Teaching Portfolio

Your Teaching Portfolio documents your teaching activities and includes sample teaching materials and a teaching philosophy statement.

A Guide to the Preparation of your Teaching Dossier

Index


A Guide to Constructing Your U.W.O. Teaching Dossier for Graduate Students

by Colin Baird, Director, Educational Development Office (1996-97)
Modified for graduate students by Natasha Patrito Hannon (October 2011)

A Teaching Dossier (known also as a document that summarizes a faculty member's teaching accomplishments and activities. At Western, it has been adopted as part of the documentation required for decisions on faculty tenure and promotion. As the 1986 CAUT guide states, the "teaching dossier is to education what the list of publications, grants, and university awards is to research".

Since individuals and teaching activities vary so widely, no two teaching dossiers will look alike. Various institutions differ in the content rules for such documents, however for the purpose of the Western Certificate in University Teaching and Learning, your dossier should include the following sections:

  • Table of Contents
  • Teaching Philosophy Statement, (An explanation of why you make the pedagogical decisions that you do.  See discussion and examples below).
  • Teaching Responsibilities (a list of the courses you've taught or acted as a teaching assistant for over the past seven years with a short description of your role therein)
  • Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness (may include summary tables of numerical student ratings over the past seven years, selected written comments from teacher evaluations, reference letters from students, summaries of peer teaching observations, etc…)
  • Key Teaching Strategies and Innovations (a list, with description, of 3-5 key instructional strategies that you routinely employ in your classroom or innovative teaching ideas that you’ve employed with success)
  • Professional Development in Teaching (descriptions of professional development experiences that you have engaged in to enhance your instructional abilities)
  • Outlines for courses that you have TAed or instructed over the past two years (Limit each outline to a maximum of 5 pages, trimming any longer outlines to display only the most critical information)
  • Outlines for courses that you have created and are proposing to teach

Other optional dossier sections are also described in the Preparing Your Teaching Dossier section of this guide.  Please refer to the chart in the next section for additional details.

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Preparing Your Teaching Dossier

The Teaching Dossier is a highly personal document that reflects your unique approach to teaching and student learning. We recommend that you review samples of dossiers and philosophy statements to develop a clear understanding of their structure and organization.  However, if you find yourself drawing from the ideas of others when developing your dossier, please consult the online resource "How not to plagiarise" and, where in doubt, cite sources appropriately.

If a dossier or philosophy statement that you submit in support of the Certificate is deemed to have been plagiarised in any way, you will have to wait a minimum of six months before you are able to submit revised (and wholly original) documents and receive the Certificate.

In the two-column document below, the content requirements for your teaching dossier appear in the left-hand column and some suggestions to help prepare the corresponding items are given in the right-hand column.

CONTENT AREA AND SPECIFICATIONS

SUGGESTIONS

Teaching Philosophy Statement

  • A succinct, clearly reasoned statement of your personal beliefs about teaching and how these have influenced your choice of teaching methods, i.e., an explanation of why you do what you do...maximum length 2 pages
    (Required)

(See separate discussion and examples below)

Teaching Responsibilities

  • List of all courses or segments of courses taught (as a TA or lead instructor) in the past 7 years, plus a description of your role therein  (Required)

 

List the title and number of each course with the years you've taught it; include a description of your instructional duties.

Example:
GEOG 3461 Land Use and Development  Issues  (Fall 2009, 2010)

Created and presented tutorial sessions, marked assignments, guest lectured, activated and supervised online course supplement, consulted with students on final project

  • Course outlines (maximum length 5 pages each) for all courses TAed or independently instructed in the past 2 years  (Required)  

Include these as appendices at the end of the portfolio

  • List of all students supervised, including graduate and undergraduate theses, independent study, and practicum supervision
    (Optional)

As a graduate student, you may have been involved in the supervision of an undergraduate research project or independent study.  If so, list the student name, year(s) of supervision and title of project as well as a brief description of your supervisory role.

Example:
Paul Elan, Photolithographically patterned surface modification of poly(dimethylsiloxane)          (Fall 2006) 

Developed project description; conferred with the student to identify their research interests and establish timelines and tenable goals for their work; trained student on all relevant equipment and experimental techniques and was available for consultation as their research became increasingly independent and self-driven

Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness

  • Graphical or tabular summary of formal student ratings for all courses taught in the last 7 years, when available (Recommended)

Include a summary table of student ratings from the university teaching evaluation forms. See dossier Example XX for a succinct way to construct a table of the required data.  The average of your ratings for each year and/or for each course could also be displayed. 

Please include the following information on your table:  i) total number of students in the course, ii) total number of respondents to the evaluation, iii) Scale upon which the evaluation is based (i.e. UWO employs a 7-point scale)

  • Letters or emails from students, parents, former students, or employers of former students...letters should be designated as solicited, or unsolicited, and if solicited, the letter of solicitation should be included. (Recommended)

Unsolicited letters or emails commenting on your teaching from students (past and present), their parents, etc. can be abstracted or included in an Appendix, as appropriate.

If you request letters about your teaching, all replies must be included along with a copy of the letter of solicitation. If numerous replies are received, they should be placed in an Appendix, with only a list of respondents given in the dossier itself.  Note:  Letters should ONLY be requested AFTER you are no longer responsible for a student’s marks and they have received their final course grade.

