Building Your Teaching Portfolio

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Building Your Teaching Portfolio

What is a teaching Portfolio?

A teaching portfolio is an organized collection or materials that you construct in order to demonstrate your effectiveness as a teacher. You could think of it as a teaching “resume”. For example, we construct regular resumes to find jobs, we construct vitae to help us land academic jobs, in similar fashion we should develop teaching portfolios to help us acquire jobs that involve teaching.

However the value of a teaching portfolio may not be limited to finding a job. Most colleges and universities use Teaching Portfolios or Teaching Dossiers in some form to make personnel decisions (either in hiring new people or granting tenure to existing personnel) (Centra, 1994). They also might give out significant awards based on excellence in teaching.

In what ways might a teaching portfolio be useful?


  • Demonstrate your effectiveness as a teacher; show that you know what good teaching is and how to implement it.

  • To show that you understand the role of a teacher in a classroom and within a discipline.

  • To help you land an academic job or use it to help you earn tenure. At UCLA Teaching Effectiveness plays a prominent role in Faculty Dossiers for Tenure (See “The UCLA Call, Summary of Procedures #2 – Guide to the Preparation of a Dossier” and “The Journey of the Dossier”).

  • Teaching Awards: UCLA evaluates Teaching Dossiers when giving out Distinguished Teaching Awards to faculty and TAs. TAs who have advanced to candidacy can win a $15,000 award for teaching excellence at UCLA.

Professional - Demonstrate to a potential employer that you:

  • are a good communicator (written and oral)

  • are a good leader

  • are a good team player

  • are a good motivator

  • have strong critical thinking skills

  • have strong organizational skills

Note that an employer may not look at your teaching portfolio directly, however, the act of constructing a teaching portfolio may help you discuss your teaching experience according to the themes listed above. In other words, you want to show an employer that it would be a good thing for them to hire someone with teaching experience.

Personal - As a focus for reflection and improvement. The act of constructing a teaching portfolio my help you to improve your own teaching.

  • Where did things go wrong in your teaching?

  • What went well and what went poorly?

  • How might you improve?

  • What would you do differently next time?

What goes in a portfolio; what should it demonstrate?

The contents of teaching portfolios may vary widely depending on the goals of the portfolio, the academic discipline, the audience, materials available, and the teachers themselves. Thus there is no clear right or wrong way to construct a portfolio, but they’re certainly are better and worse examples. Here are some ideas on what goes in a good teaching portfolio. These ideas come from a variety of different authors. You may identify strongly with one set of ideas or you may find that a combination works better for your purposes.

1) A Simple Set of materials from the Canadian Association of University Teachers ( from Centra, 1994)

A) Material about students that reflects their learning (for example, student workbooks or logs, student pre- and post-examination results).
B) Material from the faculty Member (course materials, syllabi, descriptions of how various materials were used in teaching, innovations attempted and their evaluation, curriculum development).
C) Material from others (evaluations from students, colleagues, or alumni).
2) Egerton et al. (1991) identify four major domains that might be included in a
Teaching Portfolio.

A) Materials demonstrating course planning and preparation (i.e. course syllabi and lecture notes).
B) Material about actual classroom instruction. This might include segments of videotapes of a teacher’s performance, or colleague and student comments based on classroom observation.
C) Evaluation and student feedback; the teacher’s comments on a graded student essay is an example.
D) Demonstrate professional development in one’s field. Examples include attending professional conferences or demonstrating the use of new knowledge in a course.
For each of the domains listed above, a teacher is expected to comment or reflect upon what was done.
3) Centra (1994) describes teaching effectiveness according to 13 categories of
performance grouped into 3 teaching skill areas. A teaching portfolio should provide evidence of effectiveness in each of these three areas:

Motivational Skills

  • Commitment to teaching: availability to students, willingness to work on student clubs and activities.

  • Goals orientation: outlines goals and expectations for students.

  • Integrated perception: helps students link classroom experiences to the broader context of their lives.

  • Positive action: helps students achieve by motivating them with a desire to succeed.

  • Reward orientation: rewards received from teaching, signs of enthusiasm and satisfaction with teaching; how successful student performance is rewarded.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Objectivity: handles tough situations calmly and objectively, concentrating on the solution rather than the blame; uses communication skills effectively to involve students in the subject matter.

  • Active listening: paraphrasing for clarification, attending to non-verbal clues and demonstrating that what the student has to say is valued.

  • Rapport: achieving and maintaining a favorable relationship with students.

  • Empathy: reaching out to students in need and recognizing student feelings; expressing care, yet asserting high expectations.

Intellectual Skills

  • Individualized perception: seeing students as individuals with different learning styles, different interests and different motivations, adjusting courses to individual needs.

  • Teaching strategies: employing a variety of well-organized teaching strategies; maintaining flexibility to be responsive to student needs.

  • Knowledge: staying current in your field and sharing the new knowledge with students in your classes; teaching from a wider range of sources including books, journal, conference, and so on.

  • Innovation: integrating new ideas in a planned, deliberate way and willingly taking risks for a successful innovation (course syllabus should be attached).

4) Suggestions for demonstrating teaching effectiveness from UCLA’s “The UCLA Call – Guide to the preparation of a Dossier” (

Teaching Evaluations

A tabulation of the numerical rating achieved by the candidate and a comparison with the Department average, or the group average of all those teaching the same courses, is helpful.

Other Sources of Evaluation
Letters which have been impartially solicited from peers, faculty, teaching or research assistants, postdoctoral fellows, students and others may be used to supplement teaching evaluations from questionnaires. This applies especially to thesis advising, innovative teaching projects, clinical or workshop guidance, and other teaching activities outside the conventional classroom situation. Critical analyses of syllabi prepared by the candidate can be valuable.
Peer Evaluation
Evidence of peer evaluation should be reflected in the department ad-hoc and/or department letter, using the following methods:
1) Comparative Charts – comparison of individual’s teaching with department average.
2) Visitations – classroom visits by standing committee or ad-hoc committee. Written evaluation by committee or individual letters of evaluation.

3) Letters from Peers – Solicited letters from individuals who may have co-taught with candidate. Letters should be solicited by the department, not the candidate.

4) Review of Materials - Analysis by committee of course materials. Review of syllabus.

5) Suggestions for Other Materials - There are a variety of different things one
could put in a teaching portfolio. Here is a brief list:

  • A list of courses you have taught.

  • Summary numbers from teaching evaluations.

  • Student comments from teaching evaluations.

  • Letters from peers, faculty, or students.

  • Course syllabi.

  • Assignments or tutorials that you have written.

  • Printouts from a course website.

  • Graded tests or papers.

  • A videotape of you teaching.

  • Personal statements such as a teaching philosophy or reflections on your teaching.

  • Innovations or improvements in a given curriculum; this might be a record of discoveries and how you implemented them.

  • Awards won.

  • Textbook reviews.

  • Contributions to improved teaching within the department, the discipline or a campus (e.g., leading a TA Training Program, conference workshops, journal articles about teaching, etc.).

How do you tie it all together?

At first glance a teaching portfolio may appear to be just a big pile of stuff, however, when you combine everything, your portfolio should tell a clear story about your skills and effectiveness as a teacher. Clearly this is a difficult task - luckily the UCLA TA Training Program has put together a workbook specifically designed to help graduate students assemble a simple 3–part teaching portfolio. In short you should describe your approach or philosophy of teaching, provide an explanation of how you employ this approach, and give evidence to back up your ideas or claims.

In terms of format, you could simply assemble the material in a binder in a logical order starting from your teaching philosophy or claims about your teaching and moving towards evidence and finally reflection on what you might do differently. Some teachers have chosen to put their entire teaching portfolio online as a website. The web-based format can make it a bit easier on readers since they do not have to lug around a large binder full of materials.

Activity: have participants start working on their own portfolios by using the Portfolio Workbook

Activity 1: Have them write down how they think a portfolio will help. Go around the room and have people share their ideas.

Make a list on the board:

Are their similarities?

Are there differences?

Did anyone suggest a use that hasn't been considered so far?
Activity 2a: Have them write down their three major teaching claims. That is, what do participants think they do well as a teacher? What would they like to do well or what do they think is important?

Make a list on the board:

What are the claims?

Are there dominant themes in the claims made by participants?

Are there unique or interesting suggestions?
Activity 2b: Have them write down what sorts of materials / assignments / activities might they use to reach their teaching goals.

Make a list on the board:

There could be any number of different strategies TAs might use. Try to
see if there is a good cross-section of different methods.
Note: There may be some confusion over the difference between teaching "claims" and teaching "goals". Here's the difference:

Goals: They are the end process of learning for students.

e.g. -

"I want my students to be able to speak Spanish using the past tense."

"I want my students to construct a simple linear regression model."

"I want my students to fully understand the Periodic Table of Elements"
Goals are typically set by the teacher for students. However, in some sense they are goals for the teacher as well. If students don't achieve the goals laid out by the teacher, has the teacher done their job well? Or rather, are there things the teacher might do differently next time?
Claims: These are specific statements made about the qualities or character of one's teaching style. e.g.-

"I frequently use active learning methods."

"I communicate well with my students."

"I am well prepared to teach before I enter a classroom."

"I make the course materials relevant to students' lives."

"I encourage students to ask questions and participate."
Activity 3: What are some forms of evidence participants might use to back up their teaching claims? What sorts of materials might be included - example assignments, teaching evals, summary numbers, student work examples, video, audio, peer revue, letters of rec?

Make a list on the board:

There could be any number of different things TAs might include.
Activity 4: (Discussed Green Guide) Have studentS create an outline for presentation of materials. What comes first? Second? Third?
Where can I find examples of Teaching Portfolios and other resources about creating a Teaching Portfolio?
With the advent of the Internet many teachers have found that teaching portfolios are much easier to read and navigate when presented in an electronic or web-based format. There are a number of websites out there that discuss the construction of teaching portfolios and provide examples.
Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (Penn State)

Cornell University Center for Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning Center – University of Nebraska Lincoln

Bibliography – What are the specific articles referenced in this handout?

Centra, J.A. (1994). “The Use of the Teaching Portfolio and Student Evaluations for Summative Evaluation.” Journal of Higher Education, vol. 65, n5, 555-570.

Edgerton, R., P. Hutchings, and K. Quinlan. The Teaching Portfolio: Capturing the Scholarship in Teaching. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education, 1991.
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