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Amherst College, Greenfield Community College, Hampshire College, Holyoke Community College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Springfield Technical Community College, University of Massachusetts; School Systems of Amherst, Franklin County, Hadley, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield

Creating a STEMTEC Course Portfolio

There are three primary purposes for STEMTEC Course Portfolios.
  1. Documentation: The STEMTEC Course Portfolios will provide a record of the way in which the course has been changed and of the course change process.

  2. Evaluation: STEMTEC Course Portfolios can be used as part of the formative evaluation done by instructors on their own teaching, and will demonstrate to NSF the successes and challenges of our attempts to improve undergraduate education in mathematics and the sciences.

  3. Dissemination: STEMTEC Course Portfolios can also be used for dissemination purposes, both locally and nationally. They will also help to sustain the effort after funding ends.

The curriculum team portfolio brainstorming session at the February 7 workshop produced several models for the portfolio. In general, they suggest that a course portfolio have two different types of information:

  1. a collection of materials that represent the goals, approaches, and instructional and evaluation methods of the course

  2. reflections by the instructor and possibly by the students on the course.
The model produced by the biology team (appended below with the other team reports) has the most detailed description of what may be included in the reflective portion of the STEMTEC Course Portfolio.


Portfolio Guidelines Brainstorm list from summer '97 Biology team

submitted by Merle Bruno

We see this as having two parts:

I. a collection of material selected from the list below that represents the goals and approaches to reaching them taken in the course.

II. a short reflective essay addressing the points listed below

Both lists are seen as guidelines; not all items are appropriate for all courses, and additional items may be added that we didn't think of.

There was not agreement in the group about the amount of material that should be submitted. Some felt that the portfolios should contain details of assignments, activities, etc. and others felt that very selective examples should be sufficient. We thought that decision should be left up to individuals for the first go-round to see which is most useful for the purposes of the portfolio.

Our understanding is that the portfolios have two roles:

  1. for ourselves to help us understand better what worked and what to do differently next time

  2. for others interested in attempting similar reforms in their classes
So, here goes the list

I. Descriptive/Reflective piece

a. Goals the instructor(s) had in terms of STEMTEC changes: this should include innovations in class structure and K-12 connections

b. Reflections on what actually happened:

c. In summary,

II. Items that may be useful documentation (not all for all classes and in no particular order):

Course description from catalogue

Syllabus (including assignments, explanations to students about course structure/requirements, lab schedule, field trips, etc.)

Results that you wish to share of ongoing evaluations--this may include formal STEMTEC evaluations, informal feedback sheets, end of course evaluation results, student comments about the course, etc.

Comparison data of student performance/attitudes/etc. pre-post in this course or this course compared to previously taught comparable course

Examples of student work if appropriate (but be sparing or excerpt or summarize)

Sample but actual "prompt" questions used in informal cooperative learning or in bookend lectures: examples that worked well and those that fell flat would both be of interest.

Log book or other notes on each lesson about what worked what you'd do differently next time. (some people keep a log that ends up being what the actual syllabus was and that has comments like--"don't do this again" or "next time make sure to....")

Demographics (we were reminded that these are being collected and kept by our campus coordinators, but if you teach a class in which you noticed dramatic differences in the level or quality of participation or attitude of (say) women compared to previous times you taught the course, mention that. Or if some straight science/tech types express a surprising interest in teaching careers, mention that.

Videos that were made of or in or by your class

For K-12 connections: what kinds of teaching, tutoring, joint classes, peer teaching, key pals, etc. did students in your class engage in? Examples of lesson plans, photos, approximate numbers, any other information that would make it real and give ideas to others of things to do (or not do). How did you initiate contacts with the school folks you worked with?

The biologists also want to start collecting sample problems people have used successfully in class. We're looking for quickie 15 min. problems to include in a lecture, home assignments that are ongoing but don't take much class time (grow bean seeds in two different conditions, record and report); puzzlers, demonstrations that promote active learning/problem solving; etc. Lots of specific examples, different time frames, different topics/disciplines....


Suggested contents for course portfolios submitted by the Physics Curriculum Team

submitted by Bill Gerace

The portfolio might contain four major categories of information:

  1. In formation on course content, materials, and style; that is, a syllabus showing the schedule of meetings and material coverage, a list of readings/equipment/maps/etc. with sample materials where appropriate, a description of the pedagogic style and conduct of the class meetings.

  2. Description of course requirements including assignments, exams, papers, etc.

  3. Examples of student work, student comments and/or reflections on the course.

  4. Summary of instructor comments and reflections.

Portfolio Guidelines Brainstorm list from summer '97 Chemistry team

submitted by Ron Archer

A portfolio could consist of the following items:

  1. Course title and catalog or similar description.

  2. A statement of teaching philosophy /methodologies used, which is elaborated sufficiently so that someone not versed in this could get the full flavor of what was actually done.

    If groups were used, a paragraph that indicates the procedure for organizing, modifying, and assessing group work and how well it worked. The latter could consist of statements of what was positive about group work and what were the challenges.

    Any other "STEMTEC" methodologies used and how they worked.

  3. Course syllabus including course outline and criteria for student assessment.

  4. Sample tests and assignments including photocopies of sample student input if novel.

  5. Student and instructor evaluations of the course.

  6. Any K12, community service, or peer teaching connections provided if not included in the above.


Portfolio Guidelines Brainstorm list from summer '97 Math team

submitted by Lauren Brewer

The math team came up with the following suggestions for the items that could be included in a portfolio:

Table of contents
Syllabus
Various student assignments with a paragraph of why the particular assignments were selected.
Group assignment with a paragraph explaining what was a success and what was not. Independent evaluation of the course, e.g., student evaluations, 2+2 evaluation (compliments and suggestions), or MAP.
Student profile
Student reflection sheets or journal entries that respond to questions such as:
"What did you do?"
"How did you do it?"
"Why did you do it?"

Comparison with the course proposal: How close did you follow it? If you made significant changes, why?
Bibliography and resources, including software and Internet resources Tests and assessment tools, and what worked, what didn't work, and why.


Portfolio Guidelines Brainstorm list from summer '97 Geology team

The geology curriculum team came up with the following list of items that could be included in a course portfolio:


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