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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

September 9, 2005

Teaching portfolios

Save now, sort later

by Linda Charles

New faculty are busy. No sooner are they on campus than they must set up their offices and labs, apply for grants, start their research, develop class lessons for courses they've never taught, meet their colleagues, find a mentor, and oh yes, start to document everything for the promotion and tenure process.

One of the items most faculty include in this documentation is a teaching portfolio. A portfolio is a good way to document those teaching efforts that will come up during the promotion and tenure process. And the sooner you start your portfolio, the better.

Corly Brooke, director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, says faculty often will remark that they wished they had saved a syllabus or e-mail from a student to use during their promotion and tenure review.

Five suggestions

To get you started along the right path, Brooke offers five tips for building a solid teaching portfolio:

  1. Develop a clear statement and description of your actual teaching responsibilities, and keep it updated. Include both how you will reach your teaching goals and the impact of reaching those goals. The ISU promotion and tenure policy supports a broad view of scholarship that includes scholarship of teaching and learning. This may be an important part of your responsibility statement.
  2. Save almost everything. You can always present only part of what you save, but it's best to save as much as you can so you can pick and choose. Consider saving course syllabi, class records, documentation of faculty development related to teaching, pertinent e-mails, letters and e-mails from former or current students that indicate the effectiveness or impact of your teaching, and assessments.
  3. Develop and write a statement of your teaching philosophy that is grounded in learning theory or pedagogical theories and strategies. Your philosophy is apt to change over time, so update it as necessary. (Note: the current promotion and tenure policy requires this teaching statement.)
  4. Make a paper trail. Document as much as you can, including the courses you teach, number of students and types of courses you've taught. Remember to think "outside the box" when documenting teaching responsibilities. Mentoring a dissertation student or helping with graduate or undergraduate student work also is a form of teaching. Learning communities also fit into this category.
  5. Provide evidence on the effectiveness of your teaching by keeping updated information on:
    • "Summative" information (student survey ratings and evaluations) as well as "formative" assessments (for example, asking students to write one-minute papers at the end of class on what is helping them learn and what needs to change).
    • Peer evaluations of your teaching. Some departments have developed policies for this type of peer review; in other cases you may want to invite some colleagues to review your classes.
    • Awards and honors.
    • Publication in scholarly journals on your research on pedagogy, strategies, creative learning and assessment techniques.
    • Grants you've received in relation to your teaching or pedagogical research.
    • Samples of innovative tools, strategies or class assignments you've use.

Update as needed

Brooke noted that a teaching portfolio should be dynamic and change over time, so it is good to view it as a continuing process.

Center staff are available to help with teaching needs, she added. The center offers workshops, online information and individual consultations. For help, call the center at 4-5357 or visit

Another good place for information on promotion and tenure in general is the provost's Web site at (look under "For Faculty" and then "Faculty Advancement").


Five tips for building a solid teaching portfolio will help new faculty document those teaching efforts that will come up during the P&T process.