THE TEACHING DOSSIER KIT
This informal and practical guide to the teaching dossier for
faculty and TAs at the University of Victoria includes sections
what is a teaching dossier?
what does it look like?
what might be included? (including tips on writing a teaching
how is it evaluated? and
Getting Started (with a step-by-step guide to the collection
and compilation of materials, sample tables of content, a sample
teaching dossier and a teaching dossier checklist.)
The teaching dossier (also known as the teaching portfolio) originated
in 1980 as a collaborative effort by some members of the Canadian
Association of University Teachers. The dossier is "a summary
of a professor's major teaching accomplishments and strengths"
and provides selected short descriptions that convey the scope
and quality of your teaching. It is to a professor's teaching what
lists of publications, grants and academic honours are to research
(a description from the latest revision of the original document
from CAUT.) Many universities in Canada and the United States now
require the submission and evaluation of a teaching dossier in
faculty evaluation procedures; it is a flexible enough document
to be used for both personnel decisions and for providing stimulus
and structure for teaching improvement. A recent STLHE listserv
discussion on the use of teaching dossiers prompted this comment
from a teacher at McMaster University,
"...they have widened the base of knowledge and information
available to university decision-makers on teaching effectiveness.
In addition, the preparation of a teaching dossier by faculty
members tends to increase their own self-consciousness about
teaching and what it entails. Faculty members have more scope
to demonstrate their teaching effectiveness and their understanding
of what good teaching entails is probably deeper."
We recommend that you start and maintain a teaching dossier to
keep track of your teaching activities, your philosophy of teaching,
and details of your classroom experiences. The dossier will serve
as a tool for self-development and provide evidence of your teaching
We hope that this kit will provide some useful background material,
the stimulus to begin and a good framework for assembling a useful
dossier, both for your own on-going teaching improvement and to
make a good case for your teaching effectiveness when applying
for promotion, tenure or salary increments.
The Learning and Teaching Centre (8571) can provide more information
or help in creating your teaching dossier.
IS A TEACHING DOSSIER?
The C.A.U.T. Guide to the Teaching Dossier describes it as "a
summary of a professor's major teaching accomplishments and strengths"a
selection of short descriptions that illustrate your teaching activities
and philosophy. It is an evolving document that might be viewed
as your annual report on teaching and it is a personal document
for which you are the editor, you select the criteria and you take
the responsibility. It is a purposive document: the criteria may
shift as your career develops and as your responsibilities change.
It can expand or contract depending on the need--tenure and promotion
application, giving a routine annual report, application for a
job or documentation for a teaching award for example. The documentation
it contains is mostly exemplary--illustrating your best work, your
students' best work or the innovations that have had the greatest
demonstrable impact on student learning. It is also an opportunity
to put your teaching and the products of your teaching into context
for those who will be judging or evaluating your teaching effectiveness. Typically
it will contain a list of your teaching responsibilities, self
evaluation and evaluation by others (students, peers, alumni, colleagues)
and will include a short statement of your personal teaching philosophy,
an annual assessment of your teaching development projects, a list
of your long-term teaching goals and an overview of your approach
to meeting these goals. You may include some examples of course
materials, evaluation materials, documented student accomplishments,
evidence of teaching improvement, descriptions of innovative approaches
to teaching--the contents remain your decision. Preparing a teaching
dossier is a two-part process involving (i) the collection and
(ii) the presentation of materials.
The Teaching Dossier: what is its purpose?
From the institution's perspective
UVIC's Strategic Plan describes the need for and importance of "...formal
measures for evaluating teaching effectiveness as a central component
in all decisions relating to tenure, promotion and salaries of
University of Victoria academic staff." The Strategic Plan
reiterates the wording in the Tenure Document that there are various
sites of teaching in and out of the formal classroom, "The
individual's ability to teach is of great importance. Ability as
a teacher may take many different forms and evaluation of teaching
ability shall be based on as many kinds of evidence as possible." The
Salary Policy for Regular Faculty Members and Continuing Librarians
dated May 8, 2000 notes that faculty members are evaluated according
to the following three criteria(a) teaching effectiveness
(b) scholarship and professional achievements and (c) other contributions.
In this same document, the definition of teaching effectiveness "means
the effectiveness of all of a Members methods and forms of
teaching and student supervision that are described and evaluated
in accordance with the Evaluation Policy of the Faculty. The evaluation
shall be conducted on the basis of a Faculty Members teaching
dossier that may include items such as teaching evaluations, peer
reviews, class visits, reviews of syllabi and examinations, evidence
of innovative teaching, and teaching awards."
Clearly, the dossier is an ideal source from which administrators
may view "as many kinds of evidence as possible." Creating
and maintaining a dossier allows you to present this evidence to
administrators and evaluators: it is an opportunity to describe
the way you teach and whyyour philosophy, a statement of
your goals, a description of your innovative practices and evidence
of your teaching effectivenessand to list criteria on which
you wish your teaching to be judged.
The Dean of each faculty at the University of Victoria must develop,
in consultation with the faculty, an Evaluation Policy for the
evaluation of members in the faculty, and this will include a description
of the format and essential content to be used by a faculty member
in preparing the teaching dossier for evaluation of teaching effectiveness.
The authors of the C.A.U.T. Guide to the Teaching Dossier comment, "when
faculty incorporate their teaching dossiers into their curricula
vitae, administrators will pay careful attention to this information
because it fills a vacuum among the current bases for performance
Some words of warning: the teaching dossier is one source of information
only, albeit a very important one on the teaching role. Tenure
and Promotion Committees are required to seek evidence from "as
many sources as possible" to substantiate approval for promotion
and tenure or salary increases. Also, not all professors and administrators
will embrace the dossier concept. The following comment in The
Focus newsletter from Dalhousie University (undated) is unfortunately
"At many institutions there is a disturbing xenophobia
towards strangers bearing new ideas. The portfolio (dossier)
concept is no exception. Their resistance can best be overcome
by open and candid discussions and by field-testing the portfolio
on a handful of prestigious professors."
While it is impossible to estimate how many universities world-wide
have adopted the teaching dossier approach in the faculty evaluation
process, from the considerable amount of literature on the topic
it is clearly an idea whose time has come. The C.A.U.T. Guide argues "since
teaching is undoubtedly a basic raison d'etre of universities then
it would be absurd to fail to evaluate and reward effective teaching,
or to do so on the basis of perfunctory evidence, such as a summary
score from one item on a student questionnaire."
If teaching is worth examining at all, then a reasonable commitment
of time and resources will need to be made by instructors and administrators
From a personal perspective
Creation and maintenance of a teaching dossier allows you to reflect
on the complexities of your teaching role and consider your beliefs
about teaching and learning and the philosophy that informs the
way you teach. It is also an on-going history of your teaching
growth and improvement. It promotes introspection, as recently
described by this faculty member,
"I think it takes courage to trust this evaluation process
in which a teacher discusses his or her character, ability
and activities. When I started gathering material for the dossier,
I found myself beginning protectively, rationalizing any shortcomings
or overestimating any strengths; I dreaded being completely
honest with myself for fear of finding flaws. It required an
enormous amount of time spent in introspection as I took a
close inward look at myself and what I did. It was an intense,
ongoing but extraordinarily worthwhile experience."
While the dossier is both 'promotional' material and a reflective
document it may also serve as a protective document if allegations
of poor teaching are made by students, the administration or others.
It provides a well-documented history of your best efforts as a
teacher and reflects a proactive and thoughtful approach to teaching.
From a community perspective
U.Vic's Strategic Plan reiterates the importance and value of
good teaching--to students, to employers, to the community at large
and to the institution. It talks of 'public and internal accountability'
for good teaching and has as one of its major goals the encouragement
and reward of teaching effectiveness as a primary responsibility
at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. There is a trend
to upgrade the status of teaching from private to community property.
The Conference Board of Canada's survey of employers suggests that
colleges and universities are failing in their responsibility to
provide employable graduates. They believe that the learning outcomes
of a university education must include, among other things, the
to think critically and act logically to evaluate situations,
solve problems and make decisions
to use technology, instruments, tools and information systems
to access and apply specialized knowledge
Successful learning outcomes and competence--in large part what
students, employers and the community see as the results of effective
teaching--must be evident in our graduates. Dossiers should contain
evidence of student learning, of innovation and of carefully crafted
teaching approaches that take into account the importance of communication
skills, thinking skills and learning skills.
In a conference announcement for From Accountability to High Performance
in the New Public Sector (April 9 1997, sponsored by the Conference
Board of Canada) it is suggested that an institution's success
depends on "a change in their approach to information--in
terms of what they collect, why they collect it, and how they use
and that what we measure and pay attention to largely determines
what gets done. Canada-wide we are in the midst of a significant
institutional shift in an effort to become part of "the new
In the future it is likely that the teaching dossiers of U.Vic
faculty will be as significant as research grants on faculty c.v.'s.
