Centre for Teaching and Learning
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Frequently Asked Questions

1.       What is a teaching portfolio?

A teaching portfolio is the “story" of you as a teaching professional and of your teaching practice. It consists of two main divisions: a) a reflective narrative about your teaching, your students' learning and your professional learning, and b) appendices with exemplars to substantiate your narrative.


2.       Why should I have a teaching portfolio?

  • A teaching portfolio is first and foremost a reflection tool to enhance your teaching practice. To create a portfolio, you have to think back about what you have done and try to change or correct past actions for your teaching in the present and the future. You therefore have to analyse and interpret your teaching experiences, thinking critically about all aspects of your teaching and how you could enhance your teaching practice.

  • Your portfolio shows how you see the relation between teaching and learning with regard to your teaching practice. It also shows the development of your teaching over time. Creating a portfolio is thus an effective way to learn about yourself as a teaching professional.  

  • You will need a teaching portfolio to:

  • apply for promotion;

  • apply for a University or national teaching award; or

  • complete your annual performance appraisal.


3.       What do I put in a portfolio?

Your portfolio should include three major areas of academic work:

  • Your teaching and educational development;

  • Your scholarship and professional learning; and

  • Your contributions to the university and the community.

You should include some evidence of your participation and reflection in each of these areas, although at any point in your academic career your work is likely to have a greater focus on some areas than on others.

Your portfolio should consist of the following elements, in the sequence given below:

  1. An abbreviated CV that focuses on your teaching

  2. A reflective narrative comprising:

    1. Your teaching context;

    2. Teaching philosophy statement;

    3. Teaching methods, strategies and activities;

    4. Curricula;

    5. Assessment of student learning;

    6. Contributions to the department, university and community; and

    7. Professional learning.

  3. Appendices containing supplemental materials that document or support the information you provide in your narrative, e.g. student feedback, student success rates, and peer evaluations (internal and external moderators, a colleague, etc.). You would also include representative examples of module frameworks, content, assessment and teaching activities.


4.       How should I structure my portfolio?

The portfolio consists broadly of your reflective narrative and appendices as outlined under (3) above. The elements of the portfolios are put into the sequence mentioned above.

5.       What is a teaching philosophy statement?

A teaching philosophy statement is a reflective narrative that forms the framework of your portfolio, its “golden thread", as it were. It articulates your personal philosophy about teaching and your students' learning and includes your teaching and learning beliefs, goals, values and practices. 

There are three particularly important points to bear in mind:

  • Your teaching philosophy statement should not “showcase" you as a perfect teacher. You need to show both your failures and successes, and especially how your failures lead to your successes. You therefore need to track your development as a teacher.

  • Your philosophy should be linked to the literature about teaching in higher education.

  • Your philosophy should refer to the other components of your portfolio.

A teaching philosophy statement should be approximately two pages long.

A helpful resource is Trinity College Dublin's “Writing a teaching philosophy statement" (https://www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/resources/teaching-philosophy-statements/ ).


6.       May I include letters of recommendation?

Yes. You may include up to two letters of recommendation from students, peers, your departmental chair, external moderators, etc. in an appendix. Reference these letters in your narrative.

 7.       May I include student feedback?

You may select two or three examples of student feedback and place it in an appendix. If your narrative specifically refers to student feedback which was a learning experience for you, you could include that feedback in an appendix.

​8.       How long should my portfolio be?

Generally speaking, a teaching portfolio should be no longer than 50 pages. Your narrative should be approximately 20 pages and your appendices approximately 30 pages.

9.       Do I include my CV?

You may include an abbreviated CV of approximately 2 pages that focuses on your teaching. The CV is placed at the beginning of the portfolio.

10.   What format should my portfolio have?

You may compile your portfolio in either a Word/pdf or an electronic format. If you are applying for an award or for promotion, you may need to bear specific requirements in mind.

More information about available electronic formats is available elsewhere in this portfolio resource.

11.   Where can I get help?

Please contact the CTL advisor in your Faculty or email Dr Karin Cattell at kcattell@sun.ac.za.