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School of Medicine Policy on Teaching Portfolios

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


A teaching portfolio is a collection of materials documenting a faculty member’s teaching performance. The contents of each portfolio are highly diverse. They are generated out of that faculty member’s own instructional activities and reflect his/her personal interests and emphases. At any given time, the portfolio contains multiple items of evidence a faculty member brings together to document that s/he is a competent or excellent teacher. A faculty member constructing a portfolio does so continuously, entering materials and information into the portfolio as they are generated. Teaching portfolios can serve both a formative purpose–to improve a faculty member’s teaching–and a summative purpose–to provide a bases for promotion and/or tenure decisions. A teaching portfolio is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The contents of even the most complete portfolio must be carefully reviewed by qualified evaluators, usually a panel of peers, to determine each faculty member’s level of achievement as a teacher.


We propose that the teaching portfolio be the basis for establishing “excellence” and “satisfactory competence” in teaching for promotion and tenure decisions in the School of Medicine. The portfolio would contain a comprehensive and authentic set of materials and data available to support a rational and consistent evaluation of a faculty member’s teaching. All faculty members in the promotion pathway will maintain a teaching portfolio since all will need to document at least a basic degree of achievement in teaching in order to be promoted and/or receive tenure. Other faculty members will use excellence in teaching as one of the two areas on which their case for promotion primarily rests. For these faculty members, the portfolio contents would be more extensive and the criteria used in their assessment would be more exacting.

The multiple pieces of information and documentation in a complete teaching portfolio will help ensure that each faculty member’s teaching is evaluate fairly. Each faculty member will have the opportunity to participate actively in the process, building a case in support of the quality of his/her teaching. The criteria for excellence, and adequacy, in teaching will be clearer than they are at present. Use of multiple information sources will help ensure that evaluations of teaching effectiveness are not reduced to assessments of popularity. The ongoing maintenance of the portfolio will ease the periods of intense documentation (often in search of information that is very hard to find) that immediately precede promotion decisions.

The subcommittee recommends the following policy on the implementation of teaching portfolios. The subcommittee has sought to design a system that entails a reasonably low level of effort while, at the same time, providing a sound basis for these important decisions.

The UNC Board of Governors (BOG) has generated a set of requirements (Administrative Memorandum 338 dated September 28, 1993) relating to promotion of tenure-track faculty. Implementation of the teaching portfolio as described in this document would meet the BOG requirements that relate specifically to evaluation of teaching (item 1c). Because the teaching portfolio implementation would entail an annual review of each faculty member’s teaching, adoption of this proposal could also address the BOG requirement that criteria for evaluation of faculty performance be discussed at specific times with each faculty member being reviewed for reappointment and tenure.

Recommended General Policies

  1. Teaching portfolios would be primarily used in support of the promotion/tenure process. A secondary use would be for annual reviews of faculty. As such, creation and maintenance of a teaching portfolio would be required of all tenure track faculty who are in the promotion pathway, but optional for others.
  2. Generation and maintenance of portfolios would begin in the 1994-95 academic year. Portfolios would be generated prospectively. Faculty members already in the promotion pathway would not be required to reconstruct their past activities at the level of detail described below.
  3. Each faculty member’s portfolio will contain a core set of required elements. Faculty members will make choices of what elements to include when constructing the remainder of the portfolio. Specific additional elements of the portfolio may, however, be made mandatory by a faculty member’s department.
  4. It is essential to keep the portfolios concise, so they can be thoughtfully reviewed and evaluated in a reasonable amount of time. To accomplish this, some elements will have page limits and faculty members will be encouraged not to add extraneous information to the portfolio.
  5. Each faculty member’s evolving teaching portfolio will be the basis of an annual review of the teaching activities of each faculty member in the promotion pathway. This review could be conducted by the department chair, division chief, or a senior faculty member designated by the chair or chief. Through these reviews, the portfolio can serve a formative function, helping faculty members to improve their teaching.
  6. The information comprising the teaching portfolio will exist in two physical locations. All material pertaining to evaluation of a faculty member’s teaching by learners and peers will be collected and maintained by the faculty member’s department. All other materials will be maintained by the faculty member him/herself.
  7. The School of Medicine will provide support to faculty members generating and maintaining portfolios, in the following ways:
    • The school will establish an advisory system to complement the advise from within each faculty member’s department.
    • The school will develop a document providing guidance and suggestions for faculty members on portfolio preparation.
    • A formal orientation for new faculty members will include orientation to the teaching portfolio.

