Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
About the Authors
About the Contributors
Chapter One - The Academic Portfolio Concept
What Is an Academic Portfolio?
Using the Portfolio
Personnel Decisions
Improve Performance
Other Purposes
Chapter Two - Choosing Items for the Academic Portfolio
Research and Scholarship
Integration of Professional Work and Goals
Electronic Portfolio
Chapter Three - Preparing the Portfolio
The Value of Self-Reflection
The Importance of Collaboration
Discussing Expectations
Gaining Acceptance of the Concept
Chapter Four - Suggestions for Improving the Portfolio
House the Portfolio in a Binder with Tabs for Appendixes
Include the Date of the Portfolio
Include a Detailed Table of Contents
Add a List of Appendix Items
Include Specific Information, Not Generalities
Explain the Evidence in the Portfolio
Enhance the Narrative Section
Cross-Reference the Narrative to the Appendix
Limit the Number of Student or Colleague Comments
Number the Pages in the Portfolio
Make Bulky Portfolio Items Available upon Request
Revise the Portfolio Each Year
Chapter Five - Evaluating the Portfolio for Personnel Decisions
Key Requirements
Establish Criteria
Checklist of Items for Evaluating Portfolios
Chapter Six - Answers to Common Questions
Is the Academic Portfolio Concept in Use Today?
Can an Impressive Portfolio Gloss Over Terrible Teaching, Research and ...
How Much Time Does It Take to Prepare a Portfolio?
How Long Is the Typical Academic Portfolio?
How Does the Academic Portfolio Differ from the Usual Faculty Report to ...
Why Do Portfolio Models and Mentors Need to Be Available to Professors as They ...
Can a Portfolio Be Prepared by a Professor Working Alone?
Must the Mentor Be from the Same Discipline as the Professor Who Is Preparing ...
Because the Role of the Mentor Is So Crucial, How Are Mentors Recruited?
Who Owns the Portfolio?
Should Administrators Develop the Portfolio Program and Then Tell Faculty to ...
The Portfolio Concept Is Undoubtedly Useful for Junior Faculty, But Why Would ...
Are the Time and Energy Required to Prepare a Portfolio Really Worth the Benefits?
What Guidelines Would You Suggest for Getting Started with Portfolios?
Chapter Seven - Sample Portfolios from Across Disciplines
Biomedical Engineering
Introduction to the Portfolio
Research and Scholarship
Administration and Service
Bioscience and Biotechnology
Teaching Responsibilities and Teaching Philosophy
Academic Research Program
Research Funding History
Department/Institutional Committees
Mentoring Activities
Contribution from Teaching, Research, and Service to My Professional Growth and Development
Three Significant Professional Accomplishments
Three Professional Goals That I Want to Accomplish
Child and Family Studies
Research and Scholarship
Integration of Professional Work and Goals
Integration of Professional Activities
Portfolio Preface and Rationale
Reflections on Responsibilities
Philosophy of Professional Engagement: Integrating Teaching, Scholarship, Service
Integration: Teaching, Scholarship, Service, and Leadership as Professional Nexus
Professional Accomplishments
Professional Goals
Environmental Engineering
Teaching Responsibilities
Teaching Philosophy and Methodologies
External Funding
Department/Institution Committee Service
Administrative/Managerial Responsibilities
Mentoring Activities
Contribution of Teaching, Research, and Service
Contribution of Administrative, Managerial, and Mentoring Activities
Selected Professional Accomplishments
Professional Goals
List of Documents in Appendixes
Foreign Languages and Literature
Integrative Prologue
Integrative Epilogue
Geology and Environmental Science
Integration of Professional Work
Jazz and Contemporary Music
Integration of Professional Work/Goals
Professional Accomplishments
Mathematical Sciences
Research and Scholarship
Integration of Professional Work and Goals
Nutritional Sciences
Research and Scholarship
Integration of Professional Work and Goals
Pastoral Counseling
Purpose of Academic Professional Portfolio
Teaching Responsibilities
Teaching Philosophy, Objectives, and Methodologies
Curricular Revisions
Course Syllabi
Teaching Improvement Activities
Student Course Evaluations
Colleague Statements
Nature of Research
Books and Publications
Conference Presentations
Service: Administrative Activities and Committees
Teaching, Research, and Service Contributions to Professional Growth and Development
Three Professional Accomplishments
Professional Goals
Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Integration of Professional Work and Goals
Political Science
I. Teaching
II. Research/Scholarship
III. Service
IV. Professional Growth/Development
Political Science
Teaching Statement
Statement of Teaching Methods and Strategies
Research Statement
Integration of Professional Activities
The Future
Product Design
Executive Summary
University Service
Integration of Professional Work and Goals
Directorship of the Student Counseling Center
Research and Scholarship
Integration of Professional Work/Goals


