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Xavier University's Course Portfolio Working Group: Milestones

1997-98: Xavier's first Course Portfolio Working Group (CPWG) formed as a result of grant opportunities provided by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching. At the fall 1997 New Faculty Orientation, a session was given to discussing the scholarship of teaching. Included in the session was an invitation to new faculty members to begin developing course portfolios in collaboration with Xavier colleagues. The same invitation was extended to all University faculty members through the Center's fall newsletter.

During the 1997-1998 academic year, twenty nine faculty members from eleven departments comprised two course portfolio working groups. These two working groups, led by Dr. Todd Stanislav (Biology/CAT Director), included some departmental chairs and a few members of the University Rank and Tenure Committee. A grant to Xavier University from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation supported this project.

Later in the fall 1997 semester, a workshop titled "Course Portfolio Primer: Promises and Pitfalls" was hosted by the Center and presented by Dr. Deborah Langsam of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Langsam was also a member of the American Association for Higher Education's Peer Review of Teaching Project Course Portfolio Working Group, whose purpose was to develop prototypes of course portfolios. In her workshop, Dr. Langsam provided an introduction to course portfolios — what they look like, how they are used, and how faculty could begin developing their own portfolios.

Early paradigm: From the inception of the project until 2004, one type of course portfolio was conceived and produced. Depending on its focus and purpose, it contained a variety of elements clustered around the areas of preparation, process, product, and reflection.

1. Preparation
These are materials generated before the course begins. These materials may include:
  1. a framing statement or cover letter that in one or two pages explains the purpose and the audience of the project
  2. the faculty member's philosophy of teaching
  3. a description of the course in the context of the discipline, curriculum, and institution
  4. the syllabus and its rationale, including strategies, challenges, and approaches to teaching and student learning in the course and the expected outcomes
  5. citations and synopses of journal articles used to design the project.
2. Process
These are materials from others. Some possibilities are:
  1. student evaluations from either forms used by all instructors at an institution or specific assessment tools designed by the instructor for the course
  2. peer observations from classroom visits or colleague reviews of course materials.
3. Product
These are materials generated from the course. Some possibilities are:
  1. materials generated by the students such as essays, lab notebooks, journals, projects, standardized test scores
  2. materials generated by the instructor such as informational or procedural handouts, examples of good, average, and poor student work, student interviews, comparison of course grade distributions before and after implementation.
4. Reflections
These are materials generated by the faculty member him or herself. Some possibilities include:
  1. a summary of how the course unfolded with respect to the original focus
  2. thoughtful commentary on what worked well and what did not
  3. statements concerning possible changes to the course.

1998-99: Thirteen faculty members from eight departments collaborated in developing their course portfolios. Dr. Michael Labranche of the Mathematics Department provided leadership to this group.

2000-01: Fourteen faculty members from eleven departments formed a portfolio working group, supported by a grant to the Center for the Advancement of Teaching from the Bush and William and Flora Hewlett foundations. A veteran of the 1997-98 project, Dr. David Lanoue of the English Department, facilitated this year-long exploration of learning and assessment in particular courses chosen by workshop members. This time around, the group interacted in plenary meetings, small group discussions, and via an electronic WebBoard. Two departmental chairs and one former chair participated.

2001-02: Eight faculty members from seven departments participated in the CPWG. Dr. David Lanoue, Professor of English, led the group.

2002-03: Twelve faculty members from seven departments participated in the CPWG. With Dr. Lanoue assuming new responsibilities as the chair of Xavier's English Department, Dr. Paul Schafer, professor of Philosophy and a veteran participant, ably assumed leadership of the CPWG.

2003-04: Twenty-eight faculty members took part in two course portfolio working groups. Of these, five faculty participated in a new project designed for professors who had already completed a course portfolio and now wished either to expand their original course portfolio (e.g., examine or re-examine a teaching or student learning question, revise student learning outcomes and teaching methods) or develop a new course portfolio. Drs. Paul Schafer (Philosophy) and Deany Cheramie (English) gave leadership to these efforts.

March 2004: Drs. Paul Schafer and Todd Stanislav attended a conference titled "Making Learning Visible: Peer Review and the Scholarship of Teaching," hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Drawing insights from the Peer Review of Teaching Project of the University of Nebraska, Indiana University, Kansas State, University of Michigan, and Texas A&M, the Xavier Course Portfolio team decided, starting with fall 2004 semester, to continue supporting interested in developing the Benchmark Portfolio under the auspices of its Course Portfolios Initiative and the Course Portfolio Working Group. The team also launched a new initiative — the Inquiry into Teaching and Learning Initiative — a teaching and learning research initiative recommended for faculty who have already completed a course portfolio project.

2004-05: Fifteen faculty members participated in the Benchmark group, while four faculty members were involved in the Inquiry into Teaching and Learning Initiative. Drs. Paul Schafer and Robert Berman, both from Xavier's Philosophy Department, led the two projects, respectively.

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