Course Port Top

Course Portfolio Discussion


Almost all of the material in this document was provided by Steve Dunbar, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Compiled and interpreted by Gavin LaRose, then at Nebraska Wesleyan University, now at the University of Michigan Questions or comments to Gavin: glarose@umich.edu.
  1. What is a course portfolio?
  2. What is in a course portfolio?
  3. What do these items accomplish?
  4. How should one go about writing a course portfolio?
  5. What is a course portfolio used for?


1. What is a course portfolio?

A course portfolio is an artifact which documents a course, how it was taught, what it covered, what its objectives were, and how they were accomplished. There are many different reasons for maintaining a course portfolio, including:

A course portfolio may therefore also be a document for peer review and evaluation.


2. What is in a course portfolio?

A course portfolio may include a number of different items to provide "a semester-long window into the course" (--Steve Dunbar). These may include


3. What do these items accomplish?

In the portfolio, one wants to provide a record of what was accomplished in the course, how and why. Therefore, the included items should address the questions


4. How should one go about writing a course portfolio?

The following is not a definitive recipe for a course portfolio--instead, it presents two course portfolio "models" for consideration.

developed by Gavin with reference to materials provided by Steve Dunbar

Model 1


The first items in the portfolio may be most easily developed before the course is taught. These are, from section 2 (What is in a course portfolio), "materials defining and information about the course".

  1. Document the goals for the course. While this may be part of an included syllabus, it may also be a separate document which briefly describes the objectives in both general terms (e.g., as to a dean or provost) and in different levels of greater specificity (e.g., as to a colleague not in the department, and then to a departmental colleague -- who may be teaching the same course).
  2. Document the pedagogical substance in the course: how the course is conducted, what students get out of coming to class, where they will be challenged and how they will overcome the challenges. Explain how what the students learn is measured, and how the standards by which their work is judged relate to this and to other courses (both more introductory and more advanced).
  3. Document the rationale for the course. Again, this may be part of other included documentation. A separate document may describe why the course format was chosen as it was and the motivation for the content---in particular, how does it teach students in the area of the course? How does it connect with other courses? How does the order in which the material is covered connect with the objectives, etc.?
  4. Include syllabi---that handed out to the students, and that documenting what is to be covered in the course and when (if this is not included in the handed out syllabus, as is always the case in my syllabi).
Then, during or after the term,
  1. Include the actual syllabus---what was actually covered.
  2. Include class handouts, labs, tests, project assignments and homework (with solutions), etc.
  3. Include an evaluation of the course: in particular, what worked and what didn't. Also evaluate the degree to which students (or the instructor!) attained the objectives for the course and how this is known.
  4. Include an assessment on how the course should be changed to improve it the next time it is taught. Include specific reference to the pedagogical methods employed.
obtained from a course portfolio assembled by Charlie Hadlock, Mathematics Department, Bentley College

Model 2


This course portfolio consists of:


5. What is a course portfolio used for?

Some of the uses of a course portfolio have been indicated in section 1 (What is a course portfolio). Expanding on the reasons for maintaining documentation on a course, the course portfolio may be used personally and publically:


Course Portfolio Discussion
Last Modified: Sun Aug 13 19:29:47 CDT 2000
Comments to glarose@umich.edu