaborative practice, as appropriate.

A teaching portfolio may include, for example:

  • details of your teaching responsibilities including, if applicable, supervision of honours or postgraduate research students;
  • description and reflection of your educational practice/philosophy;
  • your publications on scholarship of teaching;
  • demonstration of how scholarship informs your teaching, for example membership of professional associations or actively participating in professional development activities and programs;
  • evidence of the nexus between teaching and learning and your research and scholarship;
  • evidence of innovative teaching approaches informed by your reflection and learning;
  • your teaching awards, grants, or other measures of recognition;
  • samples of unit outlines, course materials, and assessment proformas or rubrics, demonstrating changes implemented in response to student feedback and reflection on your rationale, activities and assessment instruments aligned to learning outcomes;
  • your student ratings and comments, reports from others, self-assessment, and team deliberations;
  • administrative responsibilities in regards to units of study, student feedback, course co-ordination, national roles and honours or postgraduate student supervision.

Whatever structure you use, your portfolio will be more valuable if you can provide a reflective commentary of the significance of the selected components and their contributions to your current teaching.  For example: what did I learn? How could I change assessment, activities, and integration of technology to improve the my students’ learning experience? What academic and professional development should I engage in to ensure I meet probation, promotion and performance reviews?

It could be a useful strategy to keep in mind frameworks such as the ACU Teaching Criteria and Standards Framework, the ACU Capability Development Framework, or the UK Higher Education Academy’s fellowships.

Why develop a teaching portfolio?

Teaching portfolios can provide a record of your own professional development as it evolves over time. Portfolios are not static documents but are an evolving record of evidence profiled over time for a particular purpose. Teaching performance and achievements are also important criteria in many universities’ promotion policies, teaching and research supervision awards, and selection and appointment procedures, such as probation. Teaching portfolios are a way of demonstrating one’s teaching ability in order to provide a record of skills and evidence of performance.

Kinds of teaching portfolio

Teaching portfolios can be viewed as:

  • a personal record drawn up as a means of presenting information, often in response to specific university guidelines for example the teaching and curriculum Development criteria set out in a relevant promotion policy or the Teaching Standards and Criteria Framework;
  • a reflection of your work in a structured manner;
  • a process of self-evaluation and goal setting; and
  • a method to teaching enhancement in which you can gauge successes, opportunities for improvement, and means for fulfilment.

How to prepare a teaching portfolio

Seven steps are involved in preparing a teaching portfolio:

  1. Clarify your responsibilities (teaching, scholarship, curriculum development, community engagement, and administration associated with teaching). Remember, however, that evidence can be used for different purposes at different times.
  2. Reflect on your philosophy, short- and long-term teaching goals, and teaching and learning styles. Consider what basic claims about teaching you will make, and why.
  3. Select and append your best evidence. You need to ensure that appropriate choices of material are made that provide evidence of teaching performance in terms of purpose and audience.
  4. Organize the material to support your claims in line with the guidelines or purposes for which you are creating the portfolio.
  5. Write a reflective commentary drawing all of the portfolio components together in a cohesive manner.
  6. Show your draft to a colleague.
  7. Following feedback from a colleague, set up and organise your headings and evidence in a simple format in an eportfolio hosting system like Mahara so that you can easily add, amend  and include artefacts profiled by a reflection on your learning and teaching journey.

According to your purpose and audience you may decide to present your teaching portfolio as hard copy documents or in electronic form (a digital portfolio).

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Clarifying purpose and philosophy

(Adapted from Designing a teaching portfolio, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Penn State University.)

Before assembling your teaching portfolio, begin planning by thinking about purpose and audience. For example, your purpose may be to develop a portfolio for either promotion or continuation in employment. Each purpose brings an audience with a unique set of expectations and needs. Reflecting on purpose and audience can help give shape to your portfolio.

  • What is your main purpose in creating this portfolio? What basic argument about your teaching will you make, and why?
  • Who are the primary readers? What do you know about their beliefs about good teaching? Are their beliefs consistent with your own?
  • What types of evidence of teaching effectiveness will be most convincing to these readers? What evidence will they expect to find?

In many ways, a teaching portfolio is an argument: it is developed around the claims you wish to make about yourself as an academic. One way to highlight these claims in your portfolio is to present them in your teaching philosophy, where you will generally address questions such as:

  • What are the most significant claims you will make about the effectiveness of your teaching?
  • Why do you believe these claims are significant?

Selecting evidence

Ultimately, however, your claims about teaching will be most convincing to readers when they are supported by documentation from a variety of sources – students and colleagues, and yourself. Many of the materials and data that can be used to document teaching are regularly gathered by you and your School (e.g. student evaluations of learning and teaching), which makes constructing this section of the portfolio less daunting than it might at first seem. Useful evidence can take many forms, and needs to be carefully selected and presented for the portfolio's purpose and audience, so that it is easy to read and understand.

As you gather the data to support your claims, consider the following questions:

  • How are your beliefs about teaching and learning reflected in your actions as a teacher?
  • What evidence will show readers that your teaching reflects these beliefs?
  • What evidence can your students provide? Your colleagues? What evidence can you provide?
  • Which of the data listed above do you (or your School) regularly collect? How can you begin to collect the rest of the data you need?

Shaping and organizing

Now you can decide how and in what order to present the data you have gathered from students and colleagues, and yourself. Again, consider the perspective of your audience and what type of evidence they will find convincing. Have you selected, organized and presented the data in a way that brings the most compelling evidence into focus for your readers? Does each piece of evidence serve a purpose, supporting a claim you have made about your teaching?

Assessing and refining your presentation

Finally, when you have drafted your portfolio, think back to your analysis of the audience and purpose and consider whether your document will achieve what you set out to do. Does your portfolio give the reader a sense of who you are as an academic? What is the most striking claim you make about your teaching in the portfolio? Will the evidence presented for this claim be convincing for this audience? Are all of the claims and evidence offered for teaching effectiveness relevant?

ePortfolio

An ePortfolio is an electronic version of a teaching portfolio. It is an online structure or repository for artefacts of evidence which you will be able to reflect upon for a particular purpose.

It's simple to start building an ePortfolio using ACU's supported platform, LEOportfolio (Mahara):

  1. Log into LEO.
  2. Select: 'My Portfolio' from the Navigation block.
  3. Start building your ePortfolio.

This ePortfolio may be shared with others. Because it resides on a web server you can make it accessible to people by granting viewing permissions. You should set different permissions for particular parts of your ePortfolio.

Your ACU ePortfolio will be available to you up to 6 months from cessation of employment or, for students, for six months after graduation.

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