The Jossey-Bass
Higher and Adult Education Series

An important change is taking place in higher education: faculty are being held accountable—as never before—for how well they do their jobs. Current interest in appraising faculty performance grows out of the demand by government, the general public, and accrediting agencies for more accountability.
Reflective and deep information on teaching, research and scholarship, and service—and how those three legs of academic work fit together—has been skimpy at best. The result has been that the general and routine approach to evaluating faculty performance has often relied on student ratings, a testimonial letter or two, and lists of publications, presentations, and college or university committees on which the faculty member served.
The focus has been on the “what,” not the “why” or the “how.” Thoughtful reflection and context were not built into the evaluation system. And neither was an explanation of the significance of the professor’s work, an especially important omission when promotion and tenure committee members are not in the same discipline as the professor and have difficulty understanding the nature of the professor’s research and scholarship and its value.
Unless the faculty member developed a teaching portfolio, little or no attention was paid to this person’s teaching philosophy and methodology. But even if he or she did develop a teaching portfolio, it focused on only one leg of the three-legged stool of faculty work. Nothing was said about the nature of the professor’s research and scholarship, the significance of selected publications, the context of his or her work, his or her most noteworthy accomplishments, and role on institutional committees. And nothing was said about the integration of the three legs of faculty work or about how one leg informs the others.
The best way the writers know to get at the individuality and complexity of faculty work is the academic portfolio, a careful gathering of documents and material highlighting the professor’s performance and suggesting its scope and quality. Importantly, it is based on depthful reflection and provides the “why” and the “how,” not just the “what.” It can be used to present the hard evidence on teaching, research and scholarship, and service effectiveness. It is flexible enough to be used for personnel decisions and provide the stimulus and structure for self-reflection about areas of faculty performance in need of improvement.
The academic portfolio concept has gone well beyond the point of theoretical possibility. Today it is being adopted or pilot-tested in various forms by an increasing number of institutions. Among the current users or experimenters with portfolios are Jackson State (Mississippi), Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Drexel University (Pennsylvania), the New School (New York), and Loyola College in Maryland. Significantly, among the users or experimenters with portfolios today are institutions of every size, shape, and mission.
This book focuses squarely on academic portfolios, which may prove to be the most innovative and promising faculty evaluation and development technique in years. It identifies key issues, red-flag warnings, and benchmarks for success. It describes the what, why, and how to develop academic portfolios and includes an extensively tested, step-by-step approach to create a portfolio. It lists twenty-one possible portfolio items covering teaching, research and scholarship, and service from which faculty choose the ones personally most relevant.
The portfolio template included in this book is the result of extensive research. More than two hundred faculty members and department chairs from across disciplines and institutions (large and small, public and private) provided suggestions and recommendations as to its content. The result is a comprehensive portfolio template that can easily be adapted to individual faculty and department needs. The motto, “Adapt, rather than adopt,” applies here.
The thrust of this book is unique:
• It provides time-tested strategies and proven advice for getting started with portfolios.
• It outlines key issues, red-flag dangers, and benchmarks for success.
• It discusses the portfolio as a way of documenting faculty performance.
• It includes specific guiding questions to consider as prompts when preparing every section of the portfolio.
• It spells out important points to consider in evaluating portfolios.
• It offers eighteen model academic portfolios from across disciplines and institutions, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to research universities. For balance, the portfolio contributors are at different points in their career trajectories.
In short, The Academic Portfolio offers colleges and university administrators and faculty the kind of research-based, ready-to-use information required to foster the most effective use of portfolios.
It is written for faculty members, department chairs, deans, and members of promotion and tenure committees. They are the essential partners in developing successful academic portfolio programs. Graduate students, especially those planning careers as faculty members, will find the book useful. The language used is straightforward and nontechnical.
Chapter One discusses the academic portfolio concept; how it includes the scope, quality, context, and significance of a professor’s achievements; why the content depends on the purpose for which it is to be used; how it is based on structured reflection, thoughtfully selected information on teaching, research and scholarship, and service activities that portray an appropriate balance of professional activities; and that it provides solid evidence of their effectiveness.
Chapter Two describes the many possibilities from which the faculty member can select portfolio items relevant to his or her academic situation, discusses the factors to consider in choosing items, outlines the five main categories of the narrative (the preface, independent sections on teaching, research and scholarship, and service, and a section on integrating professional work and goals), provides suggestions as to the length of each category, presents a detailed table of contents, and includes nearly one hundred prompt questions to guide the preparation of each part of the portfolio.
Chapter Three examines in important detail the four cornerstones of successful academic portfolio programs: the value of self-reflection, the importance of collaboration, the vital need to discuss expectations, and how to gain acceptance of the concept.
It offers practical advice and takes a hard look at what works and what does not.
Chapter Four presents a list of specific helpful suggestions to faculty members who prepare their portfolios. Among others, the detailed recommendations include housing the portfolio in a binder with tabs; including specific information, not generalities; explaining the evidence; enhancing the narrative section; limiting the number of student and faculty colleague comments; and revising the portfolio every year.
Chapter Five spells out how to evaluate academic portfolios for personnel decisions, what should be evaluated, and how it should be done; discusses the key requirements of acceptability, practicality, and relevance; and outlines the crucial differences between strong and weak portfolios. It also provides practical advice: a nineteen-point suggested checklist of items for evaluating academic portfolios that emerged from discussions with more than 150 members of personnel committees at different colleges and universities.
Chapter Six offers pragmatic answers to many questions commonly raised about developing and using academic portfolios. Here are guidelines for getting started and a discussion on how portfolios differ from the usual faculty report to administrators. It also addresses how much time it takes to develop a portfolio, why portfolio models and mentors are so important, and why an elegant portfolio cannot disguise weak performance in teaching, research and scholarship, or service.
Chapter Seven contains the actual academic portfolios of eighteen professors from different disciplines and institutions.
Pleasantville, New York
October 2008
DeKalb, Illinois
October 2008

We applaud the professors who contributed their portfolios to this book for their professionalism and good-humored acceptance of deadlines and rewrites. Working with them has truly been our pleasure.

About the Authors
Peter Seldin is Distinguished Professor of Management Emeritus at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. Formerly an academic dean, department chair, and professor of management, he is a specialist in the evaluation and development of faculty and administrative performance and has been a consultant on higher education issues to more than 350 colleges and universities throughout the United States and in forty-five countries around the world.
A well-known speaker at national and international conferences, Seldin has presented programs at more than thirty American Council on Education national workshops for division and department chairs and deans specifically designed to enhance departmental leadership.
His well-received books include:
Evaluating Faculty Performance, with associates (Anker, 2006)
The Teaching Portfolio, third edition (Anker, 2004)
The Administrative Portfolio, with Mary Lou Higgerson (Anker, 2002)
Changing Practices in Evaluating Teaching, with associates (Anker, 1999)
The Teaching Portfolio, second edition (Anker, 1997)
Improving College Teaching, with associates (Anker, 1995)
Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios, with associates (Anker, 1993)
The Teaching Portfolio (Anker, 1991)
How Administrators Can Improve Teaching, with associates (Jossey-Bass, 1990)
Evaluating and Developing Administrative Performance (Jossey-Bass, 1988)
Coping with Faculty Stress, with associates (Jossey-Bass, 1987)
Changing Practices in Faculty Evaluation (Jossey-Bass, 1984)
Successful Faculty Evaluation Programs (Coventry Press, 1980)
Teaching Professors to Teach (Blythe-Pennington, 1977)
How Colleges Evaluate Professors (Blythe-Pennington, 1975)
He has contributed numerous articles on the teaching profession, student ratings, educational practice, and academic culture to such publications as the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Change magazine. Among recent honors, he was named by the World Bank as a visiting scholar to Indonesia. In addition, he was elected a fellow of the College of Preceptors in London, England. This special honor is given to a small number of faculty and administrators who are judged to have made an “outstanding contribution to higher education on the international level.” For his contributions to the scholarship of teaching, he has received honorary degrees from Keystone College (Pennsylvania) and Columbia College (South Carolina).
J. Elizabeth Miller is associate professor of family and child studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. She has taught graduate courses in research methods, family and child studies, and adolescent development and undergraduate courses in family theories, marriage and family, and life span human development. Three times she has been honored with excellence in teaching awards.
Previously she was the founding director of the Teaching Assistant and Training Development Office, which provided extensive training to more than eight hundred teaching assistants. Many of those who received such training are now faculty members at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in numerous other countries around the world. Miller is the outgoing chair of the Women’s Caucus of the American Association for Higher Education and has served on the board of the National Council of Family Relations. A presenter at numerous national and international conferences, her research interests focus on the interplay between feminist teaching and learner-centered instruction, as well as the improvement of college teaching. She has extensive experience mentoring faculty members and graduate students at her institution and others as they prepare their teaching portfolios.
She is the author of the well-received Exploring Family Theories (2003, with associates) and has published journal articles in family theory, work and family in higher education, religion and family, and mentoring graduate students.

