Office of the Provost
THE TEACHING PORTFOLIO AT
WASHINGTON 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.
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 very fact that the teaching portfolio is now in place should serve to underscore the increasing emphasis on the value of teaching at WSU and in higher education nationally. At WSU, this emphasis will be expressed in other ways, circumstances permitting.
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.
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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 for actions 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.
(The topics listed below reflect a broad concept of teaching. Others might be added.)
1. Percentage of appointment devoted to teaching, if stipulated.
2. Courses recently and currently taught, with credit hours and enrollments
When instructional duties for a course are shared, those of the faculty member should be described or at least represented by a percentage. Attachment of typical syllabi as exhibits may be appropriate.
3. Work with individual students
Examples: Guidance of independent study or undergraduate or graduate research; direction of theses; supervision of postdocs.
Examples: Advising for the Student Advising and Learning Center (SALC), advising of majors, advising students competing for prestigious scholarships or for admission to graduate or professional programs (advising students in one's own classes specifically about those classes does not belong here). Approximate numbers of students advised, etc.
5. Instructional innovations
Innovation is not essential to good teaching, but credit should be taken for major efforts to improve teaching. Examples: Novel use of instructional technology; development of collaborative arrangements outside the unit and/or university; adoption of such methods as collaborative learning, use of case studies, etc.
6. Extraordinary efforts with special groups of students
Examples: Exceptionally able students; members of underrepresented groups or groups facing special challenges (women in mathematics, men in nursing, returning students, physically impaired students).
7. Use of disciplinary research in teaching
Examples: Modification of syllabi, laboratory experiments, reading lists, etc., in light of one's own research; involvement of students in one's own research; special activities for helping students to develop creative and critical thinking skills for use in their research; ways in which teaching helps research.
8. Out-of-class evaluation activities
Examples: Participation in assessment of educational outcomes, such as end-of-program assessment; participation in conducting examinations for advanced degrees; screening students for scholarships and other distinctions.
9. Service on WSU or other committees concerned mainly with instruction
Examples: Service on the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee, and college and department committees of the same general kind.
10. Learning more about teaching
Examples: Programs of systematic reading in the literature on teaching; attending short courses and professional conferences concerned with teaching; leading or participating in faculty seminars concerned with teaching issues.
11. Projects and potential projects requiring non-state funding
Teaching-centered grants received and grant proposals under consideration. When other faculty members are involved, the role of the faculty member who is reporting should be made clear.
The "Evaluation" section in a portfolio should consist chiefly of summaries of data from whatever methods for evaluating teaching are used--not only evaluation by students. The data themselves may be attached in exhibits or offered as available on request. Some faculty members may wish to include explanations or rejoinders for evaluations which they believe to be potentially misleading.
1. Student evaluations
Examples: Results of student questionnaires; interviews of students; the one-minute essay and other forms of "classroom research."
2. Measures of student learning
Direct evidence of the extent and quality of learning by the faculty member's students, e.g. performance on appropriate standardized tests.
3. Peer evaluation
Reports from respected colleagues who have visited classes, examined instructional materials, talked with the faculty member, etc. Letters from colleagues may also be useful.
4. Letters from students, alumni, and employers of alumni
Solicited letters, e.g. from former students, are not likely to carry the credibility of unsolicited statements.
5. Teaching awards
Something should be said about the character of the awards if the names are not self-explanatory.
6. Other evaluations
1. Student successes
Examples: Noteworthy achievements of students (in awards, admissions to graduate school, employment, other accomplishments), for which the faculty member claims a significant part of the credit.
2. Instructional materials
Examples: Textbooks, workbooks, manuals, visual aids, software, etc.
3. Contributions to the scholarship of teaching
"The scholarship of teaching" treats teaching itself (especially in one's discipline) as a subject of scholarly discourse. Results may include oral presentations, papers in appropriate journals, etc.
In items 2 and 3, data about publications should be presented in some standard style.
4. Other results
These may include: detailed information (syllabi, student evaluation forms, reports of peer evaluations, grade distributions, etc.) about specific courses and other teaching activities; copies of materials listed under D.2; preprints or offprints of items listed under D.3; etc.
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[These examples do not present the portfolios with all the detail that they would ordinarily contain, but merely enough to suggest how each full portfolio might look. They are based on portfolios produced by members of the WSU faculty under the influence of the draft of February 4.]
AN INFORMAL TEACHING PORTFOLIO IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES.
TEACHING PORTFOLIO FOR X. Y.*
August 1, 1994
For each course, I identify the concepts and procedures that I want each student to master. Then I develop a sequence of instructional activities intended to lead to that mastery. Students are expected to demonstrate conceptual mastery, not just to recognize or recall....
I try to learn the name of each student and something more about him or her....
I regularly review my teaching practices and experiment with new ideas.
Typically, each semester I teach two courses and an undergraduate seminar. Specifically, in the last six semesters I have taught the following courses (numbers of students in parentheses):
The participants in the seminar obtain valuable experience as discussion group leaders in certain sections of the freshman course X.
In the past three years I have chaired x doctoral dissertation committees and y master's thesis committees, and have guided z honors theses.
This year I have advised 33 certified majors in my department and, for the advisory program in the SALC, about 12 students who are not yet certified.
While I do not believe in innovation for its own sake, I do treat each of my courses as a an experience from which I, too, can learn something. The object is to find ways to teach more effectively with available resources.
About a third of the students in the seminar mentioned above are from ethnic minorities, and are active in programs serving other students belonging to those groups. I have been a leader in the programs A, B, and C, which are concerned especially with the academic welfare of minority students, and they have received national attention, based in part on papers I have published about them. (See below.)
Many of the findings in my discipline have direct application in undergraduate instruction, and I have done my best to make use of them in my teaching. Examples include:
At WSU I have been a member (chair if an asterisk is attached) of the following university, college, and department committees concerned directly with teaching.
I try to follow the highlights of the literature on those aspects of university education that especially interest me. I scan every issue of the Journal of Higher Education and, as an individual member of the American Associate for Higher Education, I regularly receive and examine its Bulletin and the magazine Change which it publishes. I often follow up on publications cited in these journals. Recent constraints on travel have prevented me from attending as many conferences on teaching in my field as I would have liked, but I have in fact attended the following since I came to WSU:
I have received special funding with WSU for several of the projects mentioned above, namely:
I have also received the following grants from the Lilly Endowment, the Exxon Foundation, and FIPSE:
A program officer at FIPSE has encouraged me to submit a proposal for a sequel to the FIPSE grant just mentioned, and I plan to do so in the next round.
In general, student evaluations of my courses have been positive, and the written comments have been laudatory. In the fall of 1993, my two classes rated higher than any others in the department; but they were also the smallest classes. The appendix contains a random selection of written comments from students. My department does not make systematic use of peer evaluations, but my colleagues think highly of my contributions in team-taught courses and my occasional guest lectures.
I have no way of measuring how much I contribute to the professional welfare of the students who earn a baccalaureate in our department. In general, they do very well, whether or not they go on for graduate work. Those students who have done graduate work under my supervision have done very well indeed, as the following information about those who have received advanced degrees in the past three years indicates:
I have published about 45 research papers and reports in my field. I have also published, or am awaiting an editorial decision on, the following papers specifically concerned with teaching:
Signed: X**************** Y***************
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A RELATIVELY FORMAL PORTFOLIO FROM A CLINICAL DISCIPLINE
August 1, 1994
1. Teaching Philosophy
Students should derive long-term benefits from their time in my classes by continuing to grow and develop.... Rather than supply students with static facts, I believe that I will serve them better by teaching them how to define a problem, how to decide what they need to solve it, how to find and evaluate new information, how to recognize their limits, and how to be prepared both for change and to change. I prefer to involve the student in a creative thinking process.... A difficult teaching issue, but an important aspect of clinical practice, is the ambiguous, uncertain, and sometimes contradictory nature of clinical problems.... I continue to learn from experience and from the literature about the dynamics of teaching and about my discipline so I can improve my effectiveness as an instructor.
2. Primary Goal
My primary goal is to have a positive effect on the students' future professional practice. Part of the impact involves stimulating students to consider situations from perspectives different from those they normally adopt. This goal also involves encouraging students to develop career-long habits of self-motivated learning....
1. Courses taught
[A two-page listing by semester, in detail, of courses taught beginning in 1990, with catalog numbers, titles, number of credits, number of students, number of hours of involvement. The list concludes with a half-page "Special Note" about a senior-level course that was extensively reworked because of widespread misperceptions about the importance and centrality of its subject, and because of the fact that the typical student in the discipline is "relatively innumerate."]
2. Individual students
[A list of five undergraduate and professional students, and a list of nine postdoctoral trainees, with a short paragraph about each.]
[A short paragraph about the kind of advising done, the number of students advised, and some of the results of this advising.]
4. Instructional Innovations
[Three items are listed: one having to do with introducing aspects of statistics into a graduate program to display the effects of chance on results that involve sampling; and two new or considerably modified courses, with brief descriptions.]
5. Extraordinary Efforts for Under-Represented Groups
I have encouraged several women who were initially unsure of their ability to perform the physical work sometimes required to enter this practice field. This encouragement has included suggesting that they do externships with successful female practitioners.
6. Use of Disciplinary Research
I incorporate my research into my teaching to different degrees, depending on appropriateness for the course [examples].... I encourage students to become directly involved in...research projects, usually under the workstudy program, and give them opportunities to provide creative input to projects.
7. Evaluation Activities
Participation in advanced degree examinations: [List of four persons, each with a brief description of the student and of the faculty member's role.]
8. Instructional Service
[List of three college committees to which P.Q. belongs, including names of the committees and their chairs, periods of involvement, and estimates of time spent.]
9. Learning About Teaching
[A rather lengthy essay describing how the author became especially interested in study of the teaching process, read some of the key books (listed), and read "several folders of papers" developed from a search through "over a decade of journals" concerned with education in the field. P.Q. has recently attended several conferences, at least one of them national, on aspects of teaching in this field.]
10. Extramural funding
[P.Q. has been a cooperator in an externally funded educational project for youth.]
1. Student evaluations
[Careful description of the procedure in the college for collecting these data; description of the range of scores; explanations of the lowest scores, and brief indications of plans for doing something about them. There is a well-organized one-page table of numerical results.]
2. Peer Evaluation Summary
All peer teaching evaluations that I have received are contained under supporting materials - teaching. [Several sentences of analysis.] All of the...evaluations contain useful suggestions, which I will implement.
3. Student, Alumni and Employer Letters
A copy of a student letter to the dean...is included in the appendix. . .
4. Colleague Teaching Letters
[See C.2 above.]
5. Teaching Awards Received
None [a statement of this kind need not have been included].
6. Self-Evaluation of Teaching Deficiencies
[P.Q. describes a speech impediment believed to detract from lecturing, and measures that have been taken and will be taken to compensate. P. Q. was disappointed by students' failure to do assigned reading in preparation for class discussions, and is developing methods for correcting this problem.]
1. Student Successes
[Influence on a student in the master's program is playing a role in that student's success in a doctoral program at another university, to which P. Q. helped to obtain admission for the student.]
2. Teaching Materials
Included in course materials in the appendix; created on a PC, so easily revised.
[No "Presentations and Publications on Scholarship of Teaching" or "Other Products" were listed.]
Signed: P**************** Q***************
Ronald Barnett, "Linking Teaching and Research: A Critical Inquiry." Journal of Higher Education 63:6 (November/December 1992) 619-636.
Ernest L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the a Professoriate (Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990).
William E. Cashin, "Defining and Evaluating College Teaching" (IDEA Paper No. 21) (Manhattan, KS: Center for Faculty Evaluation & Development, Kansas State University, 1989).
John A. Centra, Reflective Faculty Evaluation: Enhancing Teaching and Determining Faculty Effectiveness (San Francisco, etc.: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993).
Janet G. Donald and Arthur Sullivan, eds., Using Research to Improve Teaching (New Directions for Teaching and Learning 23) (San Francisco, etc.: Jossey-Bass, Publishers, 1985).
Russell Edgerton, Patricia Hutchings, and Kathleen Quinlan, The Teaching Portfolio: Capturing the Scholarship in Teaching (Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education, 1992).
Elaine El-Khawas, Campus Trends 1993 (Higher Education Panel Report No. 83) (Washington, DC: American Council of Education, July 1993).
Peter T. Ewell, "To Capture the Ineffable: New Forms of Assessment in Higher Education." Review of Research in Higher Education 17 (1991), 75-125.
Barbara J. Millis, "Putting the Teaching Portfolio in Context." To Improve the Academy, 10 (Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press, 1991) 215-229.
Earl H. Potter III, Mark W. Dubin, and Susan B. Stine, "Undergraduate Education in the Public Research University: Defining a Shared Vision," Papers, Pew Higher Education Research Program, 1991.
Peter Seldin, The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc., 1991).
Peter Seldin and Associates, How Administrators Can Improve Teaching (San Francisco, etc.: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1990).
Peter Seldin et al., Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios (Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc., 1993).
Peter Seldin and Linda Annis, "The Teaching Portfolio." Teaching at UNL [Teaching and Learning Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln] Vol. 13, No. 2 (September 1991) 1-2, 4.
Bruce M. Shore, et al., The Teaching Dossier: A Guide to Its Preparation and Use, revised (Montreal: Canadian Association of University Teachers, 1986).
Beverly T. Watkins, "New Technique Tested to Evaluate College Teaching: Effort Uses Portfolios to Document Professors' In-Class Performance." The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 16, 1990) A15f.
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