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Teaching Portfolios

Teaching Portfolios Survey (2003)

Introduction to Survey

After seven annual Teaching Portfolio Workshops on Analyzing and Improving Teaching (1995-2001), serving more than 90 faculty members and over 70 graduate teaching assistants (TAs), the U.Va. Teaching Resource Center (TRC) staff wanted to take a closer look at former participants perceptions of their experiences of writing and having a teaching portfolio, as well as their long-term memories of the workshop itself. We are grateful for generous funding from an anonymous alumna of the French Department and for the expert staff help from the Office of Institutional Assessment and Studies. We conducted in late 2002 a web-based survey of all colleagues who completed a significant portion of the workshop and whose current e-mail addresses could be found, a total of 155 faculty and TAs.


Backgrounds of Respondents

All faculty and TAs who completed a substantial portion of the Teaching Portfolio Workshop were invited to respond to this survey, whether or not they had remained at U.Va.

Faculty:
88 faculty members invited to respond (of whom 17 had left U.Va. by time of survey);
72 responded, yielding an 82% response rate (of the 16 non-respondents, 6 had left U.Va.)

Current Faculty Ranks:

Lecturer
4
5.56% 
Instructor
4
5.56% 
Assistant Professor
20
27.78%
Associate Professor
24
33.33%
Professor
20
27.78%

Teaching assistants:
67 TAs & instructors invited to respond (of whom 40 had left U.Va. by time of survey); 20 responded, yielding a 30% response rate.


Overall Results

Overall, the data are extremely positive, with over 97% of the responding faculty and 100% of the responding TAs stating that they found it “worthwhile to write a portfolio.” This statistic reflects an ongoing theme of the additional comments respondents offered: They found it highly beneficial and satisfying to engage in analyzing their teaching by writing a portfolio and discussing ideas with colleagues. The Teaching Resource Center will continue to recommend that colleagues write portfolios primarily for self-reflection and self-improvement.

In the end, 93% of the faculty and 100% of the TAs found the Teaching Portfolio Workshop to be “useful.” The overall value respondents ascribed to having a portfolio was also high: 85% of both the faculty and the TAs found that it has been “very valuable” or “somewhat valuable” to have a teaching portfolio.

They testify most frequently that they use their portfolios in ways central to Portfolio Workshop goals:

  • To think about / reflect on / analyze their teaching.
  • To document what they do as teachers.

In addition, although the workshop does not focus on using portfolios for promotion and tenure purposes, or for considering relationships between teaching and research, many faculty and TAs (now faculty members) have found their portfolios helpful for such purposes.

The survey yields data useful and interesting not only to TRC staff in designing future workshops but also data that informs the U.Va. community at large, as well as those working on enhancing teaching at other colleges and universities around the world. The results we publish here are those of most potential interest to U.Va. colleagues considering the value of writing a portfolio themselves. They should also interest other colleagues in faculty development who wonder about the desirability of instituting their own Teaching Portfolio Workshop.

Conclusion

When speaking to incoming faculty, President Casteen has singled out the Portfolio Workshop as a unique opportunity for University of Virginia faculty. These survey data strongly confirm that both U.Va. faculty and U.Va. graduate student TAs find it highly beneficial both personally and professionally to take the time to reflect on their own teaching goals, strategies, and philosophies. Although they find writing a portfolio rewarding in many ways, colleagues most strongly endorse its value as a vehicle for self-reflection. Thus the focus will remain on the inherent values of self-analysis and ongoing improvement as the Teaching Resource Center continues the U.Va. Teaching Portfolio Workshop as a biennial event.