Getting Started: Identifying and Collecting Materials for Your Teaching Dossier
For most instructors, the most important first step in developing a dossier is to collect all available course materials, student information, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and other information about their teaching.
“Collecting” here is meant quite literally, in two ways: 1) at this stage, the emphasis is on identifying and putting together in the same physical or virtual location all available information, however coherent, positive, or valuable – the sorting process will occur at a later stage. Furthermore, 2) “collecting” also emphasizes that, as much as is possible, this process should occur over time – the earlier in your academic career that you can begin, the more efficient and effective will be the process of putting together your eventual teaching dossier.
Because the contents of a dossier should be selective and coherent, the more you begin with, the more judicious you can be in choosing the pieces that most accurately and completely represent your teaching strengths, innovations, and development.
STEPS TO COLLECTING DOSSIER MATERIAL:
- Identify one place to store paper materials (a banker’s box or empty filing drawer) and one place to store electronic files (a folder on your computer or a web space).
- During the semester, copy and file in one of these two places:
- All course materials – syllabi, handouts, lecture notes, assignment information, tests and exams.
- TA training and course co-ordination materials.
- Feedback you’ve provided on student work that you feel was particularly representative or effective.
- Student work that demonstrates that students have met your goals for the course or for their learning.
- Information from mid-course evaluations.
- Any emails from students or colleagues about your teaching or mentorship.
- Materials from teaching-related committees, grant or teaching award applications, or other teaching-related administrative work.
- Any notes or journal entries about potential changes to your courses or teaching strategies, or observations of strategies or activities that were particularly successful (or that were particularly unsuccessful!).
- Any results and feedback from in-class observations.
- After the semester, add:
- Raw data and summary sheets from your student evaluation results.
- Records of student final grades (these might be useful in demonstrating the effectiveness of future changes or new strategies).
- Any reflections or ideas you develop for changing a course or your teaching strategies.
- Throughout the year, also add:
- Details, materials, and letters of attendance from any teaching workshops or other professional development activities you attend or deliver related to teaching
- Any information you receive about student outcomes or student activities related to your teaching or mentorship: acceptance into graduate and professional programs, jobs and internships, success in future courses.
- Information on participation in professional organizations related to university teaching or to teaching in your field.
- Information from any outreach or non-university teaching activities (e.g. copies of lecture notes, flyers advertising a lecture).
- Once a semester or year, review the materials that you’ve added. Make a note (perhaps with post-it notes or a particular file name) of materials that you think might be best suited to your eventual dossier. Also note any observations about your own teaching innovations or successful approaches that emerge from this review.
By collecting and storing such materials, when it comes time to compile your dossier you will have a wide range of valuable and representative teaching materials to use as evidence of your teaching effectiveness or as illustrations of your individual approach to teaching.