Documenting Teaching

Documenting Teaching

Documenting your teaching performance is an important part of your career development, particularly when you are applying for an academic position or assembling a promotion or tenure dossier. This article provides suggestions on making this process more effective and useful for all involved. This article is intended to be helpful to departmental administrators and review committees as well as individual faculty members; among individual faculty members, this article will be useful for those who are assembling a dossier for promotion or tenure, as well as others who wish to document their teaching performance and commitment to teaching excellence. The advice provided here should be seen as recommendations and an outline of best practices across higher education; specific policy issues should be directed to the office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.   

Two general goals should be remembered when assembling evidence of your teaching performance. First, committees want to see evidence of your ongoing improvement and commitment to teaching. Rather than providing a snapshot of your teaching, the evidence should demonstrate a pattern of growth over multiple semesters. Second, the types of evidence available—listed below and itemized in the Promotion and Tenure Review Guidelines —should be synthesized to tell a coherent story of your development as a teacher.

To accomplish these goals, and to organize your thinking about your teaching and its growth, it is helpful to conceptualize the process of developing as a teacher. This process, illustrated in the schematic below, begins with events or circumstances that motivate you to work on your teaching. After you define an issue to focus on, you change your teaching strategies or adopt new teaching techniques, and then assess the impact of those changes on your students’ learning. A variety of events or circumstances can act as motivators; they can include the results of peer review, student course evaluations, research on your teaching, and assessment of student learning outcomes. These events or circumstances are aspects of the teaching and learning process itself, and show that this process is iterative. Motivators can also come from external factors such as participation in professional development opportunities. Outcomes of changes in teaching or student learning can be described in teaching statements or course portfolios, and can be rewarded with teaching awards or leadership opportunities. The steps given in the schematic are not only the steps in the process of developing as a teacher; they can also serve as the ideas around which you can organize the documentation of your teaching efforts.

In addition to the resources on our site, consultants in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) are available to provide feedback on your teaching, from reviewing course evaluations to doing classroom observations or providing feedback on a reflective statement or portfolio. Please note, however, that CITL consultants cannot write letters of support for your dossier; in order to avoid conflicts between our consulting role and that of an evaluator, we leave such letters to your academic colleagues. Contact us to arrange an appointment.