Teaching Portfolios

The reflection phase affords lecturers the opportunity to establish whether the module, and their teaching, achieved its stated objectives and outcomes.


The reflection phase affords lecturers the opportunity to establish whether the module, and their teaching, achieved its stated objectives and outcomes. Now that we have had to move our teaching online and off-campus, it is more important than ever before to maintain contact with our students and obtain their feedback on how they are progressing with their learning. Teaching face to face in class, it is usually possible to gauge students’ faces and nonverbal expressions when we explain or ask something. In the online space, however, we need to employ other techniques to determine how well students are learning, and how well we are teaching. This reflection can occur by gathering data and/or obtaining feedback through the lecturer feedback form, peer observations and formal or informal student feedback using classroom assessment techniques (CATs). This information can then be used to inform the curriculum context for the next round of teaching, learning and assessment.

The teaching portfolio can be delivered in a number of formats

The Format And Content Of The Teaching Portfolio: Suggestions

Examples may include the following:

More suggestions

The Format And Content Of The Teaching Portfolio: Suggestions

Questions To Prompt Reflection

Try to answer these questions in conversation with a colleague or by writing down your responses on your own:

1. Describe the best learning experience you have had as a student.

Maybe also think of your worst. This helps to identify how we best learn and reminds us as instructors what it is like to be a student. Maryellen Weimer (2013) recently discussed this in the context of influencing the learning environment.

2. Describe the best teaching experience you have had as a lecturer.

And the worst? Are there any similarities to the learning experience you described above?  This question attempts to link your learning to your teaching.

3. What are you trying to achieve in your students with your teaching?

This is a big question and may be best initially answered by thinking about it in the context of what you feel is the course you teach with the most success. Context is a very broad concept – start with YOUR students’ needs and contexts, and YOUR discipline. You can then expand to academic contexts in the academic field, the institutional context, and beyond:  the social, national and international contexts.   It is strongly recommended that you read up on micro/meso/macro contexts of higher education.

4. Why is this important to you?

This consideration helps in articulating your approach to your students in the context of the teaching discipline. Your approach may be broader than the discipline itself and may link to the personal growth of students and not only their intellectual growth.

5. How do you achieve the objectives you wrote down for question #3 above?

That is, what teaching strategies or approaches do you use in your classes that produce the learning environment or opportunities for your students to reach your teaching objectives? Hopefully, this has been informed by your answers in questions #1 & 2 above. If there is no apparent connection between this question and your answers to #1 & 2, then this might be cause to pause and reflect why this is.

6. Why do you use these particular teaching strategies as opposed to others that are available to you?

Have your strategies developed over time through courses attended, articles read, trial and error, student feedback? Why? This is where you start developing the argument or citing the evidence for the value or success of your approach to teaching. Hopefully, you are able to make links to your own learning and teaching philosophy.

In short, the following questions can guide your reflection:

  1. My best (and worst) learning experience as a student was…
  2. My best (and worst) teaching experience as a lecturer is/was…
  3. Through teaching, I try to achieve the following in my students …
  4. This is important to me because…
  5. My objectives (#3) are achieved by…
  6. I use these strategies rather than others because…

These questions help to develop our teaching philosophies. They can be strengthened with regular revision and by grounding them in questions of philosophy (Beatty et al 2009). Considering our teaching philosophies in the context of our own and our students’ learning philosophies has the potential to help us, as lecturers, aid our students’ development from dependent to independent learners.

My learning philosophy is …………………………………. thus …….

How does your learning and teaching philosophy manifest in the teaching strategies that you have chosen to use in your classes?

