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

To accomplish this, a teaching dossier:

  1. Describes your approach to teaching;
  2. Provides evidence of your 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 resource for your own teaching development, and as a means by which others can assess your teaching. The primary focus of this document is a teaching dossier intended to be used for the evaluation of your teaching for hiring, tenure, promotion, and teaching awards.

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 guidelines or expectations of what constitutes effective teaching, a dossier allows each instructor to highlight the approaches and strategies that have proven to be effective for him or her, 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 by incorporating evidence of your teaching successes throughout the dossier.

The teaching dossier accomplishes these tasks by combining two primary components:

  1. The first is a statement of teaching philosophy and additional narrative documents, usually totalling between 10 and 20 pages long. These narrative descriptions give you an opportunity to describe and contextualize your teaching approach, experience, and materials (see Section 5: Possible Contents and Organization of the Dossier for examples of possible organization for this material and Section 7: Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy, for details about the contents of this section).
  2. The second section of your dossier, the appendices, will provide specific examples or pieces of evidence to prove that the approach to teaching you espouse is effective; that is, that it facilitates 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 selecting these supporting documents, you should be selective in providing representative evidence of your teaching effectiveness by including documents that directly reflect the claims you make about your teaching in the narrative portion of the dossier and that send a clear and concise message about your teaching. See, for example, the organization chart adapted from the University of Guelph Teaching Support Services website.