TEACHING DOSSIER: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Suggestions on format appear in many of the sources listed in
the bibliography, but it is likely that no two teaching dossiers
will look quite the same. As noted earlier, the dossier can expand
or contract depending upon its use--a dossier included with a job
application will probably contain less 'data' than one intended
for a promotion and tenure application. However, the following
overview might be helpful:
a two-step process: collection and presentation of material
a loose-leaf format for easy additions/changes
a three to eight page document (depending on context). You
must decide what's not enough or too much. A delicate balance!
Edit or expand your teaching dossier to suit the context but
have as much material available as possible from which to make
a typical dossier might have four sections: Approach to Teaching
(philosophy, goals and objectives), a Summary of Teaching Responsibilities
and Contributions, Reflections on and assessment of teaching
and Supporting documentation (as appendices)
begin with a brief statement of teaching philosophy (maximum
one page) to place the balance of the contents in context for
keep ALL data close at hand (even a shoe-box in a desk drawer
works adequately) until you are ready to prepare the dossier.
It is easier to be selective than to have insufficient information.
Accumulate records of teaching activities and results and summarize
once a year. Preparing the dossier need not consume an unreasonable
amount of time
keep it relatively short. Summarize data wherever feasible
but retain original documents for reference
date and annotate all 'shoe-box' material to keep track of
start early. Think about and document your teaching activities
and contributions now--don't wait until you need to make a
case for promotion and tenure to think about your teaching
be aware of Freedom of Information and Protection of
Privacy Act guidelines when using student evaluations
or letters from students or colleagues
On the subject of size and brevity it is worth citing an e-mail
message (S.T.L.H.E. listserv) from someone who evaluates dossiers
(M. Scriven, January 15, 1997) who warns:
"...there are a number of traps that you have to avoid.
It's nothing to get two feet of paper in ring binders from
someone who keeps every letter they've written to anyone about
almost anything academic, every class handout including reprinted
material, half the student papers turned in, etc. The dossier
will eventually be listed as a major publication. We require
a well-organized table of contents and summary in a two inch
ring binder. And we tend to regard excessive length as a weakness,
although it wasn't directly listed that way (it's justified
under presentation skills.) The main point is to be clear about
what the dossier does in the great scheme of things called
evaluation of faculty."
TEACHING DOSSIER: what might be included?
As described earlier, a teaching dossier might have four tabs
or headings broadly describing (a) your approach to teaching (including
your goals and objectives; (b) your teaching responsibilities and
contributions; (c) reflections on your teaching effectiveness and
an assessment of your teaching and learning successes; and (d)
supporting documentation. Whatever format you choose, administrators
want you to gather and present hard evidence of successful classroom
What is good teaching and effective learning?
Some different perspectives
Before making decisions about a specific format or documents to
include in your dossier, it is informative and useful to read some
in-house material about what your department or the university
administration consider to be good teaching practice and effective
student learning. If your department has a policy on the evaluation
of teaching or a mission statement, it will give you a good idea
of the 'big picture.' Similarly, reading the University of Victoria
mission statement or strategic plan and the Tenure Document in
the Faculty Handbook will provide some clear insight to the University's
requirements and approach to evaluating teaching. Listed below
are two further sources that will give you a wider view of what
good teaching looks like. The first is taken from the Seven Principles
for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (from a respected
source, the American Association for Higher Education, the Education
Commission of the States and the Johnson Foundation) and the second
lists criteria for the Awards for Excellence in Teaching from the
U.Vic Alumni Association. It might also be useful to re-read the
profile of 'employable graduates' from the Conference Board of
Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education
- Good Practice Encourages Student-Faculty Contact. Frequent
student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important
factor in student motivation and involvement. Faculty concern
helps students get through rough times and keep on working.
Knowing a few faculty members well enhances students' intellectual
commitment and encourages them to think about their own values
and future plans.
- Good Practice Encourages Cooperation Among Students. Learning
is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo
race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social,
not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases
involvement in learning. Sharing one's own ideas and responding
to others' reactions improves thinking and deepens understanding.
- Good Practice Encourages Active Learning. Learning
is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting
in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments,
and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are
learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, and
apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn
part of themselves.
- Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback. Knowing what you
know and don't know focuses learning. Students need appropriate
feedback on performance to benefit from courses. In getting
started, students need help in assessing existing knowledge
and competence. In classes, students need frequent opportunities
to perform and receive suggestions for improvement. At various
points during college, and at the end, students need chances
to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need
to know, and how to assess themselves.
- Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task. Time plus energy
equals learning. There is no substitute for time on task. Learning
to use one's time well is critical for students and professionals
alike. Students need help in learning effective time management.
Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning
for students and effective teaching for faculty. How an institution
defines time expectations for students, faculty, administrators
and other professional staff can establish the basis for high
performance for all.
