We begin with an overview of what a teaching portfolio is and why instructors need to prepare one. Then we focus on detail of structure and components of teaching portfolios at McMaster University as outlined by SPS B2 . Throughout, we will share helpful considerations and resources to enable you to develop or refine your teaching portfolio.
In this workshop, we will:
- Describe the purpose of a teaching portfolio
- Review SPS B2, which outlines McMaster’s teaching portfolio requirements
- Explore the components of a SPS B2 compliant teaching portfolio
- Share tips and resources to develop and refine your teaching portfolio
As you work on your teaching portfolio at McMaster, it is recommend that instructors review the Preparing a Teaching Portfolio Guidebook by the MacPherson Institute alongside this workshop. The Preparing a Teaching Portfolio Guidebook serves as a companion to McMaster’s Supplementary Policy Statement B2: Teaching Portfolios. This workshop is a condensed version of the guidebook which contains further information, as well as helpful appendixes, designed to assist with the writing and refinement of teaching portfolios.
What Is A Teaching Portfolio?
A teaching portfolio is a statement of your beliefs about teaching, learning, and students, supported by a record of your teaching methods, impacts and goals. It is intended to represent you and your work to potential reviewers, documenting your experiences and strengths as an instructor by presenting facts, evidence, and self-reflection. It specifically focuses on curating the best evidence of your teaching, unlike a resume or curriculum vitae (CV), which provides a holistic summary of all of your qualifications, experiences, accomplishments, and contributions as a professional.
Why Do I Need A Teaching Portfolio?
Teaching portfolios can be used for summative or formative purposes ranging from promotion and awards to reflection and continuous improvement. As such, there are a variety of reasons why instructors will require a teaching portfolio throughout their career including:
- Applying for teaching-track or tenure-track positions
- Applying for promotion, permanence, or tenure
- Applying for a teaching award
Teaching portfolios also help instructors develop and improve their teaching by documenting and reflecting on activities, goals, and achievements on a summative or formative basis.
McMaster instructors are expected to showcase their personal achievements and unique contributions to teaching and learning through the teaching portfolio, a required part of McMaster’s tenure, permanence, and promotion processes. Keeping an up-to-date teaching portfolio is also beneficial to McMaster instructors to share in the context of annual performance reviews within their Departments and with their Department Chairs.
What is McMaster’s SPS B2?
As outlined in the Preparing a Teaching Portfolio Guidebook:
“Like many institutions, McMaster has specific requirements for teaching portfolios that are used for tenure, permanence, and promotion. These processes are detailed in their entirety in the policy McMaster University Revised Policy and Regulations With Respect To Academic Appointment, Tenure And Promotion, also referred to colloquially as the “yellow document” (as it used to be printed on yellow paper). Teaching portfolios are mentioned therein (see Section III, Parts 5 through 10), with more complete details regarding the requirements of a McMaster teaching portfolio outlined in” McMaster’s Supplementary Policy Statement B2: Teaching Portfolios (SPS B2) (pg. 4).
It is recommended that candidates review the SPS B2 with their Department Chair and ensure that plans for their teaching portfolio are tailored both to the SPS B2 requirements as well as departmental preferences, expectations, and cultural norms.
McMaster’s SPS B2 contains two major structural sections required for teaching portfolios:
- Part A: Executive Summary
- Part B: Supporting Documentation
Next, we will break down these two major structural sections, and share information, advice, and activities that will clarify and assist with the development of your teaching portfolio.
Before delving into the sections of a McMaster Portfolio, note that though it’s not explicitly stated in SPS B2, ensure your portfolio has a title page and a table of contents, and start each section of your portfolio on a new page. After that, there are two major Parts to your Portfolio: Part A, Executive Summary, and Part B, Supporting Documentation.
An Executive Summary can be considered the core of your McMaster teaching portfolio. It is broken down into five distinct parts as outlined below:
- Description of Teaching Responsibilities and Experiences (1 page max)
- Description of Teaching Philosophy (appx. 1 page)
- Description of Teaching Practice (1-2 pages)
- Contributions to Teaching (1 page)
- Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness
Part A is intended to be an ‘executive summary’ of a potentially larger portfolio with length limits for sections noted in brackets above.
Please watch the following instructional video that explains each of the five distinct sections of an Executive Summary.
Part B: Supporting Documentation is the collection of evidentiary appendices to support the core of your portfolio (i.e. Part A: Executive Summary). As outlined by SPS B2, Part B “is optional and may contain additional material compiled by the faculty member in support of Part A.”
However, you will strengthen your portfolio if you are able to provide thoughtfully-selected artifacts and evidence that underscore the narrative you have told about your teaching in Part A. Additionally, whatever evidence or examples you choose to present in Part B should be referenced somewhere within Part A for proper alignment.
The following instructional video explains Part B of an SPS B2-compliant teaching portfolio in detail.
Knowing the purpose and technical requirements of a teaching portfolio does not always translate into feeling confident about how to get started with writing and assembling your own.
It is important to know that no two teaching portfolios look the same. Even with shared requirements, each McMaster teaching portfolio is as unique as the instructor writing it. In general, however, there are some helpful tips for getting started on a teaching portfolio that can make the task of its writing and assembly less daunting as you move ahead.
