Teaching Profolios

  Developing Your Own Teaching Portfolio  
     
 

Section 1: Evidence about the effectiveness of teaching

Section 2: Reflections on the evidence relating to teaching

Section 3: Personal action plan for teaching development


 

The format and style of a Teaching Portfolio will vary with the staff members who create it. There is not a single 'correct' way of doing it. Very often, the format and style will vary according to the purpose and the targeted reader of creating that portfolio.

For the purposes of encouraging reflection and improving teaching, the Teaching Portfolio could usefully consist of the following three Sections:

  1. Feedback or evidence relating to the effectiveness of teaching
  2. Based on that evidence, conclusions about the ways in which teaching could most usefully be developed and enhanced
  3. A Personal Action Plan for bringing about that development and enhancement

Section 1: Evidence about the effectiveness of teaching

What should go in a Teaching Portfolio?

There is no hard and fast prescription for material to be included. However, evidence gathered from N.America over 20 or more years suggests that the most common sources of evidence to be included are the following.

  1. Student ratings of teaching (from SFQ-type surveys): which show overall levels of satisfaction - or improvements
  2. List of courses taught, enrolments, etc.
  3. Course materials prepared for students
  4. Participation in Workshops, Seminars, Conferences about improving teaching
  5. Statements from colleagues who have observed teaching or who have taught on the same course
  6. Description of teaching innovations and evaluations of their effectiveness
  7. Post-course written evaluations by students
  8. Evidence of course and curriculum developments
  9. Evidence of successful graduate supervision
  10. Examples of students' work: projects, assignments, etc.

Listed below are some areas in which you may find it useful to assemble evidence - such as that listed above - about your teaching and its effectiveness. Some suggested Stimulus Questions are given for each of the areas: these are intended to stimulate ideas about relevant evidence that might be gathered.

There is no implication that staff should:

  • gather evidence in all of these areas;
  • answer all of the Stimulus Questions in any one area;
  • be constrained by these particular stimulus questions in gathering evidence.

And, as outlined earlier, appropriate evidence is normally that which is generated in the regular course of teaching: it is not useful for staff to spend significant amounts of time in generating and assembling evidence simply to put in a Teaching Portfolio.

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A. Teaching Methods

Stimulus Questions:

  • What is it that I am aiming to do in my teaching?
  • What teaching methods do I use?
  • Why do I use these particular methods (in preference to others that may be available)?
  • To what extent are they consistent with my teaching aims?
  • How do I know that they help students to learn?

Example

B. Assessment Methods and Feedback to Students

Stimulus Questions:

  • What methods do I use to assess students' learning?
  • Why do I use those methods of assessment?
  • Are they useful in focusing and promoting effective student learning?
  • How do I provide feedback to students on their performance?
  • Is my feedback adequate, timely, constructive and helpful in facilitating students' learning?

Example

C. Teaching Materials

Stimulus Questions:

  • What teaching materials do I make available to students, or otherwise use in my interactions with them?
  • Why do I use these materials?
  • How do these materials help my teaching and my students' learning?

Example

D. Accessibility to Students

Stimulus Questions:

  • Is my communication with students adequate and effective?
  • How do I ensure that students with academic difficulties have appropriate opportunities to interact with me?
  • How do I know that those interactions are useful for students?

Example

E. Student Learning Outcomes and Achievements

Stimulus Questions:

  • How do I know that the students who graduate from the subjects or courses that I teach have achieved appropriate learning goals?
  • How do I know that my teaching has helped students to learn?

Example

F. Feedback on Teaching

Stimulus Questions:

  • What feedback have I obtained on my teaching - and from whom?
  • How do I know that this feedback is valid?
  • What actions have I taken to improve my teaching, and students' learning, based on this feedback?

Example

G. Course and Subject Management / Leadership / Development

Stimulus Questions:

  • What roles do I play in relation to leadership or management of existent courses or subjects?
  • What actions am I taking in relation to the development of new subjects or courses, or the modificationof existent ones?

Example

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Section 2: Reflections on the evidence relating to teaching

The aim of this Section is to stimulate a self-evaluation, through reflection on the evidence that has been presented in Section 1. The basic kinds of questions which might usefully be asked are the following.

Again these are not meant to be comprehensive or prescriptive; they are given as examples.

  1. What is it that I do well in my teaching?
    What are the "good practices" in which I engage?
    What is the major evidence that leads me to the conclusion that these aspects of my teaching are successful?
    Is there anything I need to do to ensure that these positive aspects of my teaching continue?
  2. Are there aspects of my teaching where I need to "fine-tune" what I do: i.e. make some minor modifications?
    What are the "good practices" in which I engage?
    What is the evidence on which I base these conclusions?
    Can I carry out these modifications on my own? Or do I need to enlist some help? From colleagues in the department? From someone else?
  3. Are there any "problem areas" in my teaching where I definitely need to make significant changes in modifying what I do?
    What are the basic reasons for these problems or difficulties?
    What evidence do I have for this?
    What changes need to be made to overcome these problems / difficulties:
    (a) by me?
    (b) by others?

What is the evidence that leads me to the conclusion that these changes will help to overcome the difficulties that have been identified?

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Section 3: Personal action plan for teaching development

Compiling evidence and reflecting upon it, via a Teaching Portfolio or any other kind of arrangement, will not be useful unless action takes place that leads to enhancement of teaching and learning. Hence, this Section is the most important one. The aim is to develop a personal action plan, based upon the evidence and reflections included in Sections 1 and 2.

The following kinds of questions may help to stimulate the formulation of a useful personal Action Plan. Again, it must be stressed that these are offered as examples only.

  1. What are the major actions I need to take in order to ensure that:
    (a) the "good practices" identified in my teaching are sustained;
    (b) any necessary "fine-tuning" of teaching practice takes place;
    (c) major problems or difficulties encountered are addressed.
  2. What kinds of development might be needed?
    Some possibilities - and again these are offered as examples only - are the following.
    •  Implementing changes in teaching methods, assessment methods or subject organisation
    •  Developing teaching skills (facilitating student interaction, questioning skills, learning to use technology, etc.)
    •  Developing relationships with industry or profession in order to generate more relevant and up-to-date teaching materials
    •  Developing better teaching materials that will help to guide students through the subject and let them know what is expected of them
    •  Development of personal qualities (confidence, time-management, etc.) that will lead to greater efficiency and / or effectiveness in teaching
    •  Others
  3. What specific activities would best lead to the developments identified above?
    The following list, which is not meant to be prescriptive in any way, may suggest some possibilities.
    •  Taking part in educational development projects that aim to enhance teaching and learning
    •  Attending Workshops or Seminars on teaching related topics
    •  Producing and eval uating teaching / learning resources
       -  Multimedia materials
       -  Computer-based learning activities
       -  Student learning guides
       -  Resource packages
    •  Setting up a peer support arrangement with a colleague or group of colleagues
    •  Attending conferences relating to teaching and learning
    •  Others

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