"I am not a well man.... I think my liver is diseased." No, wrong novel.
"Being of sound mind and body...." No, not ready for that yet--even though I am past "l'an trentieme de mon age...."
Neither a journal nor a testament, this is, rather, a demonstration--a portable display, as its name would have it--of who I am as a professor. Like Dostoievski's pensioner, I do not care if this work is ever seen by anyone else; it is the working itself which is the purpose. Its audience is (at least in the first instance) the cast of characters in my head. I set out here to demonstrate, to myself if no one else, that I am engaged in the ...act? art? profession? of teaching and scholarship.
My portfolio is an act of reflective practice, more than the product of evaluation. Like a summative evaluation, it focuses on what has been done more than how it was done. I do this to liberate my exploration of process, to give it greater scope. Were I to focus on the means I've used, it would force me to regiment the process, to pin the butterfly to the display card (as it were). The portfolio is a statement of what I have done--by whatever means. It presumes evaluation, since I cannot demonstrate what I've done without first considering what it is that I have done. But it is both more and less than evaluation. It is representative rather than exhaustive. The elements in the portfolio are selected because they are interesting in themselves and instructive about me as a teacher, rather than trying to present a balanced sampling of everything I do. Each item is treated in its singularity, yet each carries a lifetime of experiences which led up to it. The portfolio is also a spiritual discipline. I expect my students to demonstrate to me that they have accomplished thework of the class and the work of the program; turnabout is fair play. This portfolio is sauce for the gander.
The issue of evaluation in a professional portfolio is a vexed one on several counts.
First is the issue of whether an evaluation should focus on process or outcomes. Presumably, the point of teaching is to bring about some change in the student and that should be the ultimate measure of the success of one's work. But those outcomes are determined by so much more than one's own work, and so often do not become apparent until long after the student has left, that it is difficult either to identify the causal chain leading back to one's teaching or to obtain accurate measurement. The process which goes into teaching is easier to observe and the linkages are easier to follow, but the results are also less interesting and such a process works against innovation and risk-taking in teaching.
The second issue is whether to use qualitative or quantitative measures, whether of process or outcomes. Qualitative measures are easier to assemble (no small matter when there is no budget--of time or money--set aside for evaluation), and provide more of the unique flavor of the various activities. On the other hand, quantitative measures are more easily compared, across time and across activities, although they lose what is unique to each activity.
The third issue is whether the portfolio should itself be a presentation of one's work for the reader to evaluate as s/he sees fit, or if one shold "guide" the reader by suggesting dimensions (and measures) of evaluation. All the hype in the world on the dust jacket of a new book is no substitute for one's own critical evaluation of its contents.
In this portfolio, I have taken the position that the work should speak for itself, although I have provided a variety of materials (quantitative and qualitative, process and outcome) which might assist the reader. For those who prefer a more direct approach to evaluation, here follows a list of exhibits in the portfolio which might simplify the process: