I was just looking over some notes from a seminar where I jotted down:
Goals for Portfolios
- Share best practices, learn, see examples
- Tenure, hiring
- Feedback, reflection on personal effectiveness
I can’t remember what the seminar was about – all I remember is that it had nothing to do with portfolios – but something from my day must have sparked me into thinking about teaching portfolios.
I was recently asked how I would respond to PhD students who are in the process of putting together their own teaching portfolios and are wondering, “Is it really worth the effort?”
Here are my thoughts:
1) Putting together your e-portfolio is a valuable chance for personal reflection. I found that the process of putting together my e-portfolio helped me to summarize and evaluate my own teaching skills and philosophy towards education. You can look at the experiences you’re documenting in your portfolio and see your own personal strengths and weaknesses. This kind of critical evaluation can be really valuable in job applications, interview scenarios AND for your own personal growth.
2) I’ve used my e-portfolio in at least two different job applications (required in the academic world). Having an e-portfolio at the ready made it a lot easier to apply for jobs quickly. Outside of academia, having an up-to-date e-portfolio helps you see your own personal strengths and weaknesses – and have lots of examples at the ready for interviews, cover letters etc. It’s like having an ubber resume at the ready.
3) An e-portfolio helps you get organized. I used to have a binder / really big pile of stuff that I wanted to put together into a teaching portfolio. Honestly, it was a big effort to get the e-portfolio started but I enjoyed the process. I like using wordpress and now that I’ve got it started updating is easy.
I was recently pointed to this article that makes a few interesting points. The article presents a case study of teaching portfolios developed by new instructors in the Geography department at Keele University in the UK. The first point is that developing an e-portfolio is a chance for critical reflection in an effort to become a better educator – a point, that from my own experiences, I can whole-heartedly agree with. The second point is that e-portfolios can be used as a tool to validate the teaching experience. In my opinion, e-portfolios are not the best way to convince academics that teaching their discipline is an experience “not to be undervalued”. As I reflect on this point, I find myself fortunate to work in an environment that values academic and teaching excellence.
The Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth at UBC (affectionately known as TAG) ran a teaching portfolio competition this summer. I entered the competition as a way to get myself motivated to work on this portfolio. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to get this message about being a finalist in the contest. The prize was a book from the bookstore – I chose Al Gore’s most recent publication, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
We wish to heartily congratulate the three finalists in the Teaching Portfolio Competition. They are (in alphabetical order): Shona Ellis, Instructor, Botany Department; Joanne Fox, UBC Bioinformatics Centre; and Beth Snow, Doctoral Student.
These individuals took on the portfolio-creation challenge, devoted many hours to this endeavour and, of course, submitted their portfolios for feedback. They have created portfolios that very nicely represent who they are as instructors and the work they do.
With permission of the portfolio owners (thank-you!), we invite you to view these portfolios:
Congratulations! We will be presenting them with their prizes shortly.