The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions


By Peter Seldin, J. Elizabeth Miller, and Clement A. Seldin

The academic job application requires a number of supporting documents, including letters of recommendation, a curriculum vitae, and, increasingly, a teaching portfolio. While a teaching portfolio was nearly unheard of for the last generation of college instructors, hiring universities are interested in knowing more about candidates’ performance in the classroom. Document your development as a teacher through a teaching portfolio.

The definitive work on constructing teaching portfolios for the past 20 years has been Peter Seldin’sThe Teaching Portfolio. Now in its fourth edition, Seldin has updated the volume with the help of co-authors J. Elizabeth Miller and Clement A. Seldin to include a section on e-portfolios and a collection of actual teaching portfolios made by tenure-track faculty from a wide variety of fields and different types of higher-education institutions.

The volume has three parts: The first part is dedicated to defining a teaching portfolio and explaining why an instructor at the college level should develop one. While the intended audience is tenure-track faculty who are documenting their work as teachers in order to achieve tenure, or for tenured faculty looking to be promoted from associate to full professor, the teaching portfolio is also relevant to graduate students preparing for the job market. For specific tips on constructing a portfolio, see chapter 4, which outlines the steps for creating a teaching portfolio. Chapter 5 emphasizes the importance of collaboration and working with a mentor or colleague to help edit the portfolio, and chapter 6 provides concrete advice for making the teaching portfolio easier to access for the reader. And finally, chapter 9, while short, offers a brief overview of how the teaching portfolio can be adapted to a digital format. For job candidates looking to show their digital savvy, this chapter provides only a peek at the e-portfolio. You’ll need to do additional research into this format as you build your portfolio.

The second part of the volume, which includes how four different institutions use teaching portfolios to make tenure decisions, can easily be skipped over if a graduate student is looking for guidance as he or she goes on the job market. The exception would be chapter 12, which addresses how the TDP (Teaching Development Program) is used at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Here at UNL, we use the Teaching Documentation Program to give graduate students feedback on their teaching. Consider looking at this chapter if you have or if you plan to participate in our TDP.

The third part includes portfolios from faculty members from diverse fields and universities. Read together, these portfolios help give an idea of how you can adopt the template of a teaching portfolio to reflect your development as an instructor. Even for graduate students who aren’t going on the job market for another few years,The Teaching Portfolio can help orient the graduate student who is just beginning to teach or in the middle of his or her graduate teaching career. Start collecting your support material early and, with the help of Seldin’s work, enter the job market with confidence.