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Documenting Teaching: Instructor-Provided Materials
Some of the most important evidence of teaching effectiveness is evidence we provide ourselves. Although we may not be the best judges of our own teaching effectiveness, the perspective we provide can be extremely important in providing context for other evidence in the file.
To keep from being overwhelmed by too much material, departments may want to specify certain materials they want to see. Or they may ask for materials to be organized into a teaching portfolio.
Here are three kinds of information faculty may want to present:
Information You Provide
If you've taken the time to put together a complete picture of your teaching, here is where you show that picture to your colleagues. Don't assume that anyone knows what your teaching responsibilities are--what classes you teach, how many students are in each, which grad students you work with, etc. Give your peers that information right up front, in a form that's easy to see and understand.
Here also is where you include some sample teaching materials to give your colleagues a sense of how you organize your classes and other teaching responsibilities. Although you don't want to overwhelm your colleagues with reading material, pick out a representative sample of your syllabi, handouts, assignment sheets and exams.
To provide some context for the information and materials, add your own perspective in the form of a reflective commentary or explanatory notes attached to particular items. Many department already ask for reflective commentary in faculty tenure/promotion files--sometimes as part of the larger personnel file--so your own department may have examples on hand. Additional examples can be found in Peter Seldin, The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions , available in the OID office. The list of resources at the bottom of this page includes some on-line examples as well.
If your department doesn't do peer observations of teaching, you may want to videotape a couple of classes to give your colleagues a sense of what you do in the classroom. The Center for Instructional and Learning Technologies (CILT) offers this service free of charge to UND faculty and GTAs, but two weeks notice is required.
Finally, either as part of your reflective commentary or in a special section, be sure to document your continuing professional development as a teacher.
Testimonials from Others
If you have been recognized for your teaching at the department, college, or university level, be sure to include mention of this. Another source of information is letters from students, former students, or colleagues who have sat in on your classes on a regular basis. Should you go out of your way to solicit such letters? That shouldn't be necessary. But if a student or colleague tells you how much they admire your teaching, it doesn't hurt to ask them if they would be willing to "put it in writing" for your file.
Products of Student Learning
Although few of us would want to be judged entirely on our students' performance, faculty who can point to evidence that their students are learning can reasonably claim some credit for their performance. Samples of graded student work or summaries of student performance on standardized exams can reveal a lot about what you are accomplishing as a teacher--especially if they are accompanied by your own commentary.
Brian Coppola, "Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy," Journal of Science Teaching XXXI, 7.
Peter Seldin, The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions , 2nd ed. (Boston: Anker Publishing, 1997).
John Zubizarreta, "Evaluating Teaching Through Portfolios," in Changing Practices in Teaching Evaluation, ed. Peter Seldin. Boston: Anker, 1999 (pp. 162-182).
In addition, here are some on-line examples of teaching philosophy statements, some with reflective commentary on recent teaching: