Teaching Portfolio Development

This practical guide is designed to assist in the development of teaching portfolios.

Over an academic career, instructors are asked to develop different types of portfolios, including the course portfolio, the professional (scholarly) portfolio, and the teaching portfolio.

Course portfolio: Includes information specific to a particular course, including syllabi, course materials, and sample assignments, along with the rationale behind assignments and a discussion regarding how teaching methods and course materials help students learn.

Professional portfolio: Includes a collection of documents submitted as part of the promotion and tenure process. This type of portfolio would include scholarly work and research progress, teaching experience and accomplishments, and academic service records.

Teaching portfolio: Describes and documents multiple aspects of teaching ability. Teaching portfolios are prepared in one of two basic formats:

  • Summative portfolios are created for the purpose of applying for an academic job or for promotion and tenure within a department.
  • Formative portfolios are created for the purpose of personal and professional development.

Because teaching experience changes as a career progresses, it’s a good idea to periodically update portfolio(s) not only to ensure currency, but also to reflect regularly on teaching. At some point in a career, instructors may find that they need to keep a summative as well as a formative portfolio, because they serve different purposes. However, note that summative and formative portfolios may share materials. Some people describe a teaching portfolio as a place to summarize teaching accomplishments and provide examples of classroom material; others describe it as a mechanism and space for reflecting on teaching. The Drake Institute recommends a portfolio as a space to do both.


Why create a portfolio?

  • To reflect on teaching goals
  • To assess teaching strengths and areas which need improvement
  • To document progress as a teacher
  • To generate ideas for future teaching/course development
  • To identify personal teaching style
  • To promote dialogue with fellow teachers
  • To consider new ways of gathering student feedback
  • To collect detailed data to support your goals
  • To curate multiple sources of evidence that document the implementation of evidence-based instructional strategies and their effectiveness
  • To embark on the academic job search, to apply for promotion and tenure process, and to develop personally and professionally.


Getting Started

Portfolio formats vary, but an effective portfolio should be well documented and highly organized. The American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) suggests that a teaching portfolio should be the following:


A structured portfolio should be organized, complete, and creative in its presentation. Some questions for you to think about might be: Is my portfolio neat? Are the contents displayed in an organized fashion? Are the contents representative for the purpose that it is intended?


In addition to attending to structure, a portfolio should also be comprehensive. The documentation should represent the scope of your work. It should be representative across courses and time. Some questions for you to think about might be: Does my portfolio portray the types and levels of courses that I have taught? Does my portfolio display a cross-section of my work in teaching?


The natural tendency for anyone preparing a portfolio is wanting to document everything. However, if a portfolio is being used either for summative or formative purposes, careful attention should be given to conciseness and selectivity in order to appropriately document one's work. We suggest that you limit the contents of your portfolio to what is required by the reviewer while also keeping the purpose in mind.

Content to Include

Because a portfolio describes and documents the abilities of a unique individual, no two teaching portfolios look alike. A portfolio can include a number of different types of documents, depending on the purpose for creating a portfolio, the type of teaching done, the academic discipline, and the portfolio's intended audience. In spite of the variation that exists across portfolios, the following materials are often included:

A table of contents is an important tool in organizing the various sections of your portfolio. 

Narrative Components

Some of the sections listed above, such as the teaching philosophy, are strictly narrative (reflective). Others consist of a set of materials that are supplemented by a narrative or rationale. The following questions should be answered in narratives accompanying any of the sections or documents:

  • Why did you include this material in the portfolio?
  • How was this material (or practice) used in the classroom?
  • Was the material (or practice) effective? What did students learn as a result of incorporating the material (or practice) into instruction?
  • How has instruction changed as a result?
  • What have you learned about yourself as a teacher?


Need Further Assistance?

Drake Institute staff are available for individual meetings to discuss portfolio types and preparation, areas of the teaching process to be examined, the kinds of information to be collected, and how these materials might be analyzed and presented. Staff can also help instructors collect feedback on their teaching through the use of student focus groups and mid-term evaluation tools.

To schedule a consultation appointment, contact us (with “Teaching Portfolio” as the subject line).