Portfolio Contents

A. Required Elements

  1. Documentation of Teaching Activities: A core element of all portfolios will be a listing, with a measure of extent, of all teaching activities (including traditional instruction, teaching in a clinical and lab context, advising, workshops and continuing education, etc.). The School of Medicine will create a comprehensive guide to help faculty members report these activities for each academic year. Such a report will be completed annually by all faculty members maintaining portfolios.
  2. Reflective statement: The reflective statement will contain the faculty member’s philosophy and goals as a teacher, an assessment of his/her success as a teacher over a specific time period, areas needing improvement, and plans for improvement. This part of the portfolio allows the faculty member to explain how the portfolio is tailored to personal interests, departmental priorities, and the types of teaching that are customary in his/her discipline. This will be a requirement only of faculty using excellence in teaching as a promotion criterion, optional for others, and will be written when the faculty member is considered for promotion. The reflective statement is designed to put the contents of the portfolio in a meaningful context. It will not, itself, be directly scored or rated. The statement will have a three page limit, using NIH criteria for font size and margins. It need not be that long.
  3. Peer and Learner Evaluations of Teaching: This includes evaluations of the faculty member’s teaching by learners (medical, graduate, undergraduate students; residents; fellows) as well as evaluations of the faculty member’s teaching by peers who have observed the faculty member. While evaluation by both peers and learners is required, the extent and format of the data that are required will e determined by the faculty member’s department. These evaluations will derive from ongoing teaching evaluation efforts established within each department. Data collection and maintenance will be a departmental function. Typically, the department will select appropriate, representative pieces of this information for incorporation into the teaching portfolio at the time of consideration for promotion and for discussion at the annual review.
    • Departments vary in the extensiveness of their current teaching evaluation activities. For some departments it will be necessary to expand these activities. To assist these departments, consultation will be available on request form the Office of Educational Development.

B. Optional Elements

The following is a partial list of materials individual faculty members may elect to add to their portfolios.
Material Created by the Individual Teacher

  1. Representative course syllabi which detail objectives, teaching methods, and bibliography.
  2. Instructional materials (text, visuals, video, computer-based) personally or collaboratively developed.
  3. Videotapes of teaching by the faculty member in clinical, laboratory, and other non-didactic settings.
  4. Evaluation/assessment materials developed.
  5. Reports of any studies conducted by the faculty member relating to medical, graduate, or undergraduate education.

Material Generated by Others

  1. Statements from colleagues (both on- and off-campus) who have reviewed educational materials developed by the faculty member.
  2. Invitations to lecture/teach at other institutions or at professional conferences.

Products of Teaching

  1. Learners’ scores on examination items and/or performance rating scales directly related to the faculty member’s teaching.
  2. Research reports or papers/presentations created by individuals taught by this faculty member.
  3. Record of learners who succeed in advanced study.
  4. Statements from graduates or supervisors about he instructor’s influence on their careers. (To preserve confidentiality, these will be requested by the department and maintained by the department.)

Use of Portfolios in the Promotion Process

Faculty members’ portfolios will be formally evaluated by the School only at the time of promotion/tenure decisions and the renewal of probationary contracts. For this purpose, the faculty member and his/her chair will select the most important elements of the portfolio for submission to these committees, crating a “reduced portfolio.” Departmental and school promotion committees will use the reduced portfolio as the primary basis for their decisions about the excellence of a faculty member’s teaching. They may, of course, consult the full portfolio and request additional materials as necessary.

There are six broad areas in which a faculty member’s teaching may be judged to be excellent, satisfactory, or less than satisfactory.

  1. Leadership of educational programs (broadly interpreted to include programs in medical/graduate/allied health/undergraduate/dental/pharmacy/nursing/public health, initiation o new course or seminars, course/clerkship/residency/graduate program directorship, directorship of continuing education programs, etc.).
  2. Quality of teaching as judged by peers, including peers who have directly observed the faculty member.
  3. Quality of teaching as judged by learners and as collected by routine departmental procedures which respect the confidentiality of the learners.
  4. Innovation/scholarship in education (introduction of innovative ideas and techniques, creation of instructional materials, initiation of/participation in funded projects relating to education, publications and presentations about teaching).
  5. National reputation as a teacher.
  6. Extent of participation in teaching, mentoring, and/or advising.

The final judgments, in each case, about overall excellence in teaching will be made by the relevant promotion committees in the department and the school. We would offer as a general guideline that faculty members judged to be excellent, overall, in the area of teaching will have been rated as “excellent” in at least two of the above areas and at least satisfactory in the other areas, on the basis of the evidence furnished in the teaching portfolio.

March 3, 1994
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Medicine