Teaching Dossier Fact Sheet

What is a teaching dossier?

  • A teaching dossier (aka teaching portfolio) is to teaching what a CV is to research. It describes documents and materials, which collectively suggest the scope, quality, and impact of teaching (Seldin 2010).
  • Presents an integrated summary of one’s teaching philosophy, approaches, accomplishments and effectiveness through a reflective narrative and curated assembly of “robust and accurate evidence” based on multiple sources (Kenny et al 2018: 6). Key characteristics of a dossier are:  
    • A central narrative piece, which describes your teaching philosophy and highlights important components and evidence in the dossier.
    • A purposeful representation of ‘best work’ in Appendices illustrating your performance and effectiveness.
  • Varies in length anywhere from 5-20 pages depending on stage of career and purpose, but typically includes the following components and range from 5-8 pages (based on Holmes, Focused Dossier Proposal):
  1. Teaching Philosophy (central narrative) “What I believe and why” e.g. beliefs about teaching, approach, goals, strategies, methods.  
  2. Teaching Responsibilities (strategies and actions) “What I do and how” e.g. description or list of courses taught, supervisory roles, number of courses and graduate students, curriculum development, teaching methods / practices and activities.
  3. Results and Accomplishments (impact or outcomes) “What were the results and what did I learn?” e.g. teaching awards, publications, contributions; changes or innovations to teaching, and reflections on methods or changes.
  4. Professional Development and Future Plans “How will I improve and grow?” e.g. sessions or conferences, leading teaching groups, workshops, SoTL, publications.
  5. Appendices of Evidence (artifacts) “What evidence best demonstrates my strategies and accomplishments?” e.g. student surveys, awards, letters/comments, syllabi, assignments, PRT. Includes evidence from Self, Peers, and Students 
  • Teaching dossiers are evaluated holistically, as criteria may be found in multiple sections; evaluation should be based on pre-determined criteria and evidence provided in the dossier to ensure reliability.
  • Resources might include Dossier Guidelines and evaluation tools such as guiding questions, checklists, or rubric for the different components. 

Why use a teaching dossier?1 

  • Best tool for a multifaceted or complementary approach, it is the most effective way to integrate multiple forms and sources of evidence, providing a more accurate and reliable base for formative and summative decisions than using only one source, such as student evaluations (Berk 48, 49). 
  • Provides a method for supporting claims empirically with evidence and for contextualizing multiple forms of evidence.
  • Facilitates a systematic, scholarly approach to teaching and learning – it offers both a method for collecting and documenting evidence and a framework for reflecting on teaching in order to innovate, grow, or improve accordingly. 
  • Instructor composed, a teaching dossier balances systematic evaluation with faculty control.  
  • Teaching dossier components align with teaching effectiveness dimensions (DEED) proposed by CTAPT. In addition, information and evidence described in other annual performance forms potentially may be incorporated into the teaching dossier.  

Potential concerns or barriers to be overcome by the University of Waterloo2

  • Time and effort to develop and review.
  • Unfamiliarity with reflexive writing process. 
  • Need for guidelines or tools for evaluating a teaching dossier. 
  • Concerns about validity, reliability, subjectivity, and bias towards certain writing styles or evaluator’s own / particular pedagogies and teaching methods or approaches.  

Best practices

  • Clear procedures and process that acknowledge and address time. 
  • Well-defined and known criteria for teaching and learning.
  • Gather evidence early and often.
  • Providing evidence of teaching combined with clear procedures for evaluating evidence ensures reliability and reduce bias.
  • Available resources such as guidelines for developing and tools for evaluating teaching dossiers.
  • Training and support for developing AND evaluating teaching dossiers.
  • Awareness of pedagogical and disciplinary practices. 
  • A culture that values and rewards teaching. 

1 See Barnard 2001; Bell and Cooper 2013; Chism 2007: 6; Gormally et al 2014: 188; Iqbal 2014: 113-5; Mager et al 2014 Schonwetter et al. 2002: 91; Seldin 2010: 43; Smith 2014; Teoh et al. 2016: 1; Thomas et al. 2014: 150.

2 See Barnard 2001; Bell and Cooper 2013; Chism 2007: 6; Gormally et al 2014: 188; Iqbal 2014: 113-5; Mager et al 2014 Schonwetter et al. 2002: 91; Seldin 2010: 43; Smith 2014; Teoh et al. 2016: 1; Thomas et al. 2014: 150.