Promotion and Tenure: Teaching Portfolios
The Centre for Teaching and Learning assists faculty in gathering artifacts for the Promotion and Tenure process by offering assistance in developing teaching portfolios. Specific information on Promotion and Tenure can be found on the UBC HR website.
The UBC Okanagan Teaching Evaluation Committee recommends that UBC Okanagan faculty create and keep a Teaching Dossier/Portfolio up to date. This will outline, for example, the instructor’s teaching philosophy and methods, course outlines and innovations, participation in teaching workshops and team teaching, pedagogical publications or conference presentations, students’ achievements and their letters of appreciation, evidence of effective undergrad and grad research thesis supervision, etc.
A teaching dossier or portfolio is a factual description of an instructor’s teaching achievements and contains documentation that collectively suggests the scope and quality of his or her teaching. Faculty can be asked to address issues identified as “best practices” in UBC Okanagan’s Academic Plan. Dossiers can be used to present evidence about teaching quality for evaluative purposes such as Tenure & Promotion submissions, teaching award nominations, etc., as they can provide a useful context for analyzing other forms of teaching evaluation. Alternatively, dossiers can provide the framework for a systematic program of reflective analysis and peer collaboration leading to improvement of teaching and student learning. This guide has been developed to help you systematically gather selected information and materials in support of teaching activities as you experience them. Self-analysis and reflection are the keys here, and the outcomes of that analysis are twofold: you make a strong case to others about your teaching competency, and you help yourself to understand and improve your approaches to teaching and learning.
Some form of the Teaching Dossier (or Teaching Portfolio, as it is called in the US and UK) is either required or strongly encouraged in a large number of universities for both reflection and assessment, and the numbers are growing. There is some evidence to support the claim that individuals using the Dossier demonstrate improvement in levels of teaching and learning (Seldin and Associates, 1993).
A. Approach to Teaching
2. Teaching Goals & Strategies
3. Relationship to UBC Okanagan’s Academic Plan
B. Teaching Activities
1. Teaching Responsibilities
2. Supervising and Advising Students
3. Activities Engaged in to Improve Teaching and Learning
4. Committee Service (Teaching and Learning Issues)
5. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
(publications & professional contributions)
C. Evidence of Student Learning
D. Teaching Reflections
The primary document should be from five to eight pages in length, which includes the philosophy of teaching statement, summary of teaching activities, and evidence of teaching effectiveness. If you are using the teaching portfolio for the purpose of promotion and tenure, the brevity of the primary document allows for its passage through the system from Department, to Dean, to Senior Appointments Committee, where relevant. It is in your interest to insert subheadings from your teaching portfolio into MyCV so that evidence of your teaching activities and accomplishments go forward to the Dean and to the Senior Appointments Committee.
You will want to feature:
- How you effectively facilitate student learning and work to achieve the desired student outcomes (Good teaching)
- How you practice scholarly teaching, that is “good teaching that is reflective and evidence-based; maintaining “pedagogical content knowledge”
- Your involvement in the systematic study of teaching and learning processes, and the sharing and review of such work (the scholarship of teaching and learning)
Before you begin, remember:
- Understand the context. Consult with your peers, department head and promotion/tenure committee to determine the type of portfolio that suits your unit’s needs. It pays to familiarize yourself with University and Faculty mission statements and the Academic Plan – your teaching may exemplify aspects of that mission.
- Know which teaching criteria your department and faculty use to assess instruction.
Prior to beginning the data collection process, think about the areas that you wish to highlight in your teaching practices.
- Think about the content you will include in your portfolio how your portfolio will be organized. Each area that you choose to highlight will require supportive documentation. For example, you may wish to show evidence of improving student knowledge and skills acquisition, or of moving away from instructorcentered and towards student-centered teaching.
- Assume nothing. Begin now to collect any information pertaining to teaching, and err on the side of documenting and saving too much, since you will need to base your case on evidence. You can, and should, discard some of the material later. For example, retain copies of all items referred to in this guide, including exemplary course outlines and learning objectives, innovative assignments, samples of student projects, and more. Check your updates annually, just as you do for your curriculum vitae.
- Brevity is the key. Five to eight pages tell the story of your teaching, supported by additional documentation and information as detailed in this document.
- Don’t write the introduction too soon! The introduction to a portfolio is extremely important. There is no second chance to make a good first impression. You can only write a really good introduction when you know exactly what you’re introducing, so leave the introduction until you’ve more or less finished everything else in your portfolio. You can, of course, write a draft introduction, but this is probably best as a bullet-point list, or a mind-map sketch
Barrett, H. (2000). Electronic teaching portfolios: Multimedia skills + portfolio development = powerful professional development. In B. Cambridge (Ed.), Electronic Portfolios (pp. 110-116). Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education.
Chism, N.V.N. (1998). Developing a philosophy of teaching statement. Toward the Best in the Academy: Essays on Teaching Excellence, 9 (3). Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.
O’Neil, C., & Wright, A. (1992). Recording teaching accomplishment: A Dalhousie guide to the teaching dossier. Halifax, NS: Dalhousie University, Office of Instructional Development and Technology.