  • Colleague evaluations based on direct observation of classroom teaching (Recommended)

If you have taken part in the Teaching Mentor Program or another form of teaching observation, summaries of observer comments may be included in the portfolio.  Briefly describe the context for the observation and provide selected comments from the observers’ feedback.  If desired, complete copies of the observers’ feedback can be included in an appendix in addition to the comment summaries provided in this section.

Recognition of Teaching Excellence

  • Teaching awards or nominations
    (Optional)

List any awards which you have received or for which have been nominated, with dates.

  • Invitations to teach or contribute curriculum materials to other institutions or departments
    (Optional)

 

Key Teaching Strategies and Innovations

  •  A list, with description, of 3-5 key instructional strategies that you routinely employ in your classroom or innovative teaching ideas that you’ve implemented with success (Required)

Succinctly describe key teaching strategies that you often incorporate into your teaching

Example:
Review previous lecture at the beginning of each class. At the beginning of each lecture, I spend two to three minutes reviewing the major topics from the previous lecture, restating important theorems and definitions. This serves a number of purposes. By doing this at the start of each lecture, it provides a consistent start to each lecture and is a cue for students to focus on the lecture. Since the review only covers previous material, no new content is missed if there are small disruptions from students entering late. It also helps place the previous material in context for the present lecture.

Mention any materials you've developed, including lab manuals; new assignments; computer software produced for use by students; audio or video files for on in-class or online use, etc.

  • Contributions you have made to development of new courses or revision of existing courses (Optional)

Since you may also have completed the ‘Course Design’ project in fulfilling the Western Certificate requirements, briefly include a description of your proposed course and the rationale for its development and inclusion in your current departmental offerings

Professional Development

  • Brief description of steps taken to improve your teaching, including workshops and seminars attended, courses completed, and peer consultation.
    (Required)

List, with dates and brief descriptions where available, any activities run by the Teaching Support Centre, or by your unit or your scholarly association, etc. that you have attended, such as "how to teach" courses, workshops/seminars on teaching techniques or curriculum development, etc. List also any "peer consultation" or mentoring you have undertaken to have colleagues provide you with feedback on your teaching through classroom observation, etc.

Educational Leadership

  • Membership on curriculum or educational policy and planning committees
    (Optional)

 

  • Membership on committees responsible for evaluating or improving teaching
    (Optional)

 

Scholarship on Teaching

  • Papers published or presented on teaching or curriculum issues, including articles proposing or evaluating new teaching methods or curriculum developments
    (Optional)

Cite any papers published, talks presented (e.g., at professional conferences) or grants obtained in the area of teaching/curriculum development.

  • Informal, unpublished research on teaching (Optional)

Describe briefly any informal, unpublished research you've undertaken on teaching methods or content for your courses.

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Writing Your "Teaching Philosophy"

Constructing this 1 to 2 page document can be the most difficult part of putting together a teaching dossier. Although no general prescription can be given for its construction, we reproduce below the advice given in several Canadian guides for dossier construction, and follow it with some examples written by various faculty members across the country. (Note that some of these examples are more lengthy than that suggested in the UWO dossier guidelines.) See also the sample dossiers suggested.

Dalhousie's Guide to the Teaching Dossier suggests that in the statement "you will reflect upon such questions as what you intend to accomplish through your various teaching activities (both short-term and long-term teaching goals), why you consider these goals to be important, and how your teaching practices promote student learning."

According to the Guide for Preparation and Use of the Professional Teaching Dossier published by Western's Faculty of Medicine, the statement of teaching philosophy "may include, but not be limited to, discussion in each of the following:

  • your personal theory of learning (e.g., what happens inside students when they learn)
  • the goals for instruction (what should be learned)
  • the role(s) and responsibility(ies) of the student in this process
  • the role(s) of the instructor in this process
  • a description of the variables which promote learning

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Examples of "Teaching Philosophy" Statements

Nanda Dimitrov: Teaching Philosophy – Intercultural Communication (PDF)

Isaac A. Kamola: Teaching Dossier (PDF)

Gavan Watson: Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Robert Williamson: Teaching Dossier (PDF)

Teaching statement examples from the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence at George Mason University.

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Sample Teaching Dossiers

Included below are several different dossiers prepared by faculty members and graduate students across a range of academic disciplines.  While none of the samples are formatted precisely according to the dossier guidelines detailed above, they certainly act as valuable examples for the organization, structure and content of your dossier.

Douglas Stebila (Graduate student, University of Waterloo, 2008) 
Excellent philosophy statement and good description of frequently used teaching methods

Laura Kerr (Faculty member, Queen’s University, 2007)
Very good Teaching Responsibilities, Teaching Innovations, and Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness sections.

Andreas Glombitza  (Faculty member, Universität Tübingen, 2012)
Excellent philosophy statement and Teaching Goals & Strategies section

Umer Noor (Faculty member, Humber College, 2012)
Excellent work sample section

Kyle James Matthews (Graduate student, Brown University, 2012)
Excellent philosophy statement, Experience, and Training sections.


Steps for Submitting Your Teaching Dossier

  1. Once you have completed BOTH your Teaching Portfolio and your Written Project, submit these documents together via email attachment to tsc@uwo.ca.
  2. Upon receiving both your portfolio and project, you will be directed to a registration site in order to book your consultation with an Educational Developer who will review your submissions with you and suggest revisions.

This consultation will take place at least 2 weeks after submission and is required for completion of the Western Certificate in University Teaching and Learning program.