Guidelines To Developing A Teaching Portfolio: Links

Seminal Scholarly Articles & Books on Teaching Portfolios


  • Beatty, J.E.,  Leigh, J.S.A., Dean, K.L.  2009. Philosophy Rediscovered. Exploring the Connections Between Teaching Philosophies, Educational Philosophies, and Philosophy.  Journal of Management Education Volume 33 Number 1 p 99-114. Available: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1052562907310557 . [18 June 2016].
  • Benade, L. 2015. Teachers’ critical reflective practice in the context of twenty-first-century learning. Open Review of Educational Research, 2(1): 42-54.
  • Boyer, E.L. 1990. Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, New Jersey: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
  • Brookfield, S. (summarised). 2010. Brookfield’s four lenses: Becoming a critically reflective teacher. Sydney: Faculty of Arts Teaching and Learning Network, University of Sydney. Available: https://valenciacollege.edu/faculty/development/courses-resources/documents/brookfield_summary.pdf. [18 June 2016].
  • Buckridge, M. 2008. Teaching portfolios: Their role in teaching and learning policy. International Journal for Academic Development, 13(2): 117-127.
  • Chalmers, D. & Hunt, L. 2016. Evaluation of teaching. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 3, 25-55. Available: www.herdsa.org.au/herdsa-review-higher-education-vol-3/25-55 . [18 June 2016].
  • De Rijdt, C., Tiquet, E., Dochy, F. & Devolder, M. 2006. Teaching portfolios in higher education and their effects: An explorative study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22: 1084–1093.
  • Hegarty, B. 2011. Is reflective writing an enigma? Can preparing evidence for an electronic portfolio develop skills for reflective practice? Conference proceedings, ascilite 2011, Tasmania.
  • Kane, R., Sandretto, S. & Heath, C. 2004. An investigation into excellent tertiary teaching: Emphasising reflective practice. Higher Education, 47: 283-310.
  • Kreber, C. & Cranton, P.A. 2000. Exploring the scholarship of teaching. Journal of Higher Education, 71(4): 476–495.
  • Lupton, M. 2013. Reclaiming the art of teaching. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(2): 156-166.
  • McLean, M. & Bullard, J.E. 2000. Becoming a university teacher: evidence from teaching portfolios (how academics learn to teach). Teacher Development, 4(1): 79-101.
  • Pitts, W. & Ruggirello, R. 2012. Using the e-Portfolio to Document and Evaluate Growth in Reflective Practice: The Development and Application of a Conceptual Framework. International Journal of ePortfolio, 2(1): 49-74.
  • Quinlan, K.M. 2018. From pedagogic innovation to publication: resituating your pedagogic research. Unpublished chapter. 1-11.
  • Rodriguez-Farrar, H.B. 2006. The Teaching Portfolio: A Handbook for Faculty, Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows.  Rhode Island: The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University.
  • Schön, D. 1987. Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Schönwetter , D.J., Sokal , L., Friesen, M. & Taylor, K.L. 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.
  • Shulman, L.S. 1988. A Union of Insufficiencies: Strategies for Teacher Assessment in a Period of Reform. Educational Leadership 46(3):36-41.
  • Shulman, L.S. 1993. Forum: Teaching as community property. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 25(6):6-7.
  • Tigelaar, D.E.H., Dolmans, D.H.J.M., De Grave, W.S., Wolfhagen, I.H.A.P. & Van der Vleuten, C.P.M. 2006. Portfolio as a tool to stimulate teachers’ reflections. Medical Teacher, 28(3): 277–282.
  • Trevitt, C. & Stocks, C. 2012. Signifying authenticity in academic practice: A framework for better understanding and harnessing portfolio assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 37(2): 245-257.
  • Trevitt, C., Macduff, A. & Steed, A. 2014. [e]portfolios for learning and as evidence of achievement: Scoping the academic practice development agenda ahead. Internet and Higher Education, 20: 69-78.
  • Weimer, M. 2013. Two Activities that Influence the Climate for Learning. In, The Teaching Professor. Madison: Magna Publications Inc. Available:  https://www.teachingprofessor.com/topics/for-those-who-teach/two-activities-that-influence-the-climate-for-learning/  . [18 June 2016].
  • Winberg, C. & Pallitt, N. 2016. “I am trying to practice good teaching”: Reconceptualizing eportfolios for professional development in vocational higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology. British Educational Research Association.

Frequently Asked Questions

A teaching portfolio is the “story” of you as a teaching professional and of your teaching practice. It consists of two main divisions: a) a reflective narrative about your teaching, your students’ learning and your professional learning, and b) appendices with exemplars to substantiate your narrative.

  • A teaching portfolio is first and foremost a reflection tool to enhance your teaching practice. To create a portfolio, you have to think back about what you have done and try to change or correct past actions for your teaching in the present and the future. You therefore have to analyse and interpret your teaching experiences, thinking critically about all aspects of your teaching and how you could enhance your teaching practice.
  • Your portfolio shows how you see the relation between teaching and learning with regard to your teaching practice. It also shows the development of your teaching over time. Creating a portfolio is thus an effective way to learn about yourself as a teaching professional.
  • You will need a teaching portfolio to:
    – apply for promotion;
    – apply for a University or national teaching award; or
    – complete your annual performance appraisal.

Your portfolio should include three major areas of academic work:

  • Your teaching and educational development;
  • Your scholarship and professional learning; and
  • Your contributions to the university and the community.

You should include some evidence of your participation and reflection in each of these areas, although at any point in your academic career your work is likely to have a greater focus on some areas than on others.

Your portfolio should consist of the following elements, in the sequence given below:
1. An abbreviated CV that focuses on your teaching
2. A reflective narrative comprising:
2.1 Your teaching context;
2.2 Teaching philosophy statement;
2.3 Teaching methods, strategies and activities;
2.4 Curricula;
2.5 Assessment of student learning;
2.6 Contributions to the department, university and community; and
2.7 Professional learning.
3. Appendices containing supplemental materials that document or support the information you provide in your narrative, e.g. student feedback, student success rates, and peer evaluations (internal and external moderators, a colleague, etc.). You would also include representative examples of module frameworks, content, assessment and teaching activities.

The portfolio consists broadly of your reflective narrative and appendices as outlined under (3) above. The elements of the portfolios are put into the sequence mentioned above.

A teaching philosophy statement is a reflective narrative that forms the framework of your portfolio, its “golden thread”, as it were. It articulates your personal philosophy about teaching and your students’ learning and includes your teaching and learning beliefs, goals, values and practices.

There are three particularly important points to bear in mind:

  • Your teaching philosophy statement should not “showcase” you as a perfect teacher. You need to show both your failures and successes, and especially how your failures lead to your successes. You therefore need to track your development as a teacher.
  • Your philosophy should be linked to the literature about teaching in higher education.
  • Your philosophy should refer to the other components of your portfolio.

A teaching philosophy statement should be approximately two pages long.
A helpful resource is Trinity College Dublin’s “Writing a teaching philosophy statement”.

Yes. You may include up to two letters of recommendation from students, peers, your departmental chair, external moderators, etc. in an appendix. Reference these letters in your narrative.

Generally speaking, a teaching portfolio should be no longer than 50 pages. Your narrative should be approximately 20 pages and your appendices approximately 30 pages.

You may include an abbreviated CV of approximately 2 pages that focuses on your teaching. The CV is placed at the beginning of the portfolio.

You may compile your portfolio in either a Word/pdf or an electronic format. If you are applying for an award or for promotion, you may need to bear specific requirements in mind.
More information about available electronic formats is available elsewhere in this portfolio resource.

Please contact the CTL advisor in your Faculty or email Dr Karin Cattell at kcattell@sun.ac.za .

Award-winning national teaching portfolios

Examples Of Teaching Portfolios

Examples of award-winning national teaching portfolios are available on the HELTASA (Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa) website. You can click here for the HELTASA website.  See good examples below of SU winners’ portfolios.

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