Book by Peter Seldin & J. Elizabeth Miller
Review by Monica Kempland
Pre-professional Health Studies
Saint Louis University

Developing and maintaining an effective professional academic portfolio is more important than ever as budget demands call for greater accountability. Empirical data and evidence of valuable yet meaningful research, scholarship, teaching and service can have a profound impact on personnel decision-making. Seldin and Miller indicate that academic portfolios “may prove to be the most innovative and promising faculty evaluation and development technique in years” (p. x).

The Academic Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Documenting Teaching, Research, and Service is an excellent resource for faculty and administrators seeking information on implementing or reviewing the assessment of academic performance. The authors provide general recommendations and highlight the benefits of utilizing academic portfolios as a means to improve the evaluative process as they  underscore that the primary purpose of developing and maintaining these portfolios to “improve teaching, research and service performance” (p. 6). Seldin and Miller emphasize that a well-developed academic portfolio provides a rich, in-depth examination of an individual’s professional career in ways that a vitae cannot adequately convey. Though one may develop an academic portfolio working alone, the authors strongly suggest that collaboration with colleagues or supervisors will enhance the process and the final product. Their advice regarding mentoring and collaboration in preparation of the portfolio is also extremely valuable.

Though the book cites “faculty members, department chairs, deans and members of tenure committees” (p. xi) as its intended audience, both faculty and staff advising professionals will find value in the clear examples and strategies outlined throughout this work. As more academic advising units are searching for creative and effective ways to assess the effectiveness of their programs, administrators or professional development committees may wish to consider the implementation of professional portfolios as a means of documenting success within their departments. Seldin and Miller provide excellent recommendations that would also prove useful for advisors in creating a professional academic portfolio in consideration of promotions, annual performance reviews, or for those in a career transition. The authors also suggest that graduate students may find benefit in creating an academic portfolio in preparation for the competitive job market (p. 9).

One of the main strengths of this work is the excellent compendium of 18 sample portfolios from 16 disciplines that represent a variety of institutions. Additionally, advisors new to creating an academic portfolio will appreciate the authors’ specific guidance regarding the selection of contents, appropriate length, and organizational structure of an academic portfolio. Though the practical advice and specific examples are some of the most helpful features of this guide, readers will gain a better understanding of the intrinsic value that academic portfolios serve in promoting self-reflection and improvement in teaching, research and scholarship.

The Academic Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Documenting Teaching, Research, and Service. (2008). Book by Peter Seldin & J. Elizabeth Miller. Review by Monica Kempland. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 384 pp. $35.00. ISBN # 9780470256992
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