About the Contributors
Shivanthi Anandan is associate professor of bioscience and biotechnology at Drexel University. She serves as chair of the undergraduate program committee in that department and is an in-house mentor to other Drexel University faculty in the preparation of their teaching portfolios. Her teaching and research interests are in biotechnology, microbiology, and genetics.
Carrie Liu Currier is assistant professor of political science and director of Asian studies at Texas Christian University. Her research focuses primarily on the effects of economic reform on women in China. In addition, she has conducted research on population policy in China, women and the sex industry in Southeast Asia, and China’s strategic relationship with Iran.
Pamela A. Geller is associate professor of psychology, Ob/Gyn, and public health and director of the student counseling center at Drexel University. She teaches courses in counseling at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her research focuses largely on women’s health issues, including the mental health consequences of pregnancy loss.
Charles N. Haas is the L. D. Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering and head of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. He is a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Risk Analysis, and the American Academy of Microbiology. His research focuses on the assessment and control of human exposure to pathogenic microorganisms, and in particular the treatment of water and wastewater to minimize microbial risk to human health.
Gina Jarman Hill is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Christian University and a registered and licensed dietitian who has been actively involved in local, state, and national professional organizations. Her current research interests include lactation, medical nutrition therapy, dietary supplementation, and the relationship between nutrition and behavior.
Robert Kirkbride is associate professor of product design at Parsons The New School for Design, New York, and director of the architectural design firm studio ’patafisico. His work has been exhibited and published widely. He has been a visiting scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture and architect-in-residence at the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, Italy. His research on architecture and memory received the Gutenberg-e Prize from the American Historical Association and will be soon published by Columbia University Press.
Sheri Spaine Long is associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her teaching and research interests are Spanish language and culture and literature, with a special focus on Madrid in literature. She serves as editor of Foreign Language Annals and is the coauthor of Nexos: Introductory Spanish (2005) and Pueblos Intermediate Spanish in Cultural Contexts (2007).
Robert M. Maninger is assistant professor of education at Texas Christian University. He teaches a technology applications course for preservice teachers and a variety of other courses for preservice teachers and administrators. His research focuses on the use of technology in higher education, specifically its effectiveness in teacher preparation.
Kelly Murray is assistant professor of pastoral counseling and director of Ph.D. clinical education at Loyola College in Maryland. Her research interests focus on women and personality styles in relation to success, and health and psychological states during war. Her clinical work focuses on women’s health, trauma, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders.
Ranjan S. Muttiah is an assistant professor in the Department of Geology at Texas Christian University, where he runs the Center for Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing. He teaches courses in environmental science and geographic information systems. His research focuses on the use of computer models to solve water resource problems, and he has received grants and published several papers in this area.
Lisa A. Oberbroeckling is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Loyola College in Maryland. She teaches classes primarily in calculus and analysis. Her research is in theoretical mathematics, specifically operator theory, which is a subfield of functional analysis.
Clement A. Seldin is a professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has received many teaching awards including the university’s highest faculty honor, the Distinguished Teaching Award. He has contributed numerous articles to such publications as Educational Research Quarterly, Phi Delta Kappan, and Urban Education, and served on research teams for The Schools of Education Project, a study of the nation’s twelve hundred schools of education.
Marlene K. Sokolon is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Her research specialization includes ancient political philosophy, the philosophy of emotions, and the role of poetry and literature as pedagogy. She is the author of Political Emotions: Aristotle and the Symphony of Reason and Emotion (2006).
Annalise Sorrentino, MD, is assistant professor of pediatric medicine in the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her research focus has been on medical education and faculty development in medical schools. She is the national faculty representative for the American Heart Association’s Pediatric Advanced Life Support program, as well as the medical director for the classes held at UAB Medical School. She serves as editor of The Polhill Report: Dedicated to Lifelong Learning, a quarterly pediatric newsletter that reviews medical research.
Lynda Henley Walters is a professor in the Department of Child and Family Development at the University of Georgia. Her teaching and research interests include families and law, cross-cultural comparisons of families, and issues in adolescent development. She is the past president of the National Council on Family Relations and has been an active member of seven other professional organizations. She has authored numerous articles and chapters and served as a reviewer for thirteen journals.
Timothy M. Wick is professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also codirector of UAB’s BioMatrix Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Center. His research focuses on tissue engineering and cell adhesion, and he has published prolifically in this area. He is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and is an active member of several other professional societies.
Reginald Workman is an associate professor at The New School (Jazz and Contemporary Music Department). A bassist/composer, he is recognized as one of the most technically gifted bassists in modern music. A member of the John Coltrane Quartet, his fifty-year career includes performances and recordings with almost every notable figure in the jazz world, including Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, and Miles Davis. He has received numerous awards for both jazz and jazz education. Current projects include Trio 3, the African-American Legacy Project, and the Sculptured Sounds Music Festival.
John Zubizarreta is professor of English and director of honors and faculty development and former dean of undergraduate studies at Columbia College. A C.A.S.E. Professor for South Carolina, he has published and consulted widely on teaching, learning, academic leadership, and honors education. His most recent book is The Learning Portfolio: Reflective Practice for Improving Student Learning (2004), and he is vice president and president elect of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Chapter One
The Academic Portfolio Concept
An important and welcome change is taking place on college and university campuses: evaluating faculty performance is being taken more seriously. Countless institutions are examining their evaluation methods and exploring ways to improve them. As for faculty, they are being held accountable, as never before, to provide solid evidence of the quality of their teaching, research, and service. The new focus is not just what they have accomplished but the skills, abilities, attitudes, and philosophies that enabled them to achieve professional excellence.
What is behind the movement to seek new and more effective ways to evaluate faculty performance? The growing number of parents and students facing swiftly rising annual costs of higher education led to demanding questions about the quality of faculty performance. And strident demands for faculty accountability from newly aroused legislatures and institutional governing boards added to the pressure on campuses.
But perhaps the most compelling force was the growing chorus of complaints from administrators and professors themselves that the current evaluation system was not geared to assisting review committees to understand the rich quality of their work and its significance. True, they probably have student ratings and a curriculum vitae that lists publications, honors, presentations, and research grants. But student rating numbers and lists of scholarly achievements do not describe one’s professional priorities and strengths. They do not present a rationale for choices made, expectations realized, circumstances that promoted or inhibited success. And, importantly, they do not describe the significance of one’s work.
Yet in the absence of such information, how can performance be evaluated? How can it be rewarded? How can it be improved? And how can institutions give teaching, research, and service their proper role and value?
Is there a way for colleges and universities to respond to the pressures to improve systems of faculty accountability? The answer is yes. A solution can be found looking outside higher education.
Architects, photographers, and artists all have portfolios in which they display and highlight their best work. An academic portfolio would do the same thing. It would enable faculty members to display their accomplishments in teaching, research, and service and discuss the significance of those accomplishments for the record. At the same time, it would contribute to sounder promotion and tenure decisions, as well as the professional development and growth of the individual faculty member.

What Is an Academic Portfolio?

An academic portfolio is a reflective, evidence-based collection of materials that documents teaching, research, and service performance. It brings together, in one place, information about a professor’s most significant professional accomplishments. It includes documents and materials that collectively suggest the scope, quality, and significance of a professor’s achievements. As such, it allows faculty members to display their accomplishments for examination by others. And in the process, it contributes to sounder personnel decisions as well as the professional development of individual faculty members. Zubizarreta (2006, p. 202) describes the academic portfolio as a “. . . judicious, critical, purposeful analysis of performance, evidence, and goals—the kind of reflection and keen scrutiny of achievement and future directions that leads to authentic professional development, meaningful assessment, and sound evaluation.”
In order to be useful, a portfolio must be manageable and cost- and time-efficient. A challenge in portfolio construction is to decide “how much information is enough,” especially when the portfolio is to be used for promotion and tenure decisions. Too many data can be unwieldy and, worse, misleading by creating the impression that the candidate is unable to discriminate or is attempting to overwhelm the committee with paper. Yet too sparse a portfolio may convey a lack of richness, substance, and experience.
The academic portfolio is not an exhaustive compilation of all of the documents and materials that bear on an individual’s performance as a faculty member. Instead, it culls selected information on teaching, research, and service activities that portray an appropriate balance of professional activities and provide solid evidence of their effectiveness. The focus is on the quality and significance of the work, such as an especially innovative teaching technique, an article from a highly competitive journal, or a particularly time-consuming campus committee. Being selective does not mean creating a biased picture of one’s teaching, research and scholarship, and service performance. Rather, it means providing a fair and accurate representation of it.
The logic behind portfolios is straightforward. Earlier assessment methods, such as student ratings, lists of publications, and campus committees, were like flashlights: they illuminated only the activities and abilities that fell within their beams and therefore shed light on only a small part of a professor’s performance. But with portfolios, the flashlight is replaced by a searchlight. Its beam discloses the broad range of professorial skills, attitudes, and philosophies, as well as the significance of one’s achievements to students, colleagues, the academic discipline, and the institution. It has the capacity to convey a true, rich picture of an academic professional life.
Millis (1991) offers reasons for the viability of teaching portfolio development, a view that is readily adaptable to the academic portfolio:
1. Portfolios are cost-effective since they can be integrated into current evaluation processes without major disruption by rethinking and reallocating faculty time and commitment.
2. They are an effective tool for instructional improvement since portfolios are grounded squarely in discipline-related pedagogy.
3. Since portfolios involve both documentation and reflection, and faculty “own” the portfolio process, they are more likely to act positively as a result of their own reflections.
4. Good portfolios are collegial efforts. Valuable assistance can come from a department chair or a faculty colleague in structuring the portfolio and deciding what goes into it.

Using the Portfolio

Faculty members are busy, even harried, individuals. Why would they want to take the time and trouble to prepare an academic portfolio? Seldin (2008) says that the two most frequently cited reasons for preparing one are to provide evidence for use in personnel decisions and to improve performance.

Personnel Decisions

Providing a rational and equitable basis for promotion and tenure decisions is a central reason for preparing an academic portfolio. In today’s climate of increasing accountability, colleges and universities are looking toward portfolios as a rich way, and with greater depth, to get at the complexity and individuality of faculty performance. These institutions have concluded that personnel decisions (evaluation) should rest on a holistic examination of faculty teaching, research, and service performance. The portfolio provides evaluators with hard-to-ignore information on what they do, why they do it, how they do it, and the significance and outcome of what they do.
At some institutions, faculty members who elect to dedicate most of their waking time to a major research program are excused by the department chair or dean from some faculty responsibilities. At other institutions, research and publication are mildly encouraged, and professors are expected to focus on their teaching duties. But at most colleges and universities, professors must learn to divide themselves, like Gaul, into three parts: teaching, research (and publication), and institutional or community service. They are accountable in all three areas.
Some argue that professors should be given unrestricted freedom to select the items that best reflect their performance. That approach works well if the portfolio is developed for improvement, but not if the portfolio is developed for personnel purposes (evaluation). Why? Because the contents are based on a combination of availability of supporting materials, the nature of the portfolio, the faculty position, the discipline, and the mission and objectives of the institution. The resulting lack of standardization makes comparability across portfolios very difficult.
One answer is to require portfolios being used for personnel decisions to include certain mandated items along with the elective ones. Such mandated items might include summaries of student evaluations, innovative course materials, representative course syllabi, description of faculty research, selected samples of publications or creative works, external funding obtained, selected samples of department or institution committees, and a description of three major professional accomplishments and an explanation of why they are noteworthy. All additional items in the portfolio would be selected by individual faculty.
Professors stand to benefit by providing their portfolios to evaluators of their performance. Portfolios provide evaluators with rich evidence on which to make judgments about their effectiveness. If certain items in the portfolio are standardized, comparison of faculty performance (for example, three professors from one large department seeking promotion to full professor) becomes possible.
Does the portfolio approach really make any difference? Consider the comments from professors whose portfolios were used for personnel decisions:
A political science professor in North Carolina: “The portfolio was particularly helpful as I prepared my material for tenure. It helped me articulate who I am academically to people outside my discipline. That was invaluable.”
A history professor in Kansas: “The portfolio made a big difference when I submitted my material for post-tenure review. I sailed through!”
An economics professor in Pennsylvania: “By completing the academic portfolio, I’ve been able to easily gather the important documents that I need to support my application for promotion.”
From a clinical science professor in Washington: “My portfolio helped me to get ready for the promotion process! I felt much more prepared. Internal feedback on my portfolio was very positive, and several colleagues have now asked me to mentor them as they prepare their own portfolios.”
How do members of promotion and tenure committees feel about academic portfolios? Consider the following comments from members of committees:
A committee member at a large research university in Florida: “It took time to learn how to evaluate the portfolios. But once we did, the richness of the data and the integration of material made our job much easier.”
A committee member at a small liberal arts college in Vermont: “Without doubt, we make better tenure and promotion decisions with academic portfolios. The reflection component is essential.”
A committee member at a comprehensive university in New York: “I wish the portfolio idea had come along twenty years ago. Why? Because (a) the integration of material; (b) incorporation of a reflective component; and (c) limited length (sixteen pages here) would have saved the committee considerable time and helped us make much better decisions.”
It is important to keep in mind that use of the portfolio for personnel decisions is only occasional. Its primary purpose is to improve teaching, research, and service performance.

Improve Performance

There is no better reason to prepare a portfolio than to improve performance. The process of thoughtful reflection augmented by the gathering of documents and materials on performance provides data with which to assist the faltering, motivate the tired, and encourage the indecisive.
Faculty are hired by institutions in expectation of first-class performance. To help them hone their performance is nothing more than an extension of this expectation. Improvement becomes possible when the professor is confronted with portfolio data showing strengths and weaknesses—data that the professor accepts as fair and accurate. Preparation of a portfolio can thus serve as a springboard for performance improvement. It is in the very process of reflecting on their work and creating the collection of documents and materials that the professor is stimulated to reconsider policies and activities, rethink strategies and methodologies, revise priorities, and plan for the future.
The academic portfolio is an especially effective tool for improvement because it is grounded in the tripartite role of a professor working in a specific discipline at a particular college or university at the present time. It focuses on reflective analysis, action planning, and self-assessment.
The bottom-line question, of course, remains: Do portfolios actually improve faculty performance? For most faculty, the answer is yes. Experience suggests that if the professor is motivated to improve, knows how to improve, or knows where to go for help, improvement is quite likely.
Consider these comments:
An English professor in California: “The process of taking a fresh look at my teaching, scholarship, and service was motivating and even eye-opening. I especially valued the opportunity to reflect on how my efforts in the proverbial trinity of the professoriate are not as integrated as I originally thought. I’ll work to improve that situation.”
An engineering professor in Indiana: “Developing the portfolio enabled me to take a more systematic look at everything that I’ve been doing in the classroom, as department chair, and in professional activities and then tying the threads together. Areas for improvement are more clear now.”
A foreign language professor in Illinois: “The portfolio helped me reassess the many movements that I make in a day and think about how to keep my ‘eye on the ball.’ Working in academe is so full of distractions. Looking at myself through the academic portfolio helped me refocus on the core of what I do.”
A clinical psychology professor in New Jersey: “Taking the time to step back from the daily work demands and gain a broader perspective allowed me to create some specific career goals. This was both inspiring and effective in helping me lay out a plan for how to direct my efforts in the next few years.”
A music professor in Illinois: “Preparing the portfolio helped me recognize and articulate the connections among my teaching, research, and service; prior to writing it, I hadn’t realized how tightly these professional activities were woven.”
When used for improvement purposes, the portfolio contains no mandated items. Instead it contains only items chosen by the faculty member. For example, a professor might decide to include teaching philosophy and methodology; documentation of teaching improvement activities; comments from peer reviewers on submitted articles and proposed conference presentations; feedback on student advising; description of how his or her teaching, research, and service contribute to professional growth and development; and description of professional goals still to accomplish.
There are three important reasons that the portfolio is such a valuable aid in professional development: (1) it is grounded in discipline-based performance; (2) the level of personal investment in time, energy, and commitment is high—since faculty develop their own portfolios—and that is a necessary condition for change; and (3) it stirs many professors to reflect on their performance in the areas of teaching, research, and service in an insightful, refocused way.
Ideally, academic portfolio development is not a “one-shot” activity but rather a cumulative, reflective process that extends throughout a professor’s professional career. Froh, Gray, and Lambert (1993) view the portfolio as integral to advancement to the next stage of one’s academic career. Why? Because portfolio development can help professors reflect on their accomplishments and activities, chart future goals, and provide documentation to hiring and promotion and tenure committees.
Ongoing examination of professional accomplishments may lead to new directions in academic lives. For example, a faculty member who brings in a major research grant might decide to take up the challenge of incorporating more extensive use of technology in the classroom. A faculty member who completes a new book might agree to chair an institution-wide self-study committee.

