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The Course Portfolio. Danielle Mihram, Director Center for Excellence in Teaching University of Southern California. What is a Course Portfolio?. No single standard formula, but defining features: A focus on the course: From conception to results A spotlight on student learning

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the course portfolio

The Course Portfolio

Danielle Mihram, Director

Center for Excellence in Teaching

University of Southern California

what is a course portfolio
What is a Course Portfolio?
  • No single standard formula, but defining features:
    • A focus on the course: From conception to results
    • A spotlight on student learning
    • A process of scholarly inquiry into approaches to teaching
five practical functions of the course portfolio
Five Practical Functions of the Course Portfolio
  • They serve as an aid to memory
        • What worked, what didn’t?
  • They help in investigating student learning
        • (Are they learning what I am teaching? Are they getting it? What happens to their understanding of the field itself?
  • They are available to others for discussion, feedback, and formal review
  • They are a way of bringing peer recognition of teaching excellence
  • They make a contribution to one’s field by influencing others in the field
what kind of documentation is included in a course portfolio
What kind of documentation is included in a Course Portfolio?
  • Course design (syllabus)
  • Pieces of evidence (this constitutes a wide array which varies from field to field). A few examples:
        • Weekly diary
        • Samples of work that are key to course design (problem sets, artifacts, reflections relating to student art or writing groups, study guides, hardcopy of electronic exchanges with individual students)
        • Videotaped class sessions
        • Peer observations of class sessions
        • Reports from student group work
        • Student projects (paper or electronic)
documentation continued
Documentation (Continued)
  • Evidence of student learning
        • Longitudinal or vertical sampling of student responses to assignments or projects
  • Reflective essays
        • Evaluative summaries of classroom assessment data
        • Reflective essays on the progress of the course
        • In final portion of portfolio: implications and lessons learned
how much documentation is enough
How much documentation is enough?
  • Axiom: An ideal portfolio is both brief and complete
  • Electronic course portfolios are perhaps the the best format currently
        • Randy Bass (Georgetown University)
          • http://georgetown.edu/bassr/portfolio/amlit
        • William W. Cutler III (Temple University)
          • http://wwwtheaha.org/teaching/aahe/aahecover.html
        • The Knowledge Media Laboratory
          • http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/klm/KLM.htm
how do i organize the information
How do I organize the information?
  • A clear table of contents (annotated perhaps)
  • An executive summary (or some kind of overview)
  • Tabs or color-coding to divide sections
how long does it take how will i find the time
How long does it take? How will I find the time?
  • Time required varies from field to field and from individual to individual
    • Ideally, documentation for the course portfolio develops in tandem with the delivery of the course (About an hour of reflective comments per week.).
    • When cumulated the time amounts to approximately 15-20 hours or less.
how do i know when i am on the right track
How do I know when I am “On the Right Track”?
  • If the course is team-taught collaborate with the other colleagues to assemble the course portfolio
  • Find a colleague (or another TA) with similar motivation or ask CET to help you find someone on campus with similar knowledge-base, goals and incentives
  • Faculty usually solicit outside responses (e.g., Bass, Cutler), then build on the process
is it worth my while to spend time on a course portfolio
Is it worth my while to spend time on a course portfolio?
  • Ultimately it is a question of value:
      • How long does it take to conduct research? Is such a question asked in the context of research?
      • Course portfolios should be subject to peer review: is peer-reviewed research worth my time?
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