Ross, D., Bondy, E., Hartle, L., Lamme, L., and Webb, R. (1995). Guidelines for Portfolio Preparation: implications from an analysis of teaching portfolios at the University of Florida. Innovative Higher Education, 20 (1), 45-62.
Seldin, Peter and Associates (1993) . Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios. Anker Publishing, Bolton, MA.
Seldin, P. (2004) The Teaching Portfolio: A practical guide to improved performance and promotion/tenure decisions. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Co.
Shore, Bruce M., et al (revised 1986, reprinted 1991). The CAUT Guide to The Teaching Dossier. Its Preparation and Use. Canadian Association of University Teachers, Ottawa, Ontario.
Teaching Documentation Guide, (1993). Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning, York University, Toronto.
Teaching Dossier: A Guide, (1996). University Teaching Services, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.
Urbach, F. (1992). Developing a Teaching Portfolio. College Teaching 40 (2), 71-74.
Weeks, P. (1998). The Teaching Portfolio: a professional development tool. International Journal of Academic Development, 3(1), 70-74.
For more information and samples of the various parts, visit
Teaching Portfolio Components
To introduce the reader to your views about teaching, learning and students, it is important to begin the portfolio with statements about your goals and vision of teaching. You are charged with demonstrating to the reader your commitment to the practice of teaching. While this introduction is meant to reflect your talents, certain guidelines apply:
- Make the statement reflective and personal; for example: what skills and values do you bring to the instructional aspect of your job? What is your goal with respect to student learning? What qualities would you like to be remembered by as a teacher?
- The statement should be brief, from a few paragraphs to one or two pages, depending upon your situation
- Use a straightforward narrative (first-person) style
- Avoid technical language and use broadly-applicable language and concepts, since not everyone reading the document is an expert in your field
To assist you in writing your statement of teaching philosophy, refer to the following reflection questions:
Discipline and Classroom Approach
- Within your discipline, which area do you regard as your strongest? What are areas that need improvement?
- What is your greatest asset as a classroom teacher? Your greatest shortcoming?
- Which teaching approach works best for your discipline? Why?
- How do you change teaching methods and strategies to meet new classroom situations? (give a recent example)
- How would you describe the atmosphere in your classroom? How do you think your students would describe it?
- What is your primary goal with respect to your students? (Who are your students and what are their goals?)
Teaching Goals and Strategies
- How does your teaching help students to master concepts and promote understanding of theory and practice?
- How do your courses contribute to students’ achievements in their university program, and after their return to the community?
- How do you nurture intellects in a setting where grades can be the key student motivator to learning?
- How do you help students to learn aims and outcomes? (teaching methods)?
- What steps do you take to encourage higher level learning (such as synthesis, analysis, application, problem-solving, etc.)?
- What is active learning and how do you use it in the classroom and in assignments?
- How do you test the learning outcomes? (evaluation of learning)?
Questions about Teaching
- What is the one thing that you would most like to change about your teaching? What have you done about changing it?
- 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 would you like your students to remember about you as a teacher ten years from now?
Now that your philosophical scaffolding is firmly in place, you can build a case and provide evidence about your commitment to teaching.
- How do you choose or emphasize course content?
- How do you teach so that students master the knowledge, skills and new perspectives indicated in your course aims and intended learning outcomes?
- How do you evaluate student progress? What range of assessment methods do you use and why? How do you give feedback to your students on their assessment results? What are your classroom approaches?
- How have you used innovative practices in your teaching, and why?
- In which ways have you tried to improve instruction? What approaches worked or failed to work and why? How have you changed your approach over the years?
- How did you learn from this experience?
For the portfolio, you may wish to provide a brief summary of course types and any revisions, together with the rationale for change, the types of teaching that you do based on such issues as class sizes, times, course goals (for example, are you providing information, coaching, encouraging self-direction?)
- 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)
- 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.
- Number of students in each course. Describe your workload including, where appropriate, the number of teaching assistants assigned to assist you in the course and the nature of their involvement.
- Details of other teaching activities such as seminars, advising students, supervision of a teaching or research practicum
- Athletic coaching, field placement supervision, and coaching or studio teaching in the performing arts as well as your general availability to students
- Exemplify teaching practices, such as the design of an unusual course or assignment, ways that course aims were adapted to meet needs of students, ways that faculty member is accessible to students
- Coordination of multi-section, sequenced, or interrelated courses
- Teaching involvement outside your unit
Supervising and Advising Students
Here you will set the context for your supervisory duties, including graduate and undergraduate responsibilities, average supervision load for your department, and the normal nature and extent of your duties. List of supervisory activities:
- 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). Remember to detail your supervision load within the context of the average departmental load.
