Monday, December 7, 2009

Creating Your Academic Portfolio

I recently attended a workshop put on by our school's career services department about making an academic portfolio. Now that I'm a PhD student, I really want to redo my current website to better suit this type of portfolio. I made what's there now when I was still an undergrad planning on going to industry, and have been shoehorning all the research and teaching stuff into one little section doesn't highlight what I want it to. Here's what I learned from the workshop that I'll be using when I work on this (hopefully) over the holidays.

What is it?

An academic portfolio (also known as a teaching dossier as far as I can tell) is a way to evaluate teaching and research; there is no single standard, making it rather subjective. It is a moving collection of artifacts.

Why do you want it?
  • It can help you prepare your future and ground yourself.
  • It allows you to reflect on your research, teaching philosophy, and methods of teaching.
  • You need it for job applications, tenure review, or promotions processes.
  • It gives you a way to document teaching and research abilities over time.
Steps to getting started
(or, a nice artsy rhyming list of verbs)
  1. Project. What do you want your portfolio to show about you?
  2. Collect. Begin to identify the materials you need to accomplish this.
  3. Select. Choose only those materials that will be most effective in presenting your strengths, or start developing new material.
  4. Reflect. Think about why you've selected each document. What does it say about you? Does it fit with the vision in step one?
How is it evaluated?

Some of the things that may be assessed include:
  • knowledge of subject
  • preparation
  • enthusiasm
  • ability to foster participation
  • setting of high standards for oneself
  • methods of evaluation
  • effective communication
  • accessibility
  • reputation
  • innovative methods
  • adequacy of evidence
Your academic biography
(or, the first 'what')
  • career goals, mission statement
  • teaching philosophy
  • research prospectus (recent, current, and future research interests)
  • thesis abstract or chapter
  • academic writing samples
  • grant proposal and funding applications/approvals
  • transcripts, academic awards
  • certificates of honour or awards
  • copies of evaluations from workshops and presentations you did
  • list of courses taught, course syllabuses
Career development
(or, the second 'what')
  • copy of CV/resume
  • demonstrated list of skill sets/competencies (use SAR: Situation, Action, Result)
  • letters of recommendation from previous employers, volunteer work, co-op placements, etc
  • teaching evaluations
  • company announcements of promotions, awards, achievements
Special talents
(or, the third 'what')
  • writing samples
  • videos of displays of your work
  • teaching or coaching lesson plans, etc
  • posters from presentations
  • audio/video of teaching
  • research skills: project descriptions, papers, lab reports...
Co-curricular activities
(or, the fourth 'what')
  • newspaper articles: volunteering, project organization, community, ...
  • professional memberships, committees
  • letters of recommendation, thank-you notes
Philosophy statements
(or, the fifth 'what')
  • first person, 1-2 pages
  • beliefs and view of purpose and power of teaching
  • teaching goals
  • learning goals for students
  • where to improve
  • new areas/approaches/styles you can bring to the table
See a great example of a teaching philosophy from a Carleton prof.

Recommended book

I haven't read this myself, but it was recommended in the workshop: The Academic Portfolio.

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