Tips on Teaching

Portfolios as Tools for Reflection

Reinert Center typeset_icon_2014_solid_082214by Gina Merys, Associate Director, Reinert Center

This past weekend (March 18-19), the Reinert Center co-hosted our annual Academic Portfolio Retreat. Over a two day period, invited facilitator, Dr. Marilyn Miller led 25 faculty members through writing a beginning draft of each of the sections of their academic portfolio for tenure and/or promotion.

Attending this event each year reminds me that more than just a container to “hold” lists and artifacts of various accomplishments, a portfolio can be a powerful tool for reflection. Whether a faculty member’s professional dossier or a student’s final project, the occasion of assembling a portfolio can be one of contemplation and discernment. Curating the contents of a portfolio necessitates a decision-making schema that draws on the ways in which we make meaning out of our experiences and then retells our story to the portfolio’s audience through that schema.

This process requires us to take ownership not just of the artifacts of our experiences (journal articles, courses taught, student evaluations, etc. for a professional dossier or essays, poems, case studies, etc. for a student course portfolio) but also, the process by which we created and accumulated those experiences. We look to the ways that curation process helps us make connections among our experiences and how the collective whole of the portfolio represents an entire narrative of our journey in teaching, research, service, and other activities, thus far.

Do you use portfolios (either formal or informal) as a site of reflection? Share examples in the comments section of this blog.