Best Teaching Practices: Course Portfolios

Best Practices


A course portfolio is an organized means of tracking teaching strategies in a specific course over a semester. Its purpose is to save time and effort by providing a faculty member with the opportunity to record and map the effectiveness of any piece of a course design.

Good reasons for using a course portfolio:

  • It saves time.
  • It consolidates effort.
  • It preserves the creative insights that occur daily and that may be forgotten just as quickly.
  • It provides a template for painless course re-design.
  • It establishes a record of teaching innovation and success that can contribute to a teaching portfolio for professional advancement.


Nothing about the content of a course portfolio is new to any instructor; it is simply a tool that helps instructors take advantage of their own creativity. The portfolio belongs exclusively to the instructor and is intended to function formatively, not summatively because it emphasizes the process of pedagogical development.

There are three standard parts to the effective portfolio:

  1. Course components
  2. Student Evaluation
  3. Reflection


Course components
include all the material that support the course: syllabus, assignments (in and outside of class), tests, handouts. Of critical importance is a description of all the objectives for the course.

Student evaluations include any reports of student performance; statistical reporting is especially helpful for an assessment overview.

Reflection includes all thoughts the instructor has on the effectiveness of any aspect of the course.

How is this done?

Easily. Every component of the course is added to the portfolio when it is distributed to the class so that the instructor has a chronological map of how these materials are integrated.

Use these logs and reflection forms as a guide:

Note: the files require the latest version of Acrobat Reader, which is available as a free download.

At the end of the semester the instructor has a complete and holistic picture of the course, ideally bracketed by objectives at the beginning of the portfolio and assessment of how those objectives were achieved at the end.

Feel free to adapt the forms available and let me know how they work or do not work for you. 

    Contact Information

    For more information about the Center for Teaching Excellence, please contact:

    Becky Kasper, Ph.D., Director
    SUNY Plattsburgh
    301 Feinberg Library, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
    Phone: (518) 564-3043
    Fax: (518) 564-5100
    E-mail: kasperrb@plattsburgh.edu