To explore the state and use of teaching portfolios in promotion and tenure in U.S. medical schools.Method.
A two-phase qualitative study using a Web-based search procedure and telephone interviews was conducted. The first phase assessed the penetration of teaching portfolio-like systems in U.S. medical schools using a keyword search of medical school Web sites. The second phase examined the current use of teaching portfolios in 16 U.S. medical schools that reported their use in a survey in 1992. The individual designated as having primary responsibility for faculty appointments/promotions was contacted to participate in a 30–60 minute interview.Results.
The Phase 1 search of U.S. medical schools’ Web sites revealed that 76 medical schools have Web-based access to information on documenting educational activities for promotion. A total of 16 of 17 medical schools responded to Phase 2. All 16 continued to use a portfolio-like system in 2003. Two documentation categories, honors/awards and philosophy/personal statement regarding education, were included by six more of these schools than used these categories in 1992. Dissemination of work to colleagues is now a key inclusion at 15 of the Phase 2 schools. The most common type of evidence used to document education was learner and/or peer ratings with infrequent use of outcome measures and internal/external review.Conclusions.
The number of medical schools whose promotion packets include portfolio-like documentation associated with a faculty member's excellence in education has increased by more than 400% in just over ten years. Among early-responder schools the types of documentation categories have increased, but students’ ratings of teaching remain the primary evidence used to document the quality or outcomes of the educational efforts reported.