The University Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO), in partnership with the Council on Higher Education/HELTASA conducted a regional seminar on developing Teaching Portfolios for Excellence Awards. The day-long seminar was facilitated by Professor Michael Savage, Dr Rubby Dhunpath, Professor Sarojini Nadar and Ms Rosemary Quilling. The seminar was hosted to address the increasing recognition that teaching excellence awards are one of the ways in which exemplary teaching in higher education is affirmed and rewarded. As a prerequisite for the award process, award nominees are expected to produce a high quality Teaching Portfolio, documenting their scholarly work, teaching innovations and exemplary practices.

The seminar, attended by delegates from UKZN and other universities in the region, was conducted by each of the four facilitators who addressed integral aspects of portfolio development, structure, design and requirements. 

Dr Rubby Dhunpath, as a CHE/HELTASA Committee member, started the seminar outlining how the Commitee evaluates teaching portfolios for the national teaching excellence awards. 

Prof Michael Savage, himself a UKZN and HELTASA/CHE National Excellence in Teaching and Learning awardee, went through a reflective demonstration of his successful development and implementation of his open-web based AIM system, or interdisciplinary teaching and mobile learning system for non-English first language students. Not only did he offer evaluative feedback data from students and peers, he also delved into the positive outcomes of the AIM system of expanded research and outputs of the AIM system. 

After the exemplar of a successful teaching portfolio was presented, Ms Rosemary Quilling, herself a UKZN and HELTASA/CHE National Excellence in Teaching and Learning awardee, delved into a teaching portfolio as both a response and a catalyst for mindful teaching. She offered guidelines for developing a teaching portfolio, unpacking the national guidelines, which required the applicant to critically reflect on the context, the students, the nature of knowledge, and growth. She expounded on the reflective aspects necessary in developing a teaching portfolio, such as questioning one’s assumptions, collection of evidence and professional awareness. 

Professor Sarojini Nadar, the key facilitator for the day, went through the purpose and presentational components of a teaching portfolio. She impressed on the participants the importance of packaging and presenting evidence of one’s teaching through a teaching statement which consistently aligns with, and reflectively demonstrates one’s teaching philosophy. Before attending the seminar, delegates had to compile a 500 word teaching statement, which Professor Nadar then worked through in order to provide formative feedback and cover the four primary components, which should comprise a teaching statement: teaching philosophy, evaluations, samples of work and feedback and critical reflection from students and peers.

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