- Good Practice Communicates High Expectations. Expect
more and you will get it. High expectations are important for
everyone--for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert
themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting
students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
when teachers and institutions hold high expectations for themselves
and make extra efforts.
- Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning. There
are many roads to learning. People bring different talents
and styles of learning to college. Brilliant students in the
seminar room may be all thumbs in the lab or art studio. Students
rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory.
Students need the opportunity to show their talents and learn
in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to learning
in new ways that do not come so easily.
Guidelines for Nominations for U.Vic Alumni Association
Award(s) for Excellence in Teaching
- Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the subject for the
level of the course/courses taught.
- Be consistently well prepared for teaching sessions, whether
lectures, laboratories, seminars or tutorials
- Demonstrate enthusiasm for the subject and the capacity to
arouse interest in it among the students
- Encourage student participation in the teaching-learning process
- Set high standards and successfully motivate students to attain
- Communicate effectively through various media at levels appropriate
to the students' capacity
- Utilize methods of evaluation of student performance that
stress an understanding and integration of the subject matter
- Be accessible to students outside class hours
- Have a reputation for superior teaching and be recognized
for this quality by students and colleagues alike
- Demonstrate clearly that efforts are made to keep abreast
of new teaching methods, curriculum development and course
And, from the University of Victoria Strategic Plan, a
vision of the university's mandate and role:
"We seek to provide a university education that fosters
in students the ability to think clearly and creatively, to
analyze complex issues, to exercise independent judgment, to
communicate clearly in speech and writing, to interpret the
cultural fabric with insight and sensitivity, and to contribute
thoughtfully and constructively to society."
A teaching philosophy
The teaching philosophy part of your teaching dossier has been
compared to an abstract to a scholarly paper--as a way of focusing
the main points of the paper. The reflective statement of your
own teaching philosophy is an important element of the document,
providing evaluators with a context for assessing your work as
a teacher . You will probably rewrite your statement of teaching
philosophy many times as you complete the balance of your dossier.
After reading definitions of what good teaching looks like from
both external and internal perspectives you will probably be in
a position to begin to clarify and articulate your own beliefs,
values, ethics and style--your own vision and philosophy of what
good teaching looks like. A useful template for organizing your
thoughts about the fit between your teaching and learning philosophy
and teaching behaviour is to reflect on the following questions
- To teach well one must....
- I believe a good university education should....
- Therefore in my teaching I try to...
A sample 'teaching philosophy' statement is included later in
the kit, but you might choose to incorporate connections to:
short term and long term teaching and learning goals
your views about students
your objectives as a teacher (in a particular course)
what you try to accomplish in your teaching
what you see as your responsibility and the student's responsibility
how your course contributes to the university's educational
how your philosophy informs how you teach
In a recent STLHE listserv discussion, an instructor comments,
"the higher goal is not to create a dossier for someone
to examine once a year for the narrow purpose of securing a
salary raise or promotion or the golden fleece of tenure. The
real purpose is to examine yourself constantly and to emerge
from the process a better more aware teacher than when you
TEACHING DOSSIER: HOW IS IT EVALUATED?
While dossiers form a vital part of your own teaching improvement
efforts, they are also a useful and helpful tool for tenure and
promotion committees for decision-making purposes. It makes sense
to find out in advance how your material will be evaluated. Some
Promotion and Tenure committees may create a checklist or an assessment
matrix on which to judge dossiers. They may, for example, give
a weighting to such criteria as
Committees may request original documentation as supporting evidence,
for example, summaries of student evaluations of teaching (provided
to you by your department,) invitations to contribute articles
on improving teaching performance, student workbooks or assignments,
original letters from students or colleagues. You should retain
such original material until the committee's deliberations are
The Teaching Dossier: Freedom of Information and Protection
of Privacy Act guidelines
The University of Victoria is subject to British Columbia's Protection
of Privacy laws. If you plan to include letters from individuals,
samples of student work, student evaluations or any other materials
that someone else has given or sent to you, it is necessary to
get their written permission to use these in your teaching dossier.
If you have solicited material from students or colleagues for
inclusion in your Teaching Dossier, this should be noted. While
not directly applicable to Teaching Dossiers, the following guidelines
on evaluations are useful to keep in mind:
Evaluations of instructors are accessible only to the instructor
and university officials who require the information for their
work, such as Department Chairs and ARPT committees
Written evaluations of courses are accessible if notice has
been included to inform students that comments will be passed
on to instructors and committees and if all personal identifiers
Multiple choice evaluations resulting in a computer-generated
statistical report are accessible
It should be indicated at the top of an evaluation form that
the anonymity of the writer will be protected and that the
form is being distributed with the knowledge and consent of
Departmental practice varies on the collection and distribution
of students anecdotal comments so you should check your own
On application for reappointment, tenure
or promotion, the primary responsibility falls upon the
candidate to prepare and provide a dossier that includes
evidence with regard to the candidate's teaching effectiveness.
