Teaching Portfolios for Graduate Students
When you go on the job market, you will need to be ready to demonstrate your teaching effectiveness on paper as well as be prepared to talk meaningfully about your teaching during interviews. Preparing a teaching portfolio can be an important step in this process.
What is a Teaching Portfolio?
A teaching portfolio is a purposeful collection of artifacts that demonstrates your accomplishments in the classroom, your growth and development as a teacher, and your reflections on your teaching experience. The foundation of a portfolio is the philosophy of teaching statement, which is a brief narrative statement explaining your conception of teaching and learning. The other elements of a portfolio will vary according to discipline, but they might include sample course syllabi, sample assignments or projects from your classes, student evaluation data, samples of student work, or evidence of your efforts at improving your teaching. There are many other possibilities as well; a teaching portfolio is an individualized piece that demonstrates who you are as a teacher.
Why Create a Teaching Portfolio?
Effectiveness in the classroom is increasingly important to getting that first faculty position, and a strong teaching portfolio is an important way to show this. A 2006 study showed that at least half of hiring institutions, including research institutions, requested that applicants submit at least a statement of teaching philosophy (an essential component of a teaching portfolio) at some point during the hiring process. A strong teaching portfolio lets a prospective employer learn who you are as a teacher and whether your values match with those of the institution. It can also provide the foundation of what will eventually be a tenure portfolio, so you have a head start once you land that first faculty job. Even if you aren’t asked for a teaching statement or a full portfolio during your job search, the experience of articulating your philosophy of teaching and compiling evidence related to your teaching will help you prepare for interviews, where you will inevitably be asked to discuss your teaching.
When Should I Create a Teaching Portfolio?
Given the importance of teaching in most academic positions, it’s never too early to begin assembling materials for your portfolio. Even before you teach, it can be useful to start developing a statement of teaching philosophy. As you gain more experience, that philosophy will evolve, and you will have evidence to show how your teaching values materialize in your classroom practice. Most importantly, if you start assembling materials for your portfolio now, you will save yourself time once you start applying for faculty positions. Starting early can also give you the opportunity to begin collecting some of the important artifacts that will allow you to present your effectiveness as a teacher, including samples of student work, data about student learning in your classes and solicited and unsolicited comments from students about your teaching.
What are the Essential Elements of a Teaching Portfolio?
Because the specific components of a Teaching Portfolio may differ across disciplines, there will likely be a great deal of variation in the specific contents of portfolios. Each portfolio, however, must contain elements of the following:
- Beliefs about teaching: What do I think I’m doing in the classroom, and why? This will be most explicitly stated in the statement of teaching philosophy and these beliefs should provide a consistent thread that ties together the entire portfolio.
- Teaching behaviors: What methods do I use in my classroom? Why do I use these methods? You might include materials such as sample syllabi, class activities, tests, assignments, and information about the scope of your teaching experience. Keep in mind that all samples of course materials need to be accompanied by reflective statements explaining what they demonstrate about your teaching.
- Evidence: How can I show the effect of my methods? This is your opportunity to allow others' perspectives on your teaching to emerge. In addition to results from student evaluations, this evidence can also include reflections from peer observations or even samples of student work. As with teaching materials, remember that all evidence should always be presented in context and accompanied by reflections on what it demonstrates about your teaching effectiveness.
Where Can I Find Out More About Teaching Portfolios?
Some guides to the teaching philosophy statement:
How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy
Writing Your Teaching Philosophy (Self-Paced Tutorial)
Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement (with examples)
The Dreaded Teaching Statement: Eight Pitfalls
Some guides to creating a portfolio:
Developing a Teaching Portfolio: A Necessityfor the Academic Job Search
The Teaching Portfolio: a Handbook for Faculty, Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows
Preparing a Teaching Portfolio
Some sample portfolios:
If you would like to meet with someone to discuss your statement of teaching philosophy or your teaching portfolio, please submit a consultation request.