ERIC Identifier: ED405759
Publication Date: 1997-00-00
Author: Murray, John P.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Higher Education Washington DC.| BBB32577 _ George Washington Univ. Washington
DC. Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Successful Faculty Development and Evaluation: The Complete
Teaching Portfolio. ERIC Digest.
New York Governor George Pataki says of SUNY faculty in the "Rochester
Democrat and Chronicle's" Labor Day edition: "I think they can get more
productivity out of the workforce." The story makes it clear that Pataki is
talking about more hours in the classroom, which he believes translates into
better learning for students. The newspaper story also notes that Ohio recently
passed a law requiring college and university teachers to spend 10 percent more
time in the classroom. The sponsor of that law says: "Universities and colleges
kind of consider themselves above it all,...where us common folk can't really
comprehend what they do....With tuition rising at a tremendous rate, there's got
to be some rules."
Much of this type of criticism is based on misconceptions that teaching
involves only the time spent in the classroom and that professors spend very
little time teaching. Educators must demonstrate that the hours spent in the
classroom are only part of the real work of teaching. One means to this end is
the teaching portfolio, which can provide professors with a vehicle to document
the quality and quantity of their teaching.
WHAT IS A TEACHING PORTFOLIO?
Teaching portfolios can be
defined in at least four ways by focusing on their purpose. First, teaching
portfolios are vehicles for documenting teaching, with the emphasis on
demonstrating excellence (see, e.g., O'Neil and Wright 1992). Second, teaching
portfolios are vehicles that empower professors to gain dominion over their
professional lives (see, e.g., Seldin 1991). Third, teaching portfolios are
vehicles to provide institutions of higher learning with the means to
demonstrate that teaching is an institutional priority (see, e.g., Braskamp and
Ory 1994). Fourth, teaching portfolios are vehicles for individualizing faculty
development (see, e.g., Seldin 1993b; Shore et al. 1986).
WHAT DOES HIGHER EDUCATION VALUE?
The introduction of
teaching portfolios requires institutions to critically examine what they value,
and what institutions value is ultimately reflected in their reward structure.
Unfortunately, four-year colleges and universities on the whole reward research.
Until this situation is changed, in actions as well as in words, teaching will
always take a distant second place to publications, grants, and the other public
marks of the researcher. "[It] is futile to talk about improving the quality of
teaching if, in the end, faculty are not given recognition for the time they
spend with students" (Boyer 1990, p. xi). A critical first step to recognizing
and rewarding good teaching is to develop effective ways to assess teaching
The appraisal of performance must be individualized for it to ultimately
affect teaching (Blackburn and Pitney 1988). But "individualization in teaching
is threatened by the typical way it is assessed, namely, by student
evaluations.... They establish a uniform set of standards and assume that
certain behaviors are good and [that] the absence of those behaviors constitutes
proof of poor teaching" (p. 32). Student evaluations appear to have little
impact on the improvement of teaching, however (Ory 1991), and something more is
needed if colleges and universities are serious in their desire to improve
teaching through performance appraisal. "A portfolio system would accomplish the
goal of continuous growth and development, the realization of the individual's
full potential" (Blackburn and Pitney 1988, p. 32).
WHAT SHOULD A TEACHING PORTFOLIO CONTAIN?
incorporate a statement of the professor's philosophical beliefs about teaching
and learning. Philosophical beliefs shape, sometimes in subtle ways, human
behavior. When professors reflect on how a particular reading, a specific
teaching style, or a particular assignment relates to their philosophy of
education, they are examining deeply held convictions. Therefore, much of the
remainder of the portfolio details how professors put their beliefs into
practice in and out of the classroom. Most important, much of the portfolio
should be devoted to reflection on how behaviors are congruent with beliefs.
Most portfolios also incorporate a plan for altering behaviors found to be
incongruent with the professor's philosophical assumptions about teaching and
learning. And the portfolio should incorporate a strategy to assess the
appropriateness and success of the new behaviors.
HOW CAN ADMINISTRATORS BUILD INTEREST?
ultimately means managing change in this case, a significant change in the
culture of higher education. Administrators need to become effective change
agents. Because of our socialization in graduate education, most of us are well
steeped in the "traditions" of academe; therefore, it can be quite challenging
to guide others through changes seeking to radically alter that hegemony. If the
change is to be significant and lasting, administrators should develop methods
to include most faculty in the process not simply in the product. For many
administrators, it means learning more about how to implement change, garner
support, and overcome resistance.
If the improvement of teaching and learning is the ultimate goal of a
portfolio project, most faculty will want to learn how to assess the
effectiveness of their teaching and students' learning. Although the literature
on faculty evaluation has included references to formative evaluation for some
time, these references usually fail to include advice on how one might go about
this vital task of assessment. Although many faculty are quite capable of
knowing when students are not understanding the material, often professors do
not know how to go about discovering why students are not learning. Therefore,
the complete portfolio project should plan activities intended to help faculty
"learn how" to assess their teaching, their students' learning, and the currency
of their courses.
The difference between a faculty evaluation system that supports faculty and
one that demoralizes faculty can be found in the care that goes into designing a
"systematic and comprehensive" evaluation system. Evaluation is effective when
administrators and faculty work together to develop the instruments and
procedures rather than when administrators impose them on the faculty.
Administrators and faculty working together should start by determining the
purpose(s) of evaluation, who will be evaluated, how often, who will do the
evaluating, and, most important, what will be evaluated.
Department chairs should take great pains to publicly connect the outcomes of
faculty evaluation to the reward system. When the faculty evaluation process
demonstrates that an individual is a good teacher, chairs must be certain that
the institution rewards the individual. For too long, rewards have gone solely
to the faculty who excel at research. Teaching portfolios can provide an
effective means of recognizing good teaching. And the recognition of good
teaching is the first step toward adequately rewarding it.
Blackburn, R.T., and J.A. Pitney. 1988.
Appraisal for Faculty: Implications for Higher Education. Ann Arbor, Mich.:
National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning. ED
316 066. 59 pp. MF01; PC03.
Boyer, E.L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: The Priorities of the
Professorate. Princeton, N.J.: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching. ED 326 149. 151 pp. MF01; PC not available EDRS.
Braskamp, L.A., and J.C. Ory. 1994. Assessing Faculty Work: Enhancing
Individual and Institutional Performance. Higher and Adult Education Series. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ED 368 305. 333 pp. MF01; PC not available EDRS.
O'Neil, C., and A. Wright. 1992. Recording Teaching Accomplishment: A
Dalhousie Guide to the Teaching Dossier. 3d ed. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Dalhousie
Ory, J.C. 1991. "Changes in Teaching in Higher Education." Instructional
Evaluation 11: 9. Seldin, P. 1991. The Teaching Portfolio. Bolton, Mass.: Anker
Ory, J.C. 1993. Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios. Bolton, Mass.: Anker
Publishing Co. Shore, B.M., et al. 1986. The Teaching Dossier: A Guide to Its
Preparation and Use. Rev. ed. Montreal: Canadian Association of University
This ERIC digest is based on a full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC Higher
Education Report series 95-8, Successful Faculty Development and Evaluation: The
Complete Teaching Portfolio by John P. Murray.