The candidate may include both the statistical analysis
and the anecdotal comments as part of the dossier. However,
a difficult and resolved question arises when a candidate
submits only a selected sample of favourable anecdotal
comments or only anecdotal comments from some but not all
courses that the candidate has taught. In circumstances
where a candidate submits only selected positive comments,
an ARPT committee must determine whether it will place
any weight on anecdotal comments. (from Student Ratings
of Instruction at the University of Victoria, Guidelines
and Suggestions, March 1999)
The following information from the University Secretary's office
suggests that an ARPT Committee will need to make a copy of your
teaching dossier or make extensive notes on it while it is under
consideration for promotion and tenure purposes or other personnel
decisions. The original dossier should be returned to you, but
the copy (or notes) must be retained by the committee for a year
following their decision. The original dossier remains your property.
"While your dossier is in the possession of the Promotion
and Tenure Committee or other official evaluating body) it is
a university record. The FOI Act states that personal information
used to make a decision about a person must be retained for one
year. If the dossier is returned to the instructor, a record
should be kept of the type of material considered so that if
an appeal occurs and the committee has to review its decision
that the same material is used in the review as was used the
first time. The FOI Act excludes from its purview a record containing
teaching materials as long as that record is not submitted to
the University for official purposes. The same is true of research
information. Once it is submitted on a grant proposal it becomes
a record of the University."
If you need clarification or further information on how these
B.C. laws affect teaching dossiers contact the University Secretary's
office at 8100.
STARTED: A two-stage, seven-step process
While there is no definitive template for a teaching dossier the
following may be useful in getting started. It is a two-part process--the
gathering of information and data and the presentation of this
material. Which items to include is your decision and will depend,
in large part, on the purpose for which you are preparing it .
You may decide to describe some items at length and to keep others
very brief--look at sample teaching dossiers or portfolios in some
of the books listed in the bibliography or the sample dossier to
get a sense of the different approaches to presentation. We have
listed the Table of Contents from six sample dossiers to illustrate
some possibilities. Above all, remember that you are presenting
a thoughtful and careful compilation of your teaching activities
and achievements and its purpose is to make the best possible case
for your teaching effectiveness.
Before you compile your dossier...
- Begin gathering information which pertains to your
teaching activities as soon as possible. Keep everything that
concerns your teaching (perhaps in a shoe box in your desk
drawer)--you can be selective when the time comes to prepare
your dossier. Some things to retain might be:
course outlines, examinations, summaries of student evaluations,
copies of your diary pages showing the frequency of contact
with students in office hours, samples of students' work, unsolicited
letters from students and colleagues, peer evaluations, mid-course
feedback, one-minute papers, copies of flyers of workshops
attended at the Learning and Teaching Centre and other professional
development activities, books read on learning and teaching,
contributions to newsletters or journals on teaching, supervision
of directed studies, invitations to other campuses, committee
work on teaching, learning or curriculum committees.
- Read your department's mission statement, the University's
mission statement or strategic plan, the Tenure Document in
the Faculty Handbook, descriptions of 'best practice' in teaching
to get a sense of how your department, the university, educational
organizations and the community feel about excellent teaching.
- Summarize your teaching responsibilities.
- Write a teaching philosophy statement. Remember that
the purpose of the teaching philosophy statement is put the
balance of material in context for the reader. You may include
short term and long term goals and objectives within your philosophy
statement or write a Conclusion at the end of the dossier including
'future improvement' plans. It is likely that you will make
changes to this statement as you complete the balance of your
- Select criteria for effective teaching. What are your
strengths and accomplishments and how will you document these?
Write a factual statement itemizing and summarizing these in
each area and include samples or examples as appendices.
- Arrange and organize criteria in order and create a
table of contents--depending on the use of the dossier.
- Assemble supporting data. You may or may not choose
to include some of this material as an appendix to your dossier,
but it is important that you indicate on your summaries that
the material is available for review upon request.