- Ph.D. thesis supervision (indicate whether supervisor or committee member)
- Masters thesis supervision (as above)
- Honours thesis supervision (as above)
- Supervision of graduate and undergraduate independent study or directed readings
- Advisement on program of study, courses, or career and professional advice undertaking of formal or informal student mentoring
- Supervision which has contributed to publications, exhibitions, performances and conference presentations by students
Activities to Improve Teaching and Learning
Professional development encompasses all steps taken to improve an instructor’s effectiveness. The means by which you seek to improve your teaching and students’ learning follow quite directly from your philosophy and teaching strategy statements. This is your opportunity to focus upon your efforts to improve the classroom climate, to trouble-shoot in problematic courses, to solicit feedback from students about these issues. Now is also the time to summarize your attendance in any teaching-related seminars, workshops or conferences, and to explain how you used new information in the classroom. List of activities engaged in to improve teaching and learning:
- Steps taken to assess and respond to general problems arising in a course, which may necessitate redesign or refocus of course content and/or teaching methods
- Results of student ratings or questionnaires designed by you to solicit assessments of your teaching effectiveness.
- You may also wish to indicate how often you request feedback from your students and what you do with the information.
- Description of efforts made to improve the classroom climate or your teaching methods. You may wish to consider items such as steps taken to ensure free and open participation and the comfort of all learners regardless of gender, ethnic origin, class, age, sexual orientation or ability.
- Seminars, Instructional Skills Workshops, and conferences on teaching and learning approaches and techniques (internal and external) attended
Committee Service (Teaching and Learning Issues)
Many activities do not take place in classrooms but do provide important support for teaching. Some of these departmental, faculty and University-wide activities which contribute to strengthening teaching are described below. You may also be engaged, at the departmental level, in course and curricular revision, or in the development of new programs. You may wish to include a letter describing your committee work, written by a senior member of the curriculum committee. List of committee service that pertains to teaching and learning issues: (Include details such as names of committees, dates, and the nature of your contribution here.)
- All activities concerned with teaching that you have undertaken as a member of a faculty, department, or cross-disciplinary committee, subcommittee, ad hoc committee, or task force. If relevant, consider membership in the Senate, Board of Governors, library committees, teaching and scholarship committees, Advisory Boards, Presidential or Vice-presidential committees on teaching, learning technologies, teaching awards committees (faculty awards, university awards, special awards e.g. TA teaching) and other committees working on academic policy, curriculum, review, planning and implementation as they pertain to teaching activity.
- Teaching assistant professional training, orientation, or development
- Attendance at professional training, orientation, or development sessions for faculty, such as orientation sessions for new faculty, and sessions that introduce or raise consciousness about teaching techniques or learning technologies
- Involvement in departmental or faculty-based mentoring or teaching support programs. This may include providing consultation or review to instructors in other units in improving teaching effectiveness
- Involvement in establishing, adjudicating, or administering awards or honours recognizing and celebrating student achievement
- Observing others teaching as part of formal or informal evaluation and feedback regarding teaching effectiveness
- Serving on accreditation committees, curriculum planning/review committees, task forces, program revision committees
- Organization of retreats and strategic planning sessions (as they relate to teaching)
- Development of department teaching resources such as computer instruction projects, a teaching materials resource centre, a reference map collection, a visiting scholar program
- Use of your teaching materials by instructors in other departments, faculties, colleges or universities
- Development of widely-used student ratings of instruction or other assessment instruments
Publications and Professional Contributions
Other activities taking place outside the classroom context include publications (such as curriculum materials or workbooks and conference papers that relate to teaching or student learning). You will also wish to discuss and provide supportive documentation about any involvement you have had developing and teaching seminars or workshops. List of publications and professional work that contributes to teaching and learning:
- Workshops and seminars about teaching that you designed and instructed
- Curriculum materials – details of published and unpublished curriculum materials, textbooks, workbooks, case studies, class notes, lab manuals, and other classroom materials which you have developed
- Research and professional contributions related to teaching – books (including chapters in books, edited books, and special issues of journals); articles (indicate whether refereed, solicited, or non-refereed); papers in conference proceedings (indicate whether refereed or non-refereed); bibliographies; newsletters; unpublished conference papers
- Funding related to teaching – internal and external teaching development grants, fellowships
Assessing and Reflecting Upon Teaching
Assessing and reflecting on your teaching contributes to your effectiveness as a teacher. You may wish to include the ways that you monitor and evaluate your own teaching and reflect on what the evidence gathered tells you about your teaching.
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. Note: before peer observations are undertaken, your department should be clear about the teaching aims and student learning outcomes that apply to your undergraduate or graduate program.
- Teaching awards received by you including departmental, faculty, and UBC Okanagan awards, and external awards (professional association, national and international teaching awards). Nominations for awards also indicate your reputation as a teacher
- Unsolicited and solicited letters from students (initiated by the unit)
- Student-initiated feedback
When appropriate, discuss any objective indicators of student progress (such as students’ standing on a nation-wide examination), or of teaching which has contributed to honours, awards or employment for students. In doing so, you may wish to describe the various types of learning which took place, such as knowledge, concepts, abilities, performance, skills, or new perspectives.
Types of evidence of student learning
- Objective indicators of student progress, where available (proficiency tests, students’ standings on nation-wide tests, etc.)
- Feedback from supervisors or employers of graduates
You may wish to make some concluding remarks that tie together the philosophy, approaches, evidence and evaluative sections. At this point it is also prudent to detail a plan for future actions, including your motivation and challenges, as well as short and long-term teaching goals. These remarks belong in the body of the Portfolio.