- Check in with your Chair and colleagues to glean local culture and requirements relevant to your teaching portfolio
- Review SPS B2
- Review the Preparing a Teaching Portfolio Guidebook by the MacPherson Institute
- Ask colleagues in your Department or Faculty to see their portfolios for examples
As you begin to develop your teaching portfolio, it can be helpful to reflect on various levels of context that may inform or inspire your teaching including:
At the Faculty and/or Departmental Level:
- Consider how teaching and learning is prioritized or articulated within the culture and strategic priorities of your Faculty and/or Department. It is also important to take stock of disciplinary norms or expectations that have a direct effect and influence on your perspectives, practices, and pedagogical approaches, as they may be unique when compared to other Faculty/Departmental cultures and/or disciplinary norms.
At an Institutional Level:
- Consider and familiarize yourself with current institutional strategies for teaching and learning at McMaster University and the ways your teaching aligns with institutional policies and priorities. The Preparing a Teaching Portfolio Guidebook offers a list of resources on strategic priorities for teaching and learning at McMaster on pg. 11.
At a National or International Level:
- It may be that defining a context for your teaching spans national or international boundaries by engaging with specific areas of educational research and/or the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). If so, explain within your teaching portfolio how your teaching is founded and informed by active engagements in educational research and/or trends and innovations from Scholarship of Teaching and Learning more broadly.
While a teaching portfolio is informed primarily through the values, principles, and beliefs articulated by an instructor, in addition to the institutional strategies and priorities noted above, McMaster also offers an institutional definition of “teaching” activities as well. McMaster’s University Revised Policy And Regulations With Respect To Academic Appointment, Tenure And Promotion explains that:
“Teaching encompasses the selection and arrangement of course topics and materials, lecturing, leading class and seminar discussions, assisting students during office hours, laboratory and studio teaching, marking of student submissions (especially when editorial comments are given to the student), the setting of examinations that permit accurate assessment and continue the learning process, and the supervision of student research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Teaching-stream faculty are not normally expected to be involved in graduate courses or supervision, although it will sometimes be possible (as, for example, in the MBA Program).”
Keep this institutional definition of teaching activities in mind as you begin to think about what supporting evidence and examples you will want to collect and showcase within your teaching portfolio.
Often, the most persuasive forms of evidence come from the perspective of others who can attest to the impact, innovation, and effectiveness of your teaching, be it, students, staff, colleagues or peers. Consider including a variety of evidence within your teaching portfolio including, but not limited to:
- References from colleagues and former students
- Mid-semester formative feedback solicited from students to improve teaching and learning
- Records of participation in teaching-related professional development activities
- Invited peer reviews of your teaching
For additional guidance on what types of evidence you may wish to gather or showcase in your teaching portfolio, please see the “A Guide for Providing Evidence of Teaching” developed by the University of Calgary Taylor Institute by Kenney et al. Keep in mind that any specifications in SPS B2 (for example, don’t include student comments from end-of-term course evaluations) beat any external advice you may come across when crafting a portfolio specifically for McMaster tenure, permanence, and promotion.
Now that you’ve identified and started collecting your teaching evidence, reflect on the totality of what this evidence represents about your personal teaching philosophy, practices, and contributions.
Begin by writing or revising your Teaching Philosophy Statement to reflect your core personal beliefs or values, methods, impacts, and goals as a teacher. The values and beliefs articulated in your teaching philosophy statement will serve as a cornerstone in the teaching portfolio. Next, describe how you have put these beliefs or values into practice within the Description of Teaching Practice section. Continue to outline your Contributions to Teaching, for example, course design, publications and research on teaching and learning, presentations on teaching and learning, professional development, educational leadership, reports on issues pertaining to teaching and learning. Finally, make note of which evidence should be included in Part B: Supporting Documentation to best support these claims.
When brought together, Parts A and B craft your argument and interpretation of what the evidence in your appendices means about your effectiveness as an educator.
Once all of the parts and components of your teaching portfolio are drafted, review, revise, and align your portfolio as a whole coherent document. Good teaching portfolios are well-organized and aligned. Each section in the portfolio should be organized by headings and/or subheadings and written to build on the values, examples, and evidence of your development and achievements. Overstated by this point, the portfolio should also align with the SPS B2 criteria and any criteria specified by your Department Chair. During these final stages of portfolio refinement, it is advisable to create a title page and table of contents prior to submission.
Teaching portfolios are best thought of as living documents that should be updated annually alongside your resume or CV, ideally in advance of your annual review. It may be tempting to file your teaching portfolio away in the proverbial desk drawer, but returning to it once a year to update your portfolio with notable achievements, self-reflections, and forms of evidence demonstrating your effectiveness and evolution as an instructor is a beneficial archive for future reviews, promotion or tenure purposes, teaching award applications, as well as documenting your formative or summative growth as an educator.
Are you stuck in your teaching portfolio journey? Needing help or further advice? Please feel welcome to reach out to the MacPherson Institute for additional support by completing a “Request Support” form. We can help advise on teaching portfolio components, offer consultations, course refinements, peer observations of teaching, and other workshops relevant for teaching portfolio development.
Preparing a Teaching Portfolio Guidebook: A Companion to McMaster’s Supplementary Policy Statement B2: Teaching Portfolios. MacPherson Institute – McMaster University. Located on: https://mi.mcmaster.ca/resources/
Natasha Kenny, Carol Berenson, Scott Radford, Nickie Nikolaou, Wendy Benoit, Robin Mueller, Robyn Paul, & Ellen Perrault (2018) Guide for Providing Evidence of Teaching. Taylor Institute – University of Calgary. https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/resources/guide-to-providing-evidence-of-teaching
Dieter J. Schönwetter, Laura Sokal, Marcia Friesen & K. Lynn Taylor (2002): Teaching philosophies reconsidered: A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements. International Journal for Academic Development, 7:1, 83-97. Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13601440210156501