The Course Portfolio
Unlike a teaching portfolio, which typically includes essential course documents such as the syllabus, sample assignments, examinations, and evaluations, this course portfolio is instead a more holistic investigation of every aspect of the course. Although they vary greatly from one individual to another, course portfolios typically all document the process of course design, include narration and analysis of the unfolding of the course itself, present significant examples of student learning, and the offer the author (and the students) the opportunity for reflection on what happens during the semester.
The number of faculty developing course portfolios grows every day. As Mary Taylor Huber pointed out in a paper she gave at the American Historical Associations national conference in Seattle (1998), course portfolios are part of an emerging scholarship of teaching, as articulated by the late Ernest Boyer in his Scholarship Reconsidered (1990).  For a course portfolio to be something that Boyer would have recognized as "scholarship," it must contain several important characteristics: it must be open to public scrutiny, it must be structured in such a way that others can offer critical review and evaluation, and it must be available to other members of ones scholarly community for their use and elaboration.
Because teaching is typically a very private activity, only rarely reviewed by small numbers of peers and almost never by someone outside ones own institution, portfolios such as this one represent an important departure from past practice. By reading this portfolio you have access to all aspects of my course short of visiting my classroom, can draw your own conclusions about what worked, what did not and why, and can add your own comments to the site.
Course portfolios have an additional benefit to the instructor because they offer an alternative to the most typical form of evaluation of someones teaching--the student evaluation form. At my own institution that form has only three questions and so there is not much that I or others can learn about my teaching from the data generated by those surveys.
Samples of course portfolios created by other historians can be found in such locations as the American Historical Assocations Course Portfolio Project, and at the Crossroads Project of the American Studies Association. Because the genre is still in its infancy, wide variation in style, detail and emphasis exist. If you have comments or suggestions about the structure or style of this portfolio, I hope you will pass them on to me.
The Quick and Dirty: If all you are interested in is a brief account of my objectives for this course and what the conclusions were, simply follow the two links imbedded in this sentence. Otherwise, you can proceed to the Executive Summary that offers a more detailed overview of the portfolio and which includes various navigation links to each section of the larger site. Within the larger site you will find not only narrative description of the unfolding of the course and illustrative samples of student work, but also various evaluations I collected during the year.
Comments: An essential feature of the scholarship of teaching is that our work must be public and open to review by our peers. In that spirit, I hope you will take the opportunity to send me comments, criticisms, and ideas that come to you as navigate this site. A comment form is available here and e-mail certainly works well. Good old snail mail works just as well, and if you choose the latter method, my mailing address is: T. Mills Kelly, Department of History and Art History, George Mason University, Farifax, VA 22030. My fax number is 703-993-2152.
From here, the next logical place to go is my description of the course design. But, of course, you can follow any of the links in the left margin.