Why · What to Include · Writing the Rationale · Examples

Why Include Course Materials?

Course materials are powerful indicators of an instructor’s approach to teaching and learning. They are important in supporting in–class experiences, as well as experiences outside the classroom. In preparing to present your course materials, you will want to include materials that have been used well in your courses, and are in line with your philosophy of teaching.

What Could Be Included?

Some of these course materials could include the following:

  • course syllabi
  • course handouts
  • course packets
  • course lesson plans
  • class participation guidelines
  • midcourse feedback instruments
  • tests/quizzes
  • assignments
  • grading rubrics/ feedback on student work
  • journal prompts
  • problem sets
  • reading lists/reading prompts
  • tutorials
  • transparencies/slides
  • software

For many, a course syllabus (or syllabi) is the first logical item to include in this section. Depending on the kind of review for which you are preparing a portfolio, you may need to include several samples. Unless you are instructed to do otherwise, it is best to include a representative set from your most current course syllabi. If you are a graduate student preparing a portfolio for a search committee, you may not have syllabi that you have actually used. You might include one that you construct for this purpose, noting that this is how you would put together the course, given the chance. Whether you are including actual or planned syllabi, write a rationale statement that describes why you organized the course in the way you did.

What else should you choose to include? Think back on your goals. For example, if you stated in your teaching philosophy that active learning is important to you in teaching and learning, then you will want to include course materials that best illustrate this. This could be a handout on guidelines for class participation, or ground rules that you developed for discussion. Given the specialized nature of many course materials, you will want to include a rationale statement that provides the context for their use so that the reviewer can evaluate the appropriateness, basic format, tone, and the like.

Writing the Rationale

A rationale should be written for each item included in your portfolio. Rationales should be short statements (usually one paragraph) that explain why that example of a course handout, test, guide, or other material was used. Each rationale should meet the following criteria:

  • It describes the audience for the material
  • It explains why the material was used
  • It relates how the material was used
  • It discusses the observed effects (e.g., did the material help your students learn?)


The following samples, written by winners of the Graduate Associate Teaching Award at OSU,  present rationales for a variety of course materials.

Course Syllabus
Course Lesson Plan
Tests/ Quizzes
Feedback on Student Work/ Grading