Teaching Portfolios

Valuable Tools for Academic Physicians to Document
Professional Accomplishments and Teaching Effectiveness

Many institutions of higher learning require faculty members to maintain a teaching portfolio, and these documents often play a prominent role in faculty appointments. Even if you are not required to keep a portfolio, the TMA Subcommittee for Academic Physicians encourages physicians involved in academic medicine to consider the benefits. Teaching portfolios are an academic physician’s “body of evidence” − a centralized source for documenting professional accomplishments, professional development, and teaching philosophies. Similar to an artist’s portfolio, a teaching portfolio allows scholars to showcase their best work in a compact, user-friendly format.     

Potential Uses
Teaching portfolios can be a valuable tool for educators in accomplishing a variety of professional activities, including:   

  • Seeking a promotion, negotiating a raise, or pursuing a new faculty appointment;
  • Creating or updating your curriculum vitae;
  • Conducting an annual performance review;
  • Setting professional goals;
  • Writing a biographical sketch;
  • Demonstrating teaching effectiveness;
  • Documenting progress for sharing with your mentor or advisor;
  • Applying for a teaching award; and
  • Submitting a grant proposal.

Given the variety of ways that portfolios can be used, physician educators may want to consider maintaining several versions, with each tailored to meet specific goals and objectives. Portfolios share some core aspects of curricula vitae in the sense that they facilitate the recording of major professional accomplishments, awards, or milestones, in a single document. But portfolios also go a step further by encouraging educators to reflect on and document the philosophies and motivational factors that influence their teaching. This helps faculty members track professional development throughout their careers.

 Major Activity Areas
Through a review of current literature on teaching portfolios by subcommittee members, five major activity topics were most often found among recommended templates. These topics were also defined as common standards by experts who gathered at an Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Educational Affairs Consensus Conference on Educational Scholarship in 2006. The subcommittee recommends that educators consider the following five major activity areas as a potential guide for portfolios:

  1. Direct Teaching
  2. Curriculum Development and Instructional Design
  3. Advising and Mentoring
  4. Learner Assessment
  5. Scholarly Approach to Education

Don’t Forget Examples Reflective of Your Accomplishments and Perspectives on Teaching 
To round out your portfolio, the subcommittee recommends adding specific examples of your accomplishments and perspectives on teaching. It is best to keep these to a manageable number by being highly selective in the materials you choose to include. The subcommittee suggests the following as attachments for each of the five major activity areas. 

  1. Description of teaching philosophy (e.g., role as a teacher, theory of learning, characteristics of good teachers, or role/responsibility of learners).
  2. List of intramural teaching activities, such as:
    • Formal courses/lectures/continuing medical education, teaching rounds, clinical didactic and bedside sessions, small group learning experience or problem-based learning sessions, seminars, journal club leadership, one-on-one teaching sessions, editorial assistance to students, supervision and advising students or others, preparation/administration of board exams, evaluator for clinical examinations, and membership on committees related to education. 
  1. Listing of extramural teaching activities, such as:
    • Visiting professorships, invited lectures and educational presentations at regional/national meetings, and development of patient educational materials. 
  1. Assessment of teaching, such as:
    • Summary of or reference to student evaluations, peer evaluations, departmental reviews, and letters of support (solicited or not solicited).
  1. Awards for teaching and medical education and activities undertaken to improve teaching.

Keep It Current 
Finally, to maximize the benefits of a portfolio, the content needs to be current. Set up regular reminders for yourself to alert you to incorporate updates and purge outdated material.

Get Started Today! 
The subcommittee encourages you to get started on a teaching portfolio ASAP. What’s more, encourage new faculty to begin formulating their portfolios soon after their appointment. The earlier you get started in your academic career, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits of this important reference document.

Other Resources and Examples of Teaching Portfolios

  1. The University of Texas Medical Branch Academy of Master Teachers Educator Portfolio www.utmb.edu/amt/default.asp.
  2. Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Academy of Distinguished Educators. https://www.utmb.edu/amt/educator-information/educator-portfolio
  3. Educator's Portfolio. University of California, San Francisco, The Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators. Published October 19, 2011.
  4. Baldwin CD, Gusic M, and Chandran L. Leadership Lesson: The Educator Portfolio: A Tool for Career Development. Association of American Medical Colleges.
  5. Educator Portfolio: Template. American Pediatric Association Educational Scholars Program, 2010. (Note: template can be downloaded and adapted for individual institutional needs and has been peer reviewed and published to Association of American Medical Colleges’s MedEdPORTAL.)
  6. Hafler JP, Blanco MA, Fincher RM, Lovejoy FH, Morzinski J. Chap. 14 in Fincher, RM (Ed.) Guidebook for Clerkship Directors (5th ed.) Alliance for Clinical Education, 2019. (Note:Document provides extensive references for documentation of scholarly accomplishments; however, some embedded weblinks are no longer active.)
  7. Simpson D, Fincher RM, Hafler JP, Irby DM, Richards BF, Rosenfeld GC, Viggiano TR. Advancing Educators and Education: Defining the Components and Evidence of Educational Scholarship. Proceedings from the American Association of Medical Colleges Group on Educational Affairs Consensus Conference on Educational Scholarship, February 9-10, 2006, Charlotte, NC. Washington DC: Association of American Medical Colleges; 2007.
  8. Fincher RM, Simpson DE, Mennin SP, Rosenfeld GC, Rothman A, McGrew MC, Hansen PA, Mazmanian, PE, Turnbull JM. Scholarship in Teaching: an Imperative for the 21st Century .Acad Med. 2000;75(9):887-894.
  9. Kirkpatrick DL, Kirkpatrick JD. Evaluating Training Programs (3rd ed). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009.
  10. Musick DW. A Conceptual Model for Program Evaluation in Graduate Medical Education. Acad Med. 2006;81(8):759-765.
  11. Miller GE. The Assessment of Clinical Skills/Competence/Performance. Acad Med.1990;65(9);S63-S67.
  12. Glassick CE. Boyer's Expanded Definitions of Scholarship, the Standards for Assessing Scholarship, and the Elusiveness of the Scholarship of Teaching. Acad Med. 2000;75(9):877-880.


Subcommittee for Academic Physicians main page

Last Updated On

February 28, 2022

Originally Published On

August 13, 2012