Faculty self-assessment is core to any evidence-based approach to evaluating teaching. Most four-year colleges and universities use faculty self-assessment when evaluating teaching (1). In addition to providing the instructor’s perspective on and analysis of their teaching, self-assessment also contextualizes other forms of data submitted to the committee, including peer reviews and student evaluations. Too, self-assessment practices can provide faculty members with systematic and ongoing reflection on their own teaching.
We recommend that review and promotion committees use faculty self-assessment in the context of articulated department norms around self-assessment as core data in the evaluation of teaching.
Departments decide the kinds of self-assessment instructors should use in review and promotion decisions, as well as how often instructors should reflect on their teaching﹘whether it be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly–and in what forms.
Research: Teaching statements and portfolios
A Teaching Statement provides a central way for review and promotion committees to assess an instructor’s pedagogical practices and the reasoning behind them. Additionally, instructors may produce a teaching portfolio to demonstrate and evidence claims in the Teaching Statement.
As a purposeful essay on teaching values and practices, the teaching statement, sometimes known as a Teaching Philosophy Statement, provides an opportunity to reflect on and communicate what individual instructors do and why. In one to two pages, Teaching Statements often include:
- Description: The instructor’s pedagogical goals and teaching practices that support them
- Analysis: Reflection on teaching and how this informs teaching practices
- Empirical data: Experiences or observations of student learning on which decisions about teaching are based
A teaching portfolio is a curated collection of materials documenting teaching goals and practice in support of the Teaching Statement. Teaching portfolios can be “flexible enough to be used for review and promotion decisions or to provide the stimulus and structure for self-reflection about areas in need of improvement (2).”
At a number of universities, review and promotion committees consider teaching portfolios when evaluating teaching because they can provide a coherent and succinct view of an instructor’s experience and approach to teaching.
Documents should be well organized and annotated in a teaching portfolio to illustrate and evidence an instructor’s teaching philosophy; materials may include:
- Teaching Philosophy/Statement
- Short-term and long-term teaching goals
- Teaching responsibilities
- Teaching objectives, strategies, methodologies
- Evidence of student learning (cognitive or affective)
- Evidence of innovation
- Student evaluations for multiple courses using summative questions
- Classroom observations by faculty peers or administrators
- Review of teaching materials by colleagues inside or outside the institution
- Representative and detailed course syllabi
- Teaching recognition and awards
A course portfolio – what one faculty member calls his “notes for next time” – can serve as a powerful tool for reflection and self-evaluation from year to year.
Contents: Syllabus, course materials, assignments, critical analysis of teaching, faculty reflection, and student feedback.
Regularly recording brief reflections on course materials helps instructors understand what to keep and/or change when they teach the class again.
Guiding questions might include:
- What did I improve or innovate in this course?
- What worked well this quarter? What do I think supported student learning?
- What did students learn?
- What does my students’ performance say about the effectiveness of teaching practices?
- What assignments, readings, etc. will I keep the next time I teach this course?
- What resources do I need to support my teaching?
- How can I teach this better next time?
Advice for review and promotion
Set unit-driven expectations
Provide clear guidance on what you and your department or unit expect to see in self-assessments. Consider Teaching Statements and portfolios in the context of these shared norms for self-assessment.
Consider self-assessment as core data to evaluate the instructor’s teaching and in the context of other data such as feedback from peers and students, as well as evidence of student learning. Taken together, materials should provide information about an intentional approach to pedagogy.
In Teaching Statements, look for specific evidence of purposeful teaching. Articulations of teaching goals and values will often be clearer in descriptions of experiences and practices than in broad statements of philosophy.
Value responsiveness and growth
Look for evidence that the instructor seeks out and responds to feedback from students and peers and demonstrates sensitivity to student, departmental, and disciplinary needs.
Take the long view
It is often helpful to consider the long view of teaching both in evaluation and self-assessment. Innovations in pedagogy require experimentation and refinement, which take time.
Follow college, departmental, or unit guidelines
Be mindful of the norms provided by your college, department, or unit, and make sure you discuss your work in relation to given guidelines and expectations.
Be specific when articulating your pedagogical goals and values. Provide evidence of your goals and values through concrete examples of how you put these goals into practice. Avoid vague, general, and/or idyllic statements that could read as generic rather than purposeful.
Demonstrate responsiveness and growth
Share how and why you solicit and respond to feedback from students and peers. Include examples of challenges, adaptations, and lessons learned. If you have received transformative feedback through peer review or student evaluations, discuss how you have incorporated that feedback into teaching. Show responsiveness to student, departmental, and disciplinary needs in your teaching practice.
Articulate your own value
How are you carrying on excellent traditions or innovating in teaching? How have you done this over the course of your career? What values motivate your pedagogical approach?
Present a coherent portrait of your pedagogy throughout the Teaching Statement and portfolio. Be sure the materials you select for the portfolio align clearly with your Teaching Statement.
Do not assume your reviewers will know of all aspects of your teaching. Account for all relevant aspects of your past and present work, highlighting productive transformation and/or consistent demonstration of your approach and values.
- Vanderbilt University’s Teaching Statements offers reflection questions and exercises to help you begin writing a teaching statement.
- Ohio State University’s Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement provides an overview of the content and format of teaching statement with examples from several disciplines.
- University of Michigan’s Writing A Statement Of Teaching Philosophy For The Academic Job Search includes a rubric (page 7), for self-evaluating your Teaching Statement.
- Berk, R.A. (2005). Survey of 12 strategies to measure teaching effectiveness. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 17(1), pp. 48-62.
- Seldin, P. (2004). The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions, 3rd ed. Bolton, MA: Anker.