Teaching portfolios pose opportunities and challenges to both those who are asked to create them and those who must review them. For example, because they are more qualitative in nature than other sources of information, teaching portfolios are likely to be more difficult to evaluate objectively. When they are used for summative purposes, it may be difficult for committees on promotion and tenure to compare the contents of one faculty member’s portfolio with those of another’s. Recognizing this challenge, AAHE is now sponsoring a multiyear initiative to examine the most effective ways of developing and utilizing information in teaching portfolios for teacher evaluation and ongoing professional development.11 In addition, AAHE recently acquired and posted on the World Wide Web “The Portfolio Clearinghouse,” a database of some 30 portfolio projects from a variety of types of colleges and universities around the world. This database provides information about portfolios as a means of demonstrating student learning, effective teaching, and institutional self-assessment.12 Another recent product of AAHE’s ongoing project on teaching portfolios is a series of papers (Cambridge, 2001) that provides guidance to faculty members, departments, and institutions wishing to maintain electronic portfolios.


To supplement descriptive information, faculty who engage in self-review reflect on their accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses as instructors. Research has shown that self-evaluation can be helpful in summative personnel decisions by providing context for the interpretation of data from other sources. For example, a faculty member may have a particularly difficult class or may be teaching a course for the first time. Or she or he may be experimenting with new teaching methods that may result in both improved student learning and retention and lower student ratings (Hutchings, 1998).

The committee found that much of the research on self-evaluation has focused on instructors rating their teaching performance rather than simply describing or reflecting on it. One analysis indicated that self-evaluations did not correlate with evaluations by current students, colleagues, or administrators, although the latter three groups agreed in high measure with one another (Feldman, 1989). At the same


Additional information is available at <http://www.aahe.org/teaching/portfolio_projects.htm>.


This database is available at <http://www.aahe.org/teaching/portfolio_db.htm>.

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