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Unit 2: Creating a Strong Portfolio

Section 2.1: Creating a Strong Career Statement


"How you frame the work is important, especially in research-intensive universities."
Associate Professor

Nearly every academic institution requires its faculty to write a career statement about his or her scholarly work when being considered for promotion and tenure. The name for a career statement can vary by institution, department and area(s) of emphasis (i.e., research statement, practice statement, personal statement, etc) Regardless of the title, the statement is a unique opportunity to communicate your professional vision for your community-engaged scholarship, to frame how your work has made an impact in communities, and to convey a cohesive focus to your work.

Organizing Questions for your Career Statement

Glassick (1997: 23) is widely cited for a set of criteria he developed to guide the assessment of a faculty member's scholarly activity. These criteria include:

  • Clear goals
  • Adequate preparation
  • Appropriate methods
  • Significant results
  • Effective presentation
  • Reflective critique

Driscoll and Sandmann (1999), and then Maurana (2000) built on Glassick's work and developed a set of guiding questions that faculty can use to develop their career statements to highlight community-engaged scholarship. For the purpose of the toolkit, we have further adapted the questions to assist you in structuring your thinking about your work and to enable you to effectively communicate your commitment to communities through your scholarly activities.

At most institutions, faculty are expected to summarize their career focus and the theoretical framework(s) that guide their work and scholarship. It is very important for you to clearly state your overall academic focus and vision and to describe the theoretical foundation for your work. The toolkit's Vision Section and for Tips & Strategies for Developing a Strong Teaching Statement provide additional guidance.

In addition, it is important to provide substantive examples of your community-engaged scholarship in the statement. The questions below provide a framework for highlighting one or two programs or projects and your specific involvement in them. At institutions that emphasize teaching, the teaching statement may be given a greater or sole focus by your P&T committee. If this is the case, we suggest applying these strategies for the career statement to your teaching statement.

Standards for Assessment of Community-Based Scholarship, adapted, Maurana et al (2000)
Note: We use the term "partnership" in this box to reflect an ongoing and sustained relationship you might have with a community group or organization. The term program can also be changed to research or teaching.

Clear Goals

  1. What are your goals? Are they clearly stated?
  2. Did you and your community partner develop goals and objectives based upon community-identified needs and strengths?
  3. Did both community and academia consider the needs to be significant and/or important?
  4. What is your vision for the future of the partnership(s)?

Adequate Preparation

  1. What attitudes, knowledge and skills have you used to conduct the assessment of community needs and assets, and to implement the program(s)?
  2. How was the development of the program(s) based on the most recent work in the field?
  3. How did you consider important economic, social, cultural and political factors that affect the issue(s) being addressed?
  4. How did you recognize, respect and incorporate community expertise into the program(s)?

Appropriate Methods

  1. Do you describe how the partners been actively involved in each component of the program (e.g., assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation)?
  2. What methods did you use to assess the needs and strengths of the community and how were these based on the most recent work in the field?
  3. Has the partnership's work followed a planned process that has been tested in multiple environments and proven to be effective?
  4. Have partnerships been developed according the most recent evidence on building partnerships?


  1. Do you describe how the methods used are appropriately matched to the identified needs and strengths with attention to local circumstances and continuous feedback from the community?
  2. Does the approach focus on sustainability?
  3. What lessons did you learn about the program development and implementation?
  4. Does the program reflect the culture of the community?
  5. Does the work involve innovative and original approaches?

Significant Results

  1. Did the program result in positive community outcomes, what were they, and how do you know?
  2. Did the program result in positive institutional outcomes, what were they and how do you know?
  3. Did the program result in positive learner outcomes, what were they and how do you know?
  4. Did you develop new theories, models, frameworks or approaches that can be used by others?
  5. Did the program generate new resources (e.g., grant funding) for the program, community or institution, and what were they?
  6. Is the program being sustained?
  7. Does the community believe the results are significant and how do you know?

Effective Presentation

  1. How has the work (process and outcomes) of the partnership been disseminated in the community?
  2. How has the work (process and outcomes) of the partnership been disseminated in academic circles?
  3. How has the community contributed to developing and disseminating papers, presentations and other dissemination products from the work?
  4. How have the results been disseminated in a wide variety of formats to the appropriate community and academic audiences?

Ongoing Reflective Critique

  1. What evaluation has occurred?
  2. How have you thought and reflected about the activity?
  3. Would the community work with you again? Why?
  4. Would you work with the community again? Why?
  5. What lessons have you learned from your community-based work?
  6. How have these lessons informed your future career plans?

Faculty Tips and Strategies

"Every school is different, as is every university. Talk to the academic dean in your school and ask for guidance in how to put this together and what should get emphasis."
Full Professor

Scholarship Project faculty emphasize the need to be thoughtful in framing one's community-engaged scholarship. Faculty emphasize that "it is important to help others frame how they see your work." One faculty emphasizes that one must "describe and organize your evidence and cite literature that recognizes it as evidence." Faculty also provide a set of strategies for developing a strong career statement:

  • Follow any instructions provided since as noted above, each institution has a different culture and policies. Keep within the length advised.
  • Get advice on how to write your statement from someone in your Department who was on the P&T committee.
  • Ask to review career statements and portfolios of faculty who have recently been promoted or tenured.
  • Work with a mentor who will review and comment on drafts of your statement.
  • Provide detail and examples of the impact you have made in your field.

One Full Professor notes:

"I had asked a couple of faculty who had been promoted and whose work included academic practice, if they would share their promotion packages with me. I met with the full professors and showed them my CV for their suggestions on what I was thinking about for declaring as my 2-3 lines of work, evidence of impact from my work, and potential external reviewers. For each line of work, I needed to show continuity and progression through projects, publications (peer reviewed journals and technical reports), professional presentations (invited and keynotes). With regard to impact, I needed to show how products from my work have been adopted and disseminated nationally. With regard to teaching, I needed to show how I integrated my work into the courses I teach, the students I advise, and the continuing ed I conducted. My chair spent time with me going through several drafts of my statement, mainly to tighten it before showing it to the full professors. I met with the full professors for a second time for advice on the presentation of my package. Two of them were either currently serving or had formerly served on the P&T Committee, and one had been promoted to full professor under excellence in practice. They were particularly important in helping me think through evidence of impact."

Please click here for examples of faculty members' career statements.