A Guide to Constructing Your U.W.O. Teaching Dossier
by Colin Baird, Director, Educational Development Office (1996-97)
September, 1996 (Revised February 1999, June 2009, and January 2010 with editorial changes only)

A Teaching Dossier (known also as a "Teaching Portfolio" in some parts of the world) is 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. According to the rules for content of such documents at Western, your dossier can be as simple as the following: 1) a list of the courses you've taught in the past seven years with a description of your role therein, 2) outlines for the courses you've taught in the last two years, 3) a list of all the students you have supervised, and 4) a summary of your student rating evaluations over the past seven years. Example I illustrates this "minimalist" approach to a dossier. If you plan to use the dossier for promotion/tenure purposes, it must also contain letters formally solicited from students you taught in the classroom and supervised in research. (Your Departmental and Faculty Promotion and Tenure Committee will presumably add other teaching-related information to your P & T file, such as comparative and raw teaching ratings data.)

In addition to the minimum information listed above, the Western guidelines recommend the inclusion of the following additional items in your dossier.

  • A statement of your Teaching Philosophy, i.e. "an explanation of why you do what you do" (see discussion and examples below).
  • A description of any novel teaching methods or curriculum materials you've developed.
  • Reports from colleagues who've observed your classroom teaching and evaluated your course documentation.

As well, there are twelve additional categories of materials that are optional to include in your dossier. Not all these categories will be appropriate to all individuals, especially faculty members who have only a few years teaching experience and/or who concentrate more on research than teaching. Examples II and III illustrate more elaborate dossiers for two individuals who have been productive in the area of teaching innovations. (Even more extensive dossiers are those used to nominate individuals for teaching awards; the University Secretariat, Room 290, Stevenson-Lawson Building, keeps on file for consultation dossiers for some individuals who have won Western's Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching. Note, however, that the format for these award dossiers differ somewhat from the categories discussed herein.)