Introduction to Teaching Portfolios


The Teaching Portfolio, sometimes called a Teaching Dossier, is a compilation of subjective (personal, reflective) assessments as well as objective (quantitative, independent) assessment of one’s teaching. 

There are two primary uses for a Teaching Portfolio.  It can be used as a formative tool to help the instructor develop, improve, and strengthen their teaching strategies.  It can also be used as a summative tool for use by supervisors, departments, and educational institutions to evaluate the success of the teacher for tenure, promotion, or salary considerations. 

As I have mentioned before, teaching is a tough thing to evaluate.  There are no widely accepted tools for evaluating good teaching.  This can make it difficult to obtain acceptance and rewards for good teaching.  But the up-side is that we can use the Teaching Portfolio to define how we want our teaching evaluated.  We will talk more about this in class.  In the teaching environment you expect to find yourself, how will teaching be evaluated?  What will be considered effectiveness in teaching? 

The following websites contain descriptions of the Teaching Portfolio, its uses, as well as very interesting examples of Teaching Portfolios.  See if you can find an example that will be useful to you in your future teaching.

Seldin, Peter (1991). The teaching portfolio : a practical guide to improved performance and promotion/tenure decisions. Bolton, MA : Anker Pub. Co. CUT LB 2333 .S46 1991

Shore, B. M., Foster, S. F., Knapper, C. K., Nadeau, G. G., Neill, N. and Sim, V. (1986). The CAUT Guide to the Teaching Dossier: Its Preparation and Use. Montreal: Canadian Association of University Teachers. CUT LB 2333 .C28 1986

Graduate Student Resources

Statements on Teaching Philosophy

This is a tough piece to write for many people. This site may add some insight and help you.

Teaching Portfolios

This page aims to provide instructors with special notes about documenting their teaching.

McGill Teaching and Learning Centre

This is an excellent source of help in developing a teaching portfolio. Be sure to check it out. If you don't look at any others, I recommend this one. We've adapted many of the resources from McGill for your Portfolio Assignment.

Guidelines for Preparing Teaching Portfolios

Practical suggestions to help you get started preparing a portfolio

Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement

A very good place to start to understand a teaching philosophy statement.

Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement

Getting Started

How To Produce A Teaching Portfolio

Contains extracts from Peter Seldin's book. Seldin is the father of teaching portfolios.

Teaching and Learning Portfolios: Guidelines for Writing a Teaching Portfolio

In the 1990's, teaching portfolios have become increasingly widely used in universities. In part this has been due to the continuing debate about quality in university teaching, but it has also been in response to the need to address the problem of defining, recognising and evaluating good university teaching. The guidelines in this site have been prepared to assist in coming to terms with, and preparing, teaching portfolios.

The Teaching Dossier

One of the sites not to miss. Contains Step-by-Step instructions for the Creation of a Teaching Dossier. The teaching dossier is a condensed record of teaching activities and accomplishments drawn up by the university teacher or TA.

While you, as a graduate or senior undergraduate student, are just beginning your teaching, and your experiences in this area may be few, now is the time to begin recording your teaching accomplishments. Compiling a dossier may help you obtain a positi on in the future. Keeping documentation of outstanding work, letters of praise, and positive student evaluations of your teaching will help to build a comprehensive dossier, and perhaps give you some encouragement at times when it seems that teaching is n ot such a great way to make a living.

A Teaching Portfolio: A Guidebook Prepared by the Center for Teaching Effectiveness, The University of Texas at Austin

It is a factual description of a professor's teaching accomplishments supported by relevant data and analyzed by the professor to show the thinking process behind the artifacts. Most portfolios are NOT collections of everything that the professor has done in the way of teaching over his or her entire career. Rather they are selected samples that illustrate how that individual's teaching is carried out in the various venues in which teaching occurs. Edgerton, Hutchings and Quinlan (1991) describe portfolios as follows:

  1. Portfolios provide documented evidence of teaching that is connected to the specifics and contexts of what is being taught.
  2. They go beyond exclusive reliance on student ratings because they include a range of evidence from a variety of sources such as syllabi, samples of student work, self-reflections, reports on classroom research, and faculty development efforts.
  3. In the process of selecting and organizing their portfolio material, faculty think hard about their teaching, a practice which is likely to lead to improvement in practice.
  4. In deciding what should go into a portfolio and how it should be evaluated, institutions necessarily must address the question of what is effective teaching and what standards should drive campus teaching practice.
  5. Portfolios are a step toward a more public, professional view of teaching. They reflect teaching as a scholarly activity.

The Teaching Dossier, University of Toronto. A Canadian site, and therefore probably more useful in many ways.

Contains explanation of Teaching Portfolio and useful links to other resources.

A teaching dossier is a portfolio of documents (6-12 pages as suggested by the Canadian Association of University Teachers) that provides a summary of an individual's major teaching accomplishments and strengths. Although originally developed as a means of documenting teaching for the purpose of performance review, a dossier can also be a vehicle that allows one to reflect on teaching experience and establish goals and areas for improvement. Both for career reasons and for personal development as a teacher, preparing a teaching dossier can be a useful exercise.

Consider a Web-based Teaching Portfolio

The TLC's Teaching Portfolio Site Another Canadian site!

Excerpt from "Teaching Portfolios: Documenting Scholarship in Teaching", by Eileen M. Herteis
The Gwenna MossTeaching & Learning Centre, University of Saskatchewan

The work of Ernest Boyer has emphasized that teaching is not distinct from scholarship, too often and too narrowly interpreted as meaning only publication in refereed journals. Every teacher knows that his or her scholarship extends far beyond that contracted definition to encompass application, or community and public service; integration; professional practice; and, of course, teaching.

Boyer reminds us that teaching is scholarship; that the concept of scholarship is already inherent in teaching. However, we must use the same robust criteria for documenting and evaluating teaching as we do other forms of scholarship. Hence the teaching portfolio is both a process and a product. It is both the process of scholarly reflection on one's teaching and the result of that reflection. It is at once the receptacle for evidence of achievement and the means for teachers to discern ways to achieve more.

When you refer to your scholarly achievements, include teaching. If you limit the term "scholarly" to research, you are doing yourself a disservice. Teaching, research, community, professional and public service are all part of your scholarship. You are not a teacher-scholar; you are a scholar. Use the teaching portfolio and this web site to help you document that scholarship.

Samples of Teaching Dossiers on the Internet The following links contain a wide variety of samples of Teaching Portfolios. You will see that very often, no two are alike. It is one of the things I like best about the Teaching Portfolio--the opportunity for your own personality and values to shine through, as well as those of your institution.

Electronic Portfolio Samples

Sample Teaching Portfolios, by discipline. An excellent site.

Timothy A. Pychyl, Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa

Robert M. Corless, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario

General Teaching Portfolio Resources

Teaching Dossier Kit, courtesy of the University of Victoria

The Teaching Portfolio at Washinging State University

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.

The format and uses of the portfolio will naturally vary from one university or discipline to another. The outline contained in this site is meant to be an adaptable template, which can be modified for individuals.

In places where something like a teaching portfolio is already used, adaptation to this format 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.

Teaching Dossier Preparation: A guide for faculty members of the University of British Columbia, prepared by: Gail Riddell, Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth, with valuable assistance from Judith Johnson, Audiology and Speech Sciences and William Webber, Anatomy (date: May, 1999)

The five aspects of teaching that are publicly accountable are: vision, design, interaction, outcomes and analysis (Carnegie Foundation). Evidence of teaching effectiveness and student learning are most often gathered through the use of student, peer and self assessment, using a set of agreed-upon teaching criteria. This guide has been developed to help you systematically gather selected information and materials in support of teaching activities as you experience them. Self-analysis and reflection are the keys here, and the outcomes of that analysis are twofold: you make a strong case to others about your teaching competency, and you help yourself to understand and improve your approaches to teaching and learning.

Some form of the Teaching Dossier (or Teaching Portfolio, as it is called in the US and UK) is either required or strongly encouraged in a large number of universities for both reflection and assessment, and the numbers are growing. There is some evidence to support the claim that individuals using the Dossier demonstrate improvement in levels of teaching and learning (Seldin and Associates, 1993).

The Teaching Portfolio: A Model for Documenting Teaching and Its Improvement, from Cornell University Teaching Evaluation Handbook
Third Edition, 1997

Inclusiveness and brevity are two competing factors thatmust be considered in documenting teaching and its development. Inclusiveness has to do with whether there is enough data available to all those who must make a decision and whether that data represents the full range of activities and responsibilities associated with the candidate's teaching. Offsetting inclusiveness is the issue of brevity: has the available data been reduced to a manageable and digestible form without biasing or distorting the facts? Format of the data is another important factor. Different data will require different format guidelines, yet all data are related in various ways and should not be presented in isolation from each other. A range of data sources on a candidate's teaching effectiveness improves the quantitative objectivity by which that candidate is evaluated. If improvement of

According to Seldin, the teaching portfolio "would enable faculty members to display their teaching accomplishments for examination by others. And, in the process, it would contribute both to sound personnel decisions and to the professional development of individual faculty members. . . . It is a factual description of a professor's major strengths and teaching achievements. It describes documents and materials which collectively suggest the scope and quality of a professor's teaching performance." The Teaching Portfolio connects summative and formative evaluation functions in a single process, it honors teaching as a scholarly activity, it is a practical and efficient way to document teaching and its development over time, and it has been experimented with at several institutions. The construction of a teaching portfolio raises issues and questions that must be considered by the candidate and administrators engaged in the evaluation of teaching.

How to Create a Dossier, for Teaching Faculty, September 2001, Honolulu Community College

The dossier is your documentation of and self-assessment of your teaching and overall job performance. Typically, you are required to assemble and submit the dossier in support of your application for a teaching position, reappointment, tenure or promotion. It is a qualitative assembling or collection of evidence of your teaching and other professional development activities. It brings together in one place materials documenting your teaching strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and goals as well as providing information about your other non-teaching professional activities.

Its primary purpose is to provide you and your peers with an opportunity to reflect on your teaching and other professional activities in a systematic way. Its other purposes are: to improve your teaching performance; to encourage teaching improvement strategies at the individual and divisional levels; to enhance the profile of teaching accomplishments in the overall evaluation process for personnel decision-making.