Other Purposes

Although it is true that most portfolios are prepared for purposes of personnel decision or improvement of performance, some are prepared for other reasons—for example:
• Graduate students are preparing portfolios to bolster their credentials as they enter the job market.
• Professors are preparing portfolios to take on the road as they seek a different position. Generally the portfolio is submitted in advance of an interview.
• Some institutions are requiring academic portfolios from finalists for academic positions.
• Portfolios are used to help colleges and universities determine winners of awards for outstanding faculty performance or for merit pay consideration.
• Professors nearing retirement are preparing portfolios in order to leave a written legacy so that faculty members who will be taking over their position will have the benefit of their experience.
• Portfolios are used to provide evidence in applications for grants or released time.
• Colleges and universities are asking faculty to prepare portfolios so they can provide data on their performance to persons and organizations operating off campus, such as government agencies, boards of trustees, alumni, the general public, and advocacy groups.

Chapter Two
Choosing Items for the Academic Portfolio
There are many possibilities from which items can be selected that are especially relevant to an individual professor’s particular academic situation. The items chosen for the portfolio depend on (1) the purpose for which the portfolio is being prepared, (2) the institutional context, (3) the discipline, (4) the importance assigned by the faculty member to different items, (5) any content requirements of the faculty member’s institution, and (6) personal predilection and style of the professor. Differences in portfolio content and organization should be encouraged to the extent that they are allowed by the department and the college or university.
Since the academic portfolio is a highly personalized product, like a fingerprint, no two are exactly alike. The information revealed in the narrative and documented in the appendix bears a unique stamp that personalizes the portfolio.
Nevertheless, given the nearly universal need in faculty evaluation today that professors document the three-legged stool of teaching, research, and service, the following list should be helpful. It does not comprise items a professor must include. Rather, it includes many possibilities from which the faculty member can select items relevant to his or her particular academic situation. Also, there may be some other items, not on this list, that are particularly relevant to an individual professor and can be selected for their portfolio.
The portfolio takes a broader view of teaching, research, and service than the traditional curriculum vitae compiled by faculty to document their achievements because it integrates the values of the faculty member with those of the discipline, the department, and the institution. This is accomplished by work samples and reflective commentary that speak to such an integration of values. Thus, the portfolio transforms the traditional dossier to reflect the work of each individual faculty member and the unique contribution that he or she has made in relevant areas of teaching, research, and service.
A word of caution: All college and university faculty have seen poor student work dressed in fancy covers. The point of the academic portfolio is not a fancy cover. Instead, it is the thoughtful, integrated compilation of documents and materials that make the best case for the professor’s effectiveness.
The portfolio narrative has a hierarchical structure. Typically it contains five main categories: the preface, independent sections on teaching, research, and service, and a section on integrating professional work and goals. An appendix provides evidence that supports the narrative section.
Within the main categories, professors create subcategories that provide rich details on their professional activities, initiatives, goals, and accomplishments and thoughtful reflection on their performance.
An important word about the academic portfolio template that follows: this is its ninth iteration. More than two hundred deans, department chairs, and faculty members contributed to its development. They work at large universities and small colleges, public and private institutions, unionized and nonunionized campuses. Settings vary, of course, but the questions that need to be considered and the materials that need to be collected are similar across all contexts.
What differs from institution to institution are the policies and procedures followed, the criteria used to assess the evidence of teaching, research and scholarship performance, and the relative weighting of various activities. For that reason, readers are urged to develop their individual portfolios bearing in mind the context of their own campus culture.


This section, which is usually about a half-page in length, spells out the purpose (tenure? promotion? improvement?) for which the portfolio is being prepared. It also provides a crucial road map for the reader announcing major subject areas. Faculty sometimes include brief summary statements on the importance and quality of their work and how their activities support the mission and vision of their institution.


Typically five or six pages long, this section usually includes a statement of teaching responsibilities, which provides details on courses taught and average student enrollment. A chart or table is a useful way to present the information graphically. The section on teaching responsibilities also includes information on student advising and, where relevant, thesis mentoring. The sections that follow explain the topics typically included in the teaching section.

Teaching Philosophy, Objectives, and Methodologies

The focus here is on the philosophy of teaching and learning that drives the classroom performance of the professor. Following are some guiding questions to consider as prompts when preparing this section: What do I believe about the role of the teacher? The role of the student? Why do I teach the way I do? What does learning look like when it happens? Why do I choose the teaching strategies and methods that I use? How do I assess my students’ learning?

Description of Curricular Revisions

This section concerns new or revised courses, material, and assignments.
Guiding questions as prompts: