Introduction

Did You Know?

A thorough teaching dossier is a crucial first step in the preparation for award nominations for major institutional, provincial and national awards. The criteria for many prestigious teaching awards focus around elements that are either standard to teaching dossiers, such as the Statement of Teaching Philosophy, or that can be pulled from your evidence and documentation.

For example, major awards often look at how instructors have improved their teaching in response to feedback, have participated in course or curricular renewal, or undertaken educational leadership initiatives (such as mentoring a colleague in teaching or sharing/disseminating educational materials). Tracking such accomplishments through the teaching dossier can provide an advantage when nominated for an award.

FOR FACULTY AND GRADUATE STUDENTS

As described by Seldin, Miller and Seldin (2010) in The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/ Tenure Decisions, a teaching dosser contains “documents and materials which collectively suggest the scope and quality of a teacher’s performance” (p. 4).

To accomplish this, a teaching dossier:

  1. Describes your approach to teaching;
  2. Provides evidence of your teaching effectiveness and teaching outcomes; and
  3. Documents your efforts at teaching improvement.

Teaching dossiers can serve multiple purposes, and can be used both as a tool and a resource for your own teaching development, and
as a means by which others can assess your teaching. The primary focus of this document is the preparation of a teaching dossier as part of the teaching assessment process for hiring, tenure review or continuing status review, and promotion.

Note that at the University of Toronto only Divisional Guidelines on the assessment of teaching have the force of policy. For this reason, faculty members should always refer to Divisional Guidelines as well as disciplinary norms or expectations when preparing a teaching dossier for the purpose of career advancement.

As a means of evaluating teaching, the teaching dossier emerges from the premise that there is no single way to define effective teaching.
Within the context of departmental, faculty, or disciplinary expectations of what constitutes effective teaching, a dossier allows each instructor to highlight the approaches and strategies that have proven to be effective for them, and that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to teaching effectiveness and improvement. Dossiers thereby allow teaching to be evaluated systematically and rigorously while allowing for flexibility, innovation and contextualization of teaching goals and approaches. This means that in developing the dossier you must focus on demonstrating the effectiveness of your own approach to teaching by incorporating evidence of your own teaching successes throughout the dossier.

The teaching dossier combines two primary components:

Narrative
This written portion of the dossier comprises the Statement of Teaching Philosophy and additional narrative descriptions of your
teaching, and length can vary greatly depending on teaching context and divisional requirements. This narrative piece gives you an opportunity to fully describe and contextualize your teaching approach, experience, and materials (see Section 4: Possible Contents and Organization of the Dossier and Section 6: Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy).

Artifacts (supporting documentation and appendices)
This portion of the dossier provides specific examples or pieces of evidence to support the claims you make regarding the approaches to teaching you espouse as effective, i.e. that they facilitate student learning. This evidence should be based on multiple sources, including peer and student evaluation of your teaching, sample course materials, and your own reflection on student engagement and performance. In choosing these supporting documents, you should be selective in providing representative evidence that aligns with and supports any claims about your teaching that you make in the narrative portion of your dossier. See Table 1 below for an illustration of how this alignment might work in your dossier. The artifacts and examples that you choose should communicate a clear and concise message about your teaching. Keeping in mind that the artifacts and examples chosen need to be selective and should highlight teaching accomplishments and teaching development, the length of this section is limited only by what a division requires as far as evidence of teaching effectiveness, and by what an individual faculty member deems appropriate for showcasing their teaching strengths.

TABLE 1

For descriptions of the processes and procedures involved in tenure review, continuing status review and promotion, as well as associated timelines and criteria, please refer to the links below.

LINKS TO POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Policy and Procedures on Academic Appointments (2015): http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Policies/ PDF/ppoct302003.pdf

Policy and Procedures Governing Promotions (1980): http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Policies/ PDF/ppapr201980.pdf

Policies and Procedures Governing Promotions in the Teaching Stream: http://www.governingcouncil.lamp4.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/p0105-papfgp-2016-2017pol.pdf

Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life, Amendments for Pre-Tenure Faculty: http://www.faculty.utoronto.ca/changes/amendments-for-pre-tenure-faculty/

Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life, Changes for Teaching Stream Faculty: http://www.faculty.utoronto.ca/changes/changes-for-teaching-stream-faculty/

Divisional Guidelines on the Assessment of Teaching Effectiveness http://www.aapm.utoronto.ca/appendices

Note: Peer Observations of Teaching

Some divisions require a classroom observation as part of the review process for tenure review, continuing status review, and promotion. In such cases, the protocol to be followed for the observation is laid out in the Divisional Guidelines. In all cases, a classroom observation is a recommended best practice, particularly at the interim review stage or probationary review stage when formative feedback on instruction can be highly beneficial. For information on processes and practices related to peer observation of teaching, please see the CTSI guide Peer Observation of Teaching.

Please note that CTSI can conduct an in-class observation but only at the request of an instructor and only for formative professional development, not as part of a formal review process for tenure or continuing status review or promotion.