Portfolios (Teaching and Learning)

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Teaching Portfolios

“The teaching portfolio is a collection of materials that document teaching performance.”[1].

This section of the website provides an overview of teaching portfolios, with links to fabulous existing resources. We have drawn upon our favourite sites and references to create this section of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology site and hope that you will find these as useful as we have in developing your understanding of teaching portfolios and in creating your own portfolio. In addition to the information below, you may also wish to consult our Teaching Portfolio Preparation Guide.

Why Create a Portfolio?

The teaching portfolio can serve many purposes, some of which include the following:

  • Reflecting on your goals as a teacher
  • Assessing your teaching strengths and areas which need improvement
  • Documenting your progress as a teacher
  • Generating ideas for future teaching/course development
  • Identifying your personal teaching style
  • Using elements of the portfolio to promote dialogue with fellow teachers
  • Considering new ways of gathering student feedback
  • Gathering detailed data to support your goals
  • Collecting multiple sources of evidence that document the implementation of your teaching goals and their success

One would use a portfolio during the academic job search, promotion and tenure process, and for personal and professional development.[2]

Getting Started

The teaching portfolio is your chance to make a case for your effectiveness as a university teacher. Think about your portfolio in much the same way that you approach a research question, and build a case to support your “effective teacher” thesis. First, you should think broadly about what the act of teaching means to you. Later, you can reflect upon and describe the sorts of evidence chosen to support your case.

It is useful to have a set of widely-used effective teaching criteria against which to measure yourself. The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education provides a set of such criteria.

For UBC-specific documentation about the University’s commitment to teaching, see:

Key teaching principles and practices adapted by a UBC Senate ad hoc committee (Look under Evaluation tools) UBC TREK 2010 Learning Pillar (see Learning – Goals and Strategies)

Here at CTLT, we offer regular Teaching Portfolio seminars as well as individualized one-on-one consultations to help you get started. We also have a Portfolio Community of Practice which is open to anyone at UBC and beyond.

Related Links

Contact

For more information, please contact Lucas Wright at lucas.wright@ubc.ca.

References

  1. Seldin, P. (2004) The Teaching Portfolio. Bolton, MA: Anker
  2. The Ohio State University’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching

Teaching Portfolios at UBC

The teaching portfolio allows you to build a coherent and thorough case for your effectiveness as a teacher. Though the portfolio does not travel past the departmental tenure and promotion committee, the UBC CV does. Your UBC CV can be effectively augmented with carefully selected evidence from your teaching portfolio. Consequently, a well-constructed portfolio helps build an effective CV that travels through the entire UBC tenure and promotion system.

Candidates up for tenure and promotion are required to record information about teaching in the Teaching section of the UBC-CV. Candidates need to indicate the courses taught and they are encouraged to provide a concise statement of teaching philosophy or approach to teaching.

Using e-Portfolios in your Classroom

Did you know your e-Portfolio can be used to introduce yourself to students or as a teaching tool? If you want to create a portfolio just for a class, you can either create a new e-Portfolio, or duplicate your current one, then make deletions/additions as necessary. Once you add your students to the list of reviewers, they will then get a link via email to your e-Port. (If you have a really big class, you can also just add yourself as a reviewer, then forward the link your students.)

One of the advantages to this is that you can make use of the commenting feature to have students add comments to materials you provide through your e-Portfolio. It can also be a record of all the things you’ve done so far in the course. This is a quick and easy way to get your course content online.

UBC Specific Teaching Portfolio Samples

The following are Teaching Portfolios created by faculty, staff and students who belong to the UBC community. As you look through these, note that each is made unique not only by its “look”, but also by the content, organization and overall presentation. If you would be willing to have your portfolio added to this list, please email Lucas Wright at lucas.wright@ubc.ca.

Below are sample teaching e-Portfolios:

  • Shona Ellis – Instructor, UBC Botany Department
  • Joanne Fox – Instructor, Michael Smith Laboratories and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, UBC
  • Beth Snow – Ph.D Student (former), UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems

What Goes Into A Teaching Portfolio

Teaching philosophy statement

Philosophy of teaching statements are concise statements of what you believe about teaching and learning. Your teaching philosophy statement is reflective, personal, and normally written as a narrative. This statement is generally between one and two pages in length.