TABLE OF CONTENTS FROM
SAMPLE TEACHING DOSSIERS
- Statement of Teaching Responsibilities and Objectives
- Syllabi, Reading Lists, Assignments, Exams and Handouts from
- Description of Efforts to Improve my Teaching
- Peer Evaluation of both my Teaching and Teaching Skills
- Student Teaching Evaluation Data from all courses taught for
the past year
- Videotapes of my instruction
- Measures of Student Achievement
- Other Evidence of Good Teaching
- Future Teaching Goals
A. Statement of Teaching Responsibilities
- Course taught
- Honours theses supervised
- Graduating theses supervised
- Practica supervised
B. Reflective Statement on Teaching Philosophy and Goals
C. Courses Developed or Modified
- Ed.B. 516
- Ed. B. 345
D. Student Ratings Summary
- Statement of teaching responsibilities (courses taught, teaching
strategies and advising)
- My approach to teaching
- Teaching goals and objectives
- Course development
- Student ratings summary
- Statement of pedagogical philosophy, strategy and implementation
- Statement of teaching responsibilities
- Summary statement of documentation
b) My approach to teaching
c) Resume of teaching-related activities
- Academic appointments
- Professional associations
- Service to the university
a. Faculty Development
b. Undergraduate program administration
- Teaching awards
- Professional Development
a. Presentations at Learning & Teaching Centre
b. Workshops and meetings attended
7. Current educational research and projects
d) Summary of student evaluations of teaching
e) Appendices - teaching materials (supporting documents included)
- Philosophy and future goals
- Classroom standards
- Individual class objectives and activities
- Examples of course enrichment
- Measures of teaching effectiveness
- Statement of teaching responsibilities
a) courses taught, teaching strategies and
- My approach to teaching
- Goals and objectives
- Student ratings summary
- Course development
1. Teaching responsibilities
(a) Courses taught, teaching strategy and student contact
Biology 200/Introduction to Evolution and Biological Diversity
500 students a year
15 3-hour lectures and two tutorials per week
This is the sixth consecutive year that I have taught this introductory
course on the principles and processes of evolution and the diversity
of life. Curriculum includes natural selection, genetic basis of
variation, speciation, evolutionary change and evidence of evolution;
origin, evolution and adaptive radiation of major groups of plants
and animals including the fungi and protists. Practicals involve
students handling live and preserved specimens.
This course is required for all honours and majors biology students.
In 1996 the enrollment in this course increased from 120 to 500
students necessitating a change in format and content. I redesigned
the course to accommodate a large-class format including the introduction
of interactive computer exercises, CD Rom presentations and additional
tutorials. I give all the lectures in one term and am assisted
in laboratories by four instructors and twelve student demonstrators.
I meet informally with every student for five minutes at least
once during the term to discuss their progress.
Biology 360 Cell Biology (1.5)
140 students a year
37 lectures a term
I taught this course for the first time in the Spring of 1997.
Included in the curriculum are the structure and function of animal
and plant cells and tissues, membrane structure, transport, cellular
compartments, cytoskeleton, cell growth and division, cell adhesion,
extracellular matrix, tissue organization and renewal. An outline
of Biology 360 is included in the appendices. Students advance
from text books, Scientific American offprints and well structured
lectures illustrated with slides, to review, scientific literature
and a less structured, informal series of lectures. Emphasis is
placed on the experimental approach to understanding cells. I meet
individually with students three times a term to coordinate and
discuss their work and progress. I also maintain a computer bulletin
board and listserv for Biology 360 students requiring them to contribute
to on-going discussion and reflection on their research findings.
2. My Approach to Teaching
The most important aspect of teaching, from my perspective, is
that students learn and retain information and are stimulated by
the subject matter. My concern for students and their learning
is expressed in many ways
- I ensure that my courses are updated regularly to include
current readings, evaluation of new texts and an annual review
of my slides. I subscribe to The Biology Teacher journal and
am aware of the latest teaching strategies and learning effectiveness
techniques in Biology teaching
- I conduct extensive mid-course evaluations of my courses at
least four times during the term and use the one-minute paper
at the conclusion of every lecture to ensure comprehension.
A sample summary of one-minute paper results can be found in
- My office hours are open -- students may drop by at any time
either in my office or laboratory. I provide advice on academic
matters and career choices. Informal contact with students
is a very important aspect of teaching for me, although given
the size of my classes it can become overwhelming at times.
I feel that even one face-to-face meeting with a student in
my classes makes a difference to their attitude and expectations.
- I serve on several committees related to curriculum and teaching
effectiveness at both the departmental and university level
- I organize the annual event, Go Biology, for high school students
considering taking first year Biology at the university. This
one-day event welcomes 75 students from local high schools
and involves a tour of the Biology Department facilities, attendance
at a special Introductory Lecture and an opportunity to meet
faculty and staff. Organization and presentation of this event
won the university award for Innovation in Approaches to First
Year Teaching Award in 1996 for the U.Vic Biology Department.
- I regularly attend teaching and learning improvement workshops
at the Learning and Teaching Centre. In 1996 these included:
January 96 Evaluating and Grading Writing Across the Disciplines;
February 96 The One Minute Paper - how it works; March 96 Approaches
to Handling Disruptive Behaviour in the Classroom. I also present
a monthly seminar (1.5 hours) to Graduate T.A.'s in the Department
on aspects of Teaching Biology.
3. Goals and Objectives
Personal contact with students, encouraging and inspiring high
school and university students to make a career in the biological
sciences and on-going learning for myself are crucial aspects of
my approach to teaching and to university education. I see the
benefits of having students who are eager to learn and I enjoy
making the torrent of new information in Biology accessible to
these students. I am also aware of the necessity for large classes
and I am endeavouring to find ways of making these classes less
intimidating and more interactive for students. I am committed
to constant evaluation of both my teaching and the material in
my courses. I believe in working with students to make learning
the enriching and empowering experience it should be, regardless
of class size. I am committed to becoming familiar and comfortable
with new computer technology over the next term so that I might
use this tool in my large classes to enhance instruction and student
learning. My long-term goal is to produce a modularized computer
kit for Introductory Biology students (on CD Rom) to include all
current slides and course materials. Overall, I am also committed
to ensuring that the learning experience for students in my large
classes is not diluted. I believe that with meticulous planning,
a sincere attitude and the use of a variety of large-class teaching
strategies such classes should be as engaging, interactive and
dynamic as the best the university has to offer.
4. Summative & Formative student evaluation of my teaching
|Summary of Student Ratings
|Overall instructor rating
|Overall course rating
|Availability to students
|Ability to explain
|Promotes a respectful classroom
(Mean score for overall instructor rating, Biology Dept., 3.9
on a 5.0 scale)
(Original summaries of student ratings are available from the
Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science and from the Department
The above student evaluation data is summative, i.e. 'official'
student evaluations used to give administrators information about
teaching performance. I strongly believe in formative evaluation
to keep teaching and learning on track. I use four mid-course evaluations
to establish whether students are understanding the material covered
and that my enthusiasm, clarity and presentations are adequate.
This data enables me to make necessary adjustments in both the
course content, the rate of delivery and to correct any personal
teaching failings. At the end of every lecture I use a one-minute
paper, asking all students the questions:
"What was the most useful/meaningful thing you learned in
"What aspects of the topic are unclear and need further explanation?"
I review this feedback and address any misconceptions or unclear
points at the beginning of the next class.
A summary of the four mid-course evaluations and a sample One
Minute Paper is attached as an appendix.
5. Course development
I have played an active role in developing a new course for the
first year medical school program at U.B.C. The course, Introduction
to Physiology, will be a model in the undergraduate program for
its innovative use of problem-based learning, laboratory experiments
and clinical demonstrations. I am working with my U.Vic and U.B.C.
colleagues and students to improve and enhance the learning experience
of first year medical students. The course will be run for the
first time in the Spring of 1997 with 45 students.
- Course outlines
- Copies of assignments
- Copies of exams (midterm and final 1996 & results)
- Examples of exemplary student work
- Lecture outlines
- Unsolicited letters from students
- Summary of meetings with students outside class time
- Student ratings of instruction summaries (formative and summative)
- Sample of one-minute paper response
- Flyer from a presentation for the Learning and Teaching -
Centre on using one minute paper
- 11. Summary of contribution to U.B.C. 1st year Medical course
(and letters of appreciation from colleagues)
This is a comprehensive list of possible supporting
materials that might document the scope and quality of your teaching
activities. Select those that suit the context and style of your
TEACHING DOSSIER CHECKLIST
Step 1: Over the term/year, gather materials on
Teaching: undergraduate and graduate
teaching philosophy/approach to teaching
instructional quality/learning outcomes
availability to students/classroom time
course design (to meet learning objectives)
quality of course materials
quality of supervision
goals and strategies for teaching improvement activities
department (e.g. course sequence)
university (e.g. program development)
national/international (e.g. consultant, interaction with
ministries, schools, other universities)
Leadership (teaching & learning)
department (committees, TA training etc.)
university (committees, new faculty)
other (community, conference contributions)
course materials (outlines, handouts, exams, reading lists)
from students (formative & summative evaluations, examples
of exemplary work, letters, other feedback)
Review related documents. Some or all of the following might
be useful sources from which to view the role of teaching from
various perspectives -- your department, the university and the
community. The Learning and Teaching Centre can suggest several
additional publications from which to gather background information.
Departmental statement of teaching goals/roles
University mission statement or strategic plan
Tenure document in Faculty Handbook
Alumni Award Criteria for Excellence in Teaching
Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education
Conference Board of Canada Profile of Employable graduates
Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Guidelines
Evaluation guidelines from ARPT committee (if available)
Sample Teaching dossiers from members of your dept.
Materials from Learning and Teaching Centre
Summarize your teaching responsibilities and teaching-related
courses taught, when
course descriptions, level
number of students
frequency of lectures/labs/tutorials
coordination of parallel sections
fieldwork or practica supervision
directed studies/project supervision
curriculum development committees (dept., university, national)
leadership (dept., university, community, conference contributions)
teaching workshops attended or given
teaching society memberships/listserv participation
Write a statement of your teaching philosophy and teaching improvement
goals (also referred to as a Reflective Statement, Pedagogical
Philosophy, My Approach to Teaching, Philosophy and Future Goals).
Try to keep this statement brief (approximately one page) and remember
that its purpose is to put your teaching dossier in context for
evaluators. It might be useful to question -
why do you teach the way you do?
what are your teaching/learning beliefs, values, ethics, style?
what is important about a university education?
what is your definition of good teaching?
Write your teaching improvement goals (These might form part of
your Teaching Philosophy, Approach to Teaching or Closing Comments
or may be listed under a separate heading)
short term goals
long term goals
incorporating computer technology in your classes
professional development activities to undertake
different teaching strategies to try
plans for coping with challenges of larger classes
books to read
teaching and learning conferences to attend
new things to learn
Consider criteria for effective teaching. What are your accomplishments?
What are your strengths? What is the evidence of improved student
learning? Summarize -
formative and summative student evaluations (with your explanatory
notes as necessary)
exemplary student work
teaching highlights (successes, innovations, experiments)
unsolicited letters from students, alumni, colleagues
articles written on teaching/learning
history of improvement over time
other measures of teaching effectiveness
Arrange and organize file folder and create a well-organized Table
of Contents (by list or description). Put materials in a 2"
teaching philosophy statement
statement of teaching responsibilities and teaching related
teaching improvement goals and objectives
summaries of :
summative and formative evaluation data
measures of student achievements
descriptions of efforts to improve teaching
unsolicited letters from students/colleagues/alumni
implementation of innovative teaching strategies and results
current educational research
courses developed or modified
closing comments or conclusion
supporting data (as appendices)
Assemble supporting data. From your gathered material select relevant
supporting documents. Ensure permission has been granted to include
letters, student work or materials from others. You may or may
not decide to include this material as an appendix to your dossier,
but you should indicate on your summaries that it is available
for review upon request.
edit and update your dossier annually
keep it brief
have a colleague review and comment on the dossier before
submission to a decision-making committee
consider working on a dossier with a colleague--it promotes
a collegial exchange on teaching and learning
Where can I get further information and help?
The Learning and Teaching Centre located in the Harry Hickman Building, Room 126, 721-8571; email email@example.com.
We have several books on the background, preparation and use of
teaching dossiers (also known as portfolios.) We also run two Teaching
Dossier workshops a year.
BIBLIOGRAPHY -- THE TEACHING DOSSIER/PORTFOLIO
Boice, Robert The New Faculty Member. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass,
Brascamp, L.A., J.C.Ory. Assessing Faculty Work. San Francisco:
Centra, J.A. Reflective Faculty Evaluation: Enhancing Teaching
and Determining Faculty Effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey Bass,
Centre, J.A. Determining Faculty Effectiveness. San Francisco:
Millis, B. Putting the Teaching Portfolio in Context in To Improve
the Academy, POD Network, 1991.
ONeil, C. and Wright, A. Recording Teaching Accomplishments:
A Dalhousie Guide to the Teaching Dossier. Office of Instructional
Technology, Dalhousie University, 1992.
Seldin, P. and Associates. Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios.
Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing, 1993.
Seldin, P. and Associates. The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical
Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions. Bolton,
MA: Anker Publishing, 1991.
Shore, B.M. and others, The Teaching Dossier: A guide to its preparation
and use. Canadian Association of University Teachers, revised edition
Smith, Stuart L. Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Canadian
University Education. Ottawa: Association of Universities and Colleges
of Canada, 1991.
The Learning and Teaching Centre has several books on the background,
preparation and use of teaching dossiers or portfolios. Drop by
the Centre if you would like to review or borrow material.
Where can I get further information and help?
The Learning and Teaching Centre, Harry Hickman Building, Room 126, 721-8571; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a comprehensive guide for U.Vic faculty members and several
books on the background, preparation and use of teaching dossiers
(also known as portfolios.) We also run two Teaching Dossier workshops
The Teaching Dossier was developed by: