Gathering Evidence of Teaching Excellence
Faculty members who are up for review are now asked to submit two examples of teaching excellence. We have listed some resources below to help you develop a high-quality document for submission.
The list below represents items that will help you articulate how your teaching is thoughtful and effective. You can expect to spend about 30 minutes skimming these and deciding on a document type.
A course syllabus and a written reflection
A syllabus is more than just a list of lecture topics and assignment due dates. Done thoughtfully, it explains your goals for the course, demonstrates your enthusiasm for teaching, and expresses your confidence in students. A syllabus is considered to be high quality and may be a good choice for your review packet if it contains particular motivational aspects (the tone indicates you believe students can produce quality work, there are statements supporting student diversity), structural aspects, and evidentiary aspects.
Structural aspects of a good syllabus:
- Includes learning goals for the course
- Includes a transparent content structure (class schedule) and assessment schedule
- Indicates how each assignment relates to learning goals
- Includes clear grading guidelines
- Is complete enough to allow students to manage their time
Evidentiary aspects of a good syllabus:
- Reflects the instructor’s teaching philosophy (values service learning, or mentoring, or effective group skills, for instance).
- Is complete enough to act as a “contract” outlining student and and teacher responsibilities.
- Can include information about course and curriculum objectives needed for university accreditation
If your syllabus contains many of these elements, write a reflection paper describing how your syllabus expresses these aspects, and submit the syllabus and reflection paper together as one document. For additional examples and information about syllabi, see our main resource page on creating a powerful syllabus.
The Teaching Practices Inventory and Reflection
Considerable research has been conducted on factors that improve student learning in lectures. If you teach a lecture course, particularly one with TA-led labs or discussions, then this document is worth considering for your portfolio.
The Teaching Practices Inventory contains two parts:
- A checklist that allows instructors to quantify the use of several teaching techniques in their own class, and
- A review sheet that indicates which practices have been associated with stronger learning gains in educational research.
After completing the checklist, you would compare your answers to those on the review sheet. In a reflection paper, you would describe the teaching techniques that you scored highly on, and those you are seeking to improve.
Overview article: Wieman, C. (2015). A better way to evaluate undergraduate teaching. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 47(1), 6-15. Link
Additional information and resources: CWSEI at UBC
Organize a Peer Review of your Teaching
The use of peer review among faculty in higher education has a checkered history. They can be associated with departmental politics, or punishing poor teachers, or are just required, but rote and unhelpful.
As an individual faculty member, you have an opportunity to organize a peer review of your teaching in a way that will be helpful to you. Find someone (inside or outside your department) that has a similar teaching philosophy to yours, and invite them to sit in on one of your classes. To maximize your ability to use this for your tenure packet, arrange for a pre-class meeting or phone call so you can describe your goals for the course, any online or pre-class work the students will do, and what you would like your evaluator to specifically notice while they are visiting. Be sure to give them your syllabus and access to the class website if one is used.
After the reviewer has visited and taken notes, they will be able to write up a short overview of the teaching techniques that were effective in your class and those that may need work. If time permits, it can be helpful to meet again with your reviewer before they write up this document.
Finally, you can include all of the reviewer’s documentation plus a short reflection page of your own, indicating what aspects of the review you found helpful and changes you plan to make. This small packet makes an excellent upload for your tenure review.
To see sample peer review forms or learn more about positive peer review for a department, see our main resource page on faculty peer review.
Evidence of Continuing Professional Development in Teaching
Another form of secondary evidence can be your investment in acquiring more evidence-based teaching skills and greater familiarity with the scholarship of teaching and learning. In addition to webinars and other third-party resources, there are a number of on-campus opportunities for faculty instructional development:
- Certificates in Teaching Excellence
- Certificate in Engaged Instruction
- Course Design Certificate Program
- New Faculty Teaching Academy Certificate
- Individual, free and confidential teaching consultation
- Assisted peer review of teaching
The Center for Engaged Instruction is available for free one-on-one consultations about how to create effective documentation of your teaching. We also offer:
- Regular workshops on a variety of pedagogical topics
- Workshops personalized for departments or units to maximize discipline-specific teaching
- A selection of curated online resources on teaching and learning
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting or get more information.