  • Questions for reflection
    • What are your goals with respect to student learning?
    • How would you describe the atmosphere in your classroom? How do you think your students would describe it?
    • How do you help students to learn?
    • What steps do you take to encourage higher level learning (such as synthesis, analysis, application, problem-solving, etc.)?
    • What skills and values do you bring to the instructional aspect of your job?
    • What is active learning and how do you use it in the classroom and in assignments?
    • In which ways has your teaching changed in the last five years? Are they changes for the better (for you, for your students)? Explain.
    • What qualities would you like to be remembered by as a teacher?

Teaching Activities

  • Teaching responsibilities:
    • Titles and numbers of courses taught, including graduate, undergraduate, and reading courses. You may wish to briefly highlight those courses that you have developed or substantially revised.
    • Actual teaching methods used in the classroom (e.g., collaborative inquiry, problem-based learning, case studies, lecture, small group discussion, problem-solving, project-based, student presentations or other critical thinking pedagogies)
    • Sample: Don G. Wardell (click Courses then Teaching Responsibilities and Evaluations)
  • Supervising and Advising Students
    • Documentation of supervision activity includes names of those supervised and the nature and extent of the supervisory activity. It is also useful to indicate the outcome of the supervision (e.g. the thesis title and acceptance date, the citation information of a student publication, or the date and venue of a public performance).
  • Publications and professional contributions (that contribute to teaching and learning)
    • Workshops and seminars about teaching that you designed and instructed
    • Research and professional contributions related to teaching – books, papers, articles, papers in conference proceedings, bibliographies, newsletters, unpublished conference papers
    • Sample: Mable Kinzie
  • Activities engaged upon to improve teaching and learning
    • Summarize your attendance in any teaching-related seminars, workshops or conferences, and explain how you used new information in the classroom.
  • Committee ServiceMany activities do not take place in classrooms but provide important support for teaching. Here is the place to list your involvement in the departmental, faculty and University-wide activities which contribute to strengthening teaching.

Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness

  • Objective indicators of student progress, where available (proficiency tests, students’ standings on nation-wide tests, etc.)
  • Feedback from supervisors or employers of graduates

Ways to Assess and Reflect Upon Teaching

  • Departmental teaching evaluations (initiated by the unit)
  • Peer evaluations or reviews based on visits to your classroom and/or scrutiny of your course materials
  • Teaching awards
  • Samples
    Mike Barnett
    Paul L. Schumann (see Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness)

Course Portfolios

The course portfolio is a form of inquiry into the impact a course is having on student understanding. It is an indepth portrayal of a single course and can be a sub-set of a teaching portfolio.

The course portfolio can help answer questions such as:

  • Are my students truly learning what I think I am teaching them?
  • Am I meeting my course goals?
  • Are my course goals right for this course?
  • Are the assignments I have chosen having an impact on students’ learning?
  • Are the objectives and topics appropriate to this course?
  • Are the evaluation methods fair?

The course portfolio makes visible the intellectual work of teaching. Since it is available for public view, subject to peer review, and available for further study and use, the course portfolio assumes the scholarship of teaching and learning.

“When all the careful, difficult, intentional, and scholarly work of planning and teaching a course is undocumented, it is lost for further use. Not only is it unavailable for the teacher’s own reflection, but it is not there for aspiring teachers and colleagues to learn from. It is also unavailable to those making important decisions about hiring, promotion, and tenure, and to those mentoring colleagues who are being considered in those processes.”

Bernstein, D., & Wert, E. (2004). Making visible the intellectual work in teaching. Tomorrow’s Professor Msg. #554. (see: http://ctl.stanford.edu/Tomprof/postings/554.html)

Additional Resources:

e-Portfolios

What is an e-Portfolio?

This can be a source of confusion. Is an e-Portfolio just a resume on steroids? Or is it a conceptual understanding, what is often referred to as “Folio Thinking”? We define e-Portfolios as personalized, web-based collections of work, responses to work and reflections that are used to demonstrate key skills and accomplishments for a variety of contexts and time periods.

Strictly speaking, an e-Portfolio isn’t an e-Portfolio if it doesn’t contain reflections and isn’t shared. But as with most things, when we speak too strictly, we are quickly handed an exception. Indeed, some people have a very-unreflective CV online and they still call it an e-Portfolio. So, what is an e-Portfolio?

The term ‘e-portfolio’ can be used to refer to any of these things (and more):

  • a website that features your teaching philosophy and CV, or
  • a collection of your work and reflections on that work that you keep on your computer at home, or
  • a site, like iWebFolio, that allows you to share feedback and e-Portfolios with a network of people.

Your e-Portfolio could be a showcase or a private area of reflection. But e-Portfolios can be much more than just 21st century resumes; they’re opportunities to build community, and improve and reflect on your practice.

What is a teaching e-Portfolio?

A teaching e-Portfolio is a collection of your best work as an instructor, and will often include items like:

  • Your teaching philosophy
  • A list of courses taught, with numbers of students, etc.
  • Lesson plans
  • Awards you’ve received

In other words, it has some similarities with UBC CV, in that it does showcase your training, accomplishments and skills, but is more personal, more professional- and personal-growth oriented. Again examples are worth a thousand words. You may also find Teaching Portfolio Preparation Guide useful.

Who would use one?

Anyone who is interested in reflecting on their teaching with the aim of becoming a better teacher. It may also be useful for those seeking promotion or tenure; it is always important to show what you are doing to improve your teaching.

How can I get started?

Send a message to Lucas Wright at lucas.wright@ubc.ca and he can discuss with you possible approaches and tool options. You can also attend an e-Portfolio seminar regularly offered by CTLT for an idea of the scope of an e-Portfolio, and some suggestions about how to start collecting and sorting your artifacts.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of an e-Portfolio compared to a paper-based portfolio?

The advantages of an e-Portfolio are generally considered to be:

  • portability – you can access it from anywhere, unlike an often-sizeable paper copy
  • media-richness – the ability to easily include graphics, audio, video and so on
  • ease of repurposing – you can easily create several versions of your e-Portfolio for several different audiences
  • control of access – you control who sees it, and for how long
  • organizational ability – e-Portfolios are great for organizing a large amount of information, and keeping it all in one place

The disadvantage of a some ‘template-based’ systems (such as iWebFolio 2.0) is:

  • lack of customizability – the style can be rigid and difficult to customize

The disadvantages of a teaching e-Portfolios in general are:

  • possible lack of acceptance as promotional tool – your department may not know much about or accept a teaching e-Portfolio as part of a tenure/promotion process, although this is changing as more people learn about e-portfolios
  • lack of printability – yes, you can print from most applications , and it looks acceptable, but it isn’t as easy as it should be, and MS Word still does it better

We’re not suggesting that you should or should not create a teaching e-portfolio. That’s up to you. Yes, it’s a commitment, but the reward is, we believe, a tool for improving your teaching. If you’re curious, send a message to lucas.wright@ubc.ca.

Can someone steal my work?

In a word, yes. But that is true of almost all web-based material. Someone can steal Microsoft’s work, too. So, as with anything on the web, if you’re especially concerned about copyright or malicious manipulation, you can either a) stick to Canada Post and carrier pigeons, b) learn some JavaScript, or c) do the following:

  • if you’re using WordPress, you can set the access permissions for the people you share your e-Portfolio with, and
  • make sure you share your e-Portfolio with people you can trust.

We haven’t heard of any examples of malicious use of e-Portfolios so far, so it’s likely you’ll be okay.

Paper vs. Electronic

When it comes to developing your teaching portfolio, you will need to decide on a format: it can be in paper or electronic form – some people do both.

The following are some things to consider:

Electronic Paper
Audience Who is your target reader? Which format is most accessible to your target audience (i.e. most likely to be read)? Which format does your reader expect/want?
Ability to Customize Most software allows you to make a duplicate copy of your portfolio, resave with a different name, and edit as necessary, as well as modifying the ‘look and feel’ (colours, fonts and so on). All relevant documents will need to be resaved with changes and then printed off.
Multimedia Can store pictures, video clips, sound clips, text, images. Can include text and images, as well as physical copies of CDs, DVDs and so on.
Portability May be downloaded or copied to a CD-rom. Can be viewed from any computer with internet access. As it is a physical document, it is often bulky, consisting of one or more large binders.
Security Variable, depending on the portfolio software: you can invite people to view your portfolio, send a link to your portfolio, make your portfolio public, or keep it private. Portfolio can be viewed by those whom you give it to in hardcopy format.
Ability to demonstrate learning/knowledge construction over time Yes Yes
Feedback Depending on the software used to create the portfolio, others may be able to provide you with feedback and you can choose/not to make feedback visible to those who read your portfolio. Feedback cannot be easily incorporated into the portfolio unless you add it as a separate document.
Potential to encourage interaction (collaboration, communication) Easy to share as a hyperlink. You can choose to release smaller parts of it to certain people and allow others to view most or all of the material on your portfolio site; you may even pre-set a time span during which a given part of your portfolio can be viewed. Can be shared by lending the physical copy or printing/photocopying more copies.
Flexibility Yes. Flexibility influenced by choice of software to create portfolio and by ability to use software. Flexible within the constraints of using paper and hardcopy artifacts.
Organizing and cataloguing learning materials Material can be easily organized, catalogued and modified; eportfolio software often includes tools for organizing/reorganizing materials. Materials can be organized, catalogued and modified within their source files (Word, PDF) or by reorganizing the paper copy.

Software

As mentioned earlier, if you decide to create an electronic portfolio instead of or in addition to a paper one, you will need to choose some type of software to create your portfolio. There are a number of choices available – you could choose a method as simple as saving Word files as webpages, linking them together, then uploading them to the Internet. Before you select a software type, you should ask yourself some questions to determine what kind of portfolio tool is right for you:

  • How important is security to you?
  • Do you want to make it private or public?
  • How important is it for the portfolio to look exactly as you want it?
  • Is printability important to you?
  • Is sharing/collaboration important to you?
  • How important is portability to you? Do you want a portfolio you might want to take with you to future positions/institutions?

Each software option has its own answers to these questions: some have more or less security, or greater or lesser control over the ‘look and feel.’ There is not really one perfect software type, but instead there are different choices that will fit the needs of different users. For example, if maintaining security is important to you, you may not want to go with Dreamweaver, unless your portfolio is within a password-protected environment like WebCT. If selecting who to share your portfolio with is important to you, iWebfolio or KEEP Toolkit may be better for you in this regard than PDF.

Download the Teaching Portfolio Software Comparison PDF for list of popular software choices with a comparison of their relative benefits and features. For specific advice on choosing a software type, please contact Isabeau Iqbal at isabeau.iqbal@ubc.ca to arrange a one-on-one meeting.

Select Bibliography

Link to Complete Bibliography
For a complete bibliography, please visit the CTLT's shared folder on Refworks.

Having problems? Visit the RefWorks information guide.


  • Daniel Bernstein et al., Making teaching and learning visible: course portfolios and the peer review of teaching, (Boston: Anker, 2006). Available in the CTLT Resource Room.
  • D.U. Bolliger and C.E. Shepherd, "Student Perceptions of ePortfolio Integration in Online Courses," Distance Education, 2010 (31) Vol. 3: 295-314. Ubc-elink.png
  • Laura C. Haniford, "Tracing One Teacher Candidate's Discursive Identity Work", Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 2010 (26), Vol. 4: 987-996. link=http://gw2jh3xr2c.search.serialssolutions.com/?sid=Refworks%3AUniversity%20of%20British%20Col&charset=utf-8&__char_set=utf8&genre=article&aulast=Haniford&auinit=L.C.&title=Teaching%20and%20Teacher%20Education%3A%20An%20International%20Journal%20of%20Research%20and%20Studies&date=2010&volume=26&pages=987-996&issue=4&issn=0742-051X&atitle=Tracing%20One%20Teacher%20Candidate's%20Discursive%20Identity%20Work&spage=987&au=Haniford%2CLaura%20C.%20&"


Online Resources

The learning portfolio: A powerful idea for significan learning - The IDEA Center Publications

See Also

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