Portfolios

Your final ePortfolio will be reviewed by the Graduate Teaching Certificate Review Board, however, you may design it for multiple audiences: for example, in addition to preparing your ePortfolio for approval by the Graduate Teaching Certificate Review Board, you might prepare it for presentation to potential employers.

Graduate teaching certificate of completion logo

Objectives

  • Determine appropriate goals for student learning outcomes.
  • Understand and work effectively with diverse student populations.
  • Design courses, including selecting and sequencing course materials, and developing course assignments.
  • Employ evaluative procedures which validly assess student learning.
  • Use innovative pedagogical approaches, such as teaching with technology, collaborative learning, and/or service-learning.
  • Reflect upon and revise your pedagogical practices throughout your teaching career.

The Portfolio Will Include:

Reflection Essay that serves as an introduction to the portfolio. Here you might discuss how your understanding of teaching has developed in the course of your work on the certificate, how the connections between course work, workshops/seminars, and experiential learning have combined to help you understand teaching in new ways, and so on. This reflection essay guides the Review Board through your portfolio, helping them identify the most important issues and learning therein. Your essay may be a written document. It may also be a recorded performance or a montage of your efforts.

Your teaching philosophy may be a broad statement, designed for a general audience, or it may address more specific issues within teaching, such as experiential learning or critical thinking. Again, tailor your statement to your personal and professional interests.

Materials include sample syllabi, course materials, course policies, lesson plans, etc. that you have developed. These materials should be easily understood by the Review Board, and they serve several functions: they illustrate your ability to put pedagogical theory into practice, and they serve as teaching materials that you can use upon graduation.

In addition to curricular materials, you have the opportunity to create several sample assignments and to articulate your goals/desired outcomes for those assignments. Here, your specific interests come dramatically into play. If, for example, you are interested in a specific disciplinary pedagogy, you might develop assignments for lab reports, poster sessions, and research reports, among others. The assignments you create should be keyed to your learning objectives.

This section of the portfolio gives you the opportunity to articulate and assess a variety of evaluation strategies. You may link these strategies for evaluation to the sample assignments developed in the previous section.

Documents such as critical essays, annotated bibliographies, Workshop Review Forms, and so on. Some of these documents may have been produced in courses, under the mentorship of a faculty member with whom you’ve been doing an internship. By including these reflective documents in your portfolio, you have an opportunity to gauge your growth as a teacher, to contemplate the pedagogical issues which will be most challenging to you, and to illustrate the variety of teaching-related activities in which you’ve participated during the certificate program.

It is always a good idea to ask a trusted faculty member to observe your teaching; those observations are vital to include in letters of recommendation, for example. By including such observations or evaluations in your portfolio, you keep a record of your growth as a teacher.

Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Our roles as teachers are becoming increasingly important in the academy, and a Teaching Philosophy is an important document to include in any application for a college or university faculty position. A Statement of Teaching Philosophy is a statement of your beliefs about teaching. You will address how the students you want to serve shape your beliefs and your direction. Your statement will provide information about how you teach and how you work to accomplish both long and short-term teaching goals. While your statement will explicate your process as a teacher, the information is best presented with a student-centered focus.

Most teaching portfolios (electronic or otherwise) contain a statement of teaching philosophy. Gabriela Montell offers the following advice about this key element of a teaching portfolio in a 2003 Chronicle of Higher Education article.

How to Write a Teaching Philosophy

  • What do you believe about teaching? Why? How are your beliefs played out in the classroom?
  • How does student identity and background influence your teaching?
  • What have been some of your most successful assignments or practices in light of the above?
  • Does the college to which you’re applying have a mission statement that includes religious, environmental, or other emphases?
  • Does the college serve a specific student population? What are class sizes, admissions requirements, etc?
  • What are the teaching philosophies of other instructors at the institution to which you’re applying?

A teaching philosophy isn’t a laundry list of what you’ve done. Focus not so much on what courses you’ve taught, but on how you go about teaching.

If there’s a page limit, stick to it. It can be read as a sign of a) disrespect and b) poor writing skills if you submit a document that dramatically exceeds a search committee’s request.

Anchor general philosophy statements with concrete examples that an audience can visualize. Everyone wants to create a “student-centered classroom,” to “facilitate collaboration” or to “help students think more critically.” The key is to follow-up, to offer examples and specific techniques that back up general statements.

  • Be careful not to sound as if you know all there is to know about teaching. A pompous-sounding philosophy is sure to alienate potential colleagues.
  • Avoid superlatives that make you sound arrogant. Instead of saying, “My students say I’m the best teacher they ever had,” consider a more humble statement, such as, “My evaluations are consistently high.”
  • It’s important to show that you can be innovative and can incorporate sophisticated concepts into your teaching. But be sure to do so in light of students’ responses and reactions. Don’t invite your readers to ask, “Is this all about you, or your students?”
  • When you talk about students, convey enthusiasm and caring—never condescension.

Don’t assume that a small college isn’t interested in your research; show how you can integrate your research/creative activities and teaching.

In addition to these pedagogical emphases, you can speak with a member of the Graduate Teaching Certificate Review Board about customizing your certificate program even further.

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