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A Teaching Portfolio is a collection of documented evidence from a variety of sources that showcase a faculty member’s teaching practice. The process of putting together a teaching portfolio is often a learning experience itself, allowing an instructor to reflect upon the significant aspects of teaching.

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Typically, you will want to focus on these aspects within a teaching portofolio:

  • Beliefs (your values, principles, what makes you unique as a teacher?) A Teaching Portfolio often begins with a Statement of Teaching Philosophy.
  • Actions (your teaching responsibilities, experiences, practices, approaches to teaching, contributions you have made)
  • Impact (evidence that your actions have made a difference in student learning, multiple sources or triangulation of data is preferred)

Categories

Many Teaching Portfolios that you see often include categories based on the sources of evidence (Teaching philosophy, Roles/Responsibilities, Courses taught, Course materials, Instructional Practices, Student evaluations, Honors/recognition, Teaching improvement efforts, Letters of Support, Future plans, etc.).

Faculty groups at DU have discussed the benefit of categorizing evidence of teaching using categories that represent growth and excellence in teaching. If your unit/dept does not already have pre-determined categories, consider providing your evidence in categories such as:

  • Sound Instructional Strategies
  • The Student Experience
  • Student Learning/Growth
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Teaching Commitments

DU’s recently updated P&T guidelines require evidence of teaching to come from multiple sources including: self-analysis, peers, and empirical data from students.

Different examples of evidence to collect annually and for a teaching portfolio can be found here, and here.

Sources of Evidence

There are many elements of a teaching portfolio that are easily obtained, including: teaching philosophy, courses taught – types/new preps, advising, supervision of students, teaching improvement activities, teaching awards/grants/workshops/presentations, service related to teaching, alumni feedback,  scholarship of teaching and learning, student rating form results, or other evidence of student learning.

In addition, a teaching portfolio might include instructor reflections about specific aspects of their teaching. Creating a short reflection to accompany your evidence allows you to frame the evidence appropriately, and also to clarify your own thinking. Such reflections could include:

  • A reflection of learning, changes, or insights gained from engaging in one of the OTL’s Formative Teaching Development Services.
  • A reflection of a specific activity or assignment (the reflection describing why and how you use this assignment/activity, what you’ve learned, student results or feedback, or sample student work)
  • A specific learning outcome for your class (the reflection tracing how you address this particular outcome throughout a course, and/or could focus on a previously unwritten goal, “I want my students to stop being afraid of math”)
  • A sample lesson plan (discussing in depth your goals, your actions and activities, and what resulted from one class period)
  • An assessment of learning (discussing how this assessment meets your goals, showing student results, sample student work with your feedback, and what you’ve learned)
  • An annotated syllabus (a reflection about the what/why/how of a course syllabus) Annotated syllabi examples
  • A collection of End-of-Course Memos, perhaps with a cover memo highlighting themes and major changes in the course.
  • Reflection on professional development activities about teaching (Professional Development Reflection)
  • Reflection on your student rating forms (see this helpful reflection exercise about student evaluations from Dunesque University)
  • A video walk through of your course on Canvas highlighting certain aspects of what you do and how.
  • A course design layout or alignment map showing how you assess and support the student learning goals. For example, Dee Fink’s 3 Column Table (see examples).
  • Showing how your course has fared using an educational rubric such as Quality Matters
  • Or many other options

Format

Check with your department about any format requirements for your portfolio. The DU Portfolio system provides the ability to showcase materials and provide different privacy access. See our Teaching Portfolio portfolio for examples and resources.

Additional Resources

 

24334511314_ead6411a92_kThis Spring the OTL will be begin new workshop offerings designed to help instructors articulate and document their teaching practice.  Join us!
 
Writing (or Rewriting) a Statement of Teaching Philosophy 
 
Have you written a teaching philosophy yet, or do you have one that could use some fresh thinking and renewed attention? A Statement of Teaching Philosophy is a simple document that represents a complex set of beliefs about teaching. The statement reflects how a teacher’s personal ideas and values impact their interactions with students and the way they teach. In this session, participants will explore their own values and attitudes towards teaching, construct some language around how to represent their teaching beliefs, and use a rubric to evaluate the essential aspects of a teaching philosophy statement. Bring your statement of teaching philosophy if you have one. 
 
Two identical sessions of this workshop will be offered in the OTL Conference Room:
 
Wed, April 6, 2:00-4:00 pm  Register
OR
Thurs, April 7, 10:00am-12:00 pm  Register
 
 
 
Telling Your Teaching Story: Documenting Evidence of Good Teaching
 
As DU faculty members are increasingly rewarded based on their teaching, we need additional methods of illustrating and explaining our instructional practices. This session is designed to provide the time and space for participants to develop, and perhaps even finish, a teaching reflection piece. Before this session, participants should select one aspect of their teaching practice (a syllabus, an assignment, one learning outcome) they’d like to document as part of their “teaching story.” During the session, they’ll engage in discussion, reflection, writing, and sharing as they develop their story and create an evidence-based record that can be used in annual reviews or teaching portfolios.
 
Two identical sessions of this workshop will be offered in the OTL Conference Room:
 
Thurs, April 14, 2:00-4:00 pm  Register
OR
Tues, April 26, 10:00am-12:00 pm  Register
 
 
 
Creating a Teaching Portfolio
 
Interested in creating a Teaching Portfolio to document and showcase your teaching practice? Schedule an individual session with OTL staff members who can provide examples and support you through the process. Contactbridget.arend@du.edu or kathy.keairns@du.edu to schedule an individual consultation.

Do you have 20 minutes to learn?List of sample 20 minute mentor videos

  • How to Minimize Cheating in the Classroom?
  • How to Reduce Student Apathy and Increase Motivation?
  • How to Make the Activities in Your Course More Inclusive?
  • How to use Technology to Improve Learning?
  • How to use Twitter to Improve Teaching & Learning?

Take advantage of the Office of Teaching & Learning’s 20-Minute Mentor Commons subscription!

About 20-Minute Mentor Commons

As a member of our campus community this online resource from Magna Publications is available at no cost to you. 20-Minute Mentor Commons offers on-demand versions of their popular 20-Minute Mentor programs, covering a broad range of topics. Most videos include a note taking guide, supplemental PDF, and a transcript.

How do I get started?

There are two ways to access the 20-Minute Mentor Videos and Supplemental Resources:

  1. 20-Minute Mentor Canvas Course – Log into Canvas and follow the instructions on the home page. Email otl@du.edu if you have problems.
  2. Request an account by emailing otl@du.edu. We will email you instructions and a link to the activation code.

Teaching Professor Newsletter

In addition, the OTL has a campus subscription to the Teaching Professor Newsletter, an 8-page document published 10 times per year with articles containing ideas and inspiration about current teaching issues.

If you’d like to join a list to receive copies of electronic newsletters as they are published, send an email to  bridget.arend@du.edu.

Faculty members have much to learn from each other regarding teaching practice, yet we rarely have the opportunity to see each other teach. But what if we could get a window into each others classrooms?

Mark your calendars for the Peer Classroom Visit Kick-off Breakfast from 9:00 – 10:00 am on Wed, Sept 16 in the OTL Conference Room AAC Room 345, and sign up for fall quarter today (by Sept 14)!

DU’s Office of Teaching and Learning will offer a peer classroom visit program for interested DU instructors starting in 2015. The purpose of this program is to provide a mutually-supportive opportunity for self-reflection and sharing of good practice. Through observing each other and discussing teaching informally, this program will allow faculty members an opportunity to reflect upon, enhance, and celebrate their teaching.

Here’s an example of what the program will look like:

  • Instructors will be matched into small “peer learning groups” of three instructors for one academic quarter.
  • Instructors attend a kick-off meeting to learn more about the program and its goals. The peer groups will have time at that meeting to meet each other and plan their observations.
  • Instructors observe at least one class taught by each member of their group during the quarter.
  • Peer groups will meet informally at least one time to share observations and reflections with their group members (focusing on what they’ve learned about their own teaching, not their colleagues’ performance).
  • Everyone will attend a celebratory lunch at the end of the quarter to share overall insights and takeaways.

There are two options available to participate in this program.

  1. Instructors interested in participating can sign up individually to be matched with other participating faculty members.
  2. Instructors can determine their own group of three and register it with the OTL.

 

Sign up to join a fall quarter group by Sept 14

 

Contact Bridget Arend or Virginia Pitts with any questions about this program.

A Philosophy of Teaching Statement is a simple document that represents a complex set of beliefs about teaching. The statement should reflect who you are as a teacher and how your personal ideas and values impact the way you teach. It is usually 1-2 pages in length (sometimes up to 4), written in first person, and contains both abstract beliefs and concrete examples. A well-developed teaching statement allows you to continually self-assess and reflect on your teaching practice throughout your career. As your philosophy of teaching evolves over time, so might your philosophy of teaching statement.

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Within your teaching statement you will reflect on some essential questions about what it means for you to teach in higher education.

Here are some potential questions to get you started thinking and writing about your teaching:

  • Why do I teach? What are my ultimate goals for students?
  • What role do I expect students to play?
  • How does my identity/background influence my teaching?
  • When I am teaching, when am I most effective? How do I know this?
  • How do I truly know when and what my students are learning?
  • What parts of teaching most inspire me?
  • How have my beliefs about teaching changed over time?
  • Describe your most challenging teaching moment. What did you learn about yourself, and about teaching, from this experience?
  • Create a metaphor to explain teaching and learning.

Instruments to help you reflect upon teaching philosophy

Sometimes it can be difficult to articulate in words your beliefs and goals for teaching. The instruments listed below can help you self-assess your teaching goals and find some language to describe your practice.

Sample teaching philosophy statements

Resources for writing a teaching philosophy

A Rubric for assessing the quality of a teaching philosophy

Teaching Portfolio Resources

 

 

The Office of Teaching and Learning was pleased to host the first Teaching and Learning Week at the beginning of the Spring quarter. During the week, DU faculty and staff members were engaged in over 20 different workshops and roundtable discussions on a variety of topics, hosted by different departments and support units across DU.

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Many of the workshop materials and follow-up resources are now linked from the program schedule page on our website next the appropriate session.

In addition, video-recordings from the talks given by our special guest James Lang are available online:

Although there were many good ideas shared during the week, comments in our feedback survey indicate that many participants appreciated James Lang’s concept of “small teaching” – the idea that even small changes can make immediate and important impact in your teaching practice. Here are a few comments sharing what some faculty members have already implemented:

“I have already implemented two things I learned from the final keynote lunch. I have used the association exercise and also the method of asking students to speculate before giving them answers.”

“I’m thinking about improving learning in my course through the little changes I do to circle back through material or ask pre-quiz questions.”

“Enhance my minute papers based on research of increased learning from open questions about content. More time for faculty/student and student/student connection based on that research.”

“Loved the final presentation with the small changes ideas where you don’t have to implement something big to make a difference.”

 

If you participated in a session during Teaching and Learning Week and have not yet had a chance to do so, please take a moment to share your feedback with us.

We want to thank everyone who took some time this week to share their ideas, network with others, and learn something new!

 

On the first day of the OTL’s Teaching and Learning Week, we started off with a session dedicated to DU’s “veteran” faculty members. Staying Inspired about Teaching through Your Career brought together a panel of three faculty members to discuss ideas and thoughts for continual motivation and energy around teaching.

Moderator Bridget Arend shared a few findings from studies about faculty career stages, happily noting that at least some studies show career/life satisfaction rising in later career/life stages.

David Thompson from the Sturm College of Law shared his secret of scheduling a personal retreat every year. David gets away to Santa Fe where he has protected a block of time to read through the articles, references, and ideas he collects in a large box throughout the year.

M.E. Warlick, from the Department of Art and Art History, discussed the value of variety in teaching assignments over the years. She shared examples where rotation and changes in teaching, along with past team teaching experiences, have kept her teaching energized. She has appreciated opportunities to watch others teach over the years.

Chip Reichardt from the Department of Psychology shared the philosophy of teaching he has been developing over the years – that of teaching thinking skills. He described how, much like a coach pushes students physically, he explains to his students that they are learning to think, and in turn, should be challenged and even reach points of mental exhaustion.

Other session participants shared ideas and challenges, and some of the resources shared include:

  • Much discussion centered around helping students see the relevance in learning. There is often a challenge to stay current with today’s students, but the Beloit College Mindset List is one way to see the realities of today’s incoming class.
  • Others noted challenges with managing an overwhelming amount of information, articles, and digital resources. Among other solutions, the library’s support of Browzine was recommended.
  • Four stages of mastery/competence (ranging from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence) were discussed and joked about as a framework to keep in mind while we are teaching.
  • Former DU Professor Karen Kitchener’s model of Reflective Judgement was also brought up as a useful framework when we want to appropriately target our instruction and maintain realistic expectations of our students.
  • Chip mentioned Alphie Kohn’s work and subtle revelation that no matter how much we don’t believe it, we will always have a new group of students, and thus new adventures in teaching!

David and others are experimenting with journaling after teaching as a way to provide some continual balance in our teaching practice. And when all else fails, Lynn Scofield-Clark shared her approach of keeping a file labeled, “good emails for bad days!”

 

Are you wondering why students often don’t come to class prepared? Curious about what they are really learning, and not learning? Are you looking for some new strategies and approaches?  Join one of our Winter workshops!

Are they really learning? Methods for gathering formative feedback to improve teaching

Our tests, papers, and assignments allow us to see how well students have learned. But, there are ways to find out more about what they are learning along the way.  What did students actually learn from the last class activity or homework? Are they starting to grasp the important concepts or organize their thinking in ways consistent with the discipline?  What methods can we use that allow us insight into our students’ thinking and learning progress, without taking too much time? In this session we will explore and see examples of a variety of methods for gathering feedback on student learning.

January 26, 3:00 – 4:30 pm
OTL Conference Room, 345 Anderson Academic Commons
Facilitators: Bridget Arend and Rob Flaherty

Register here

Why don’t my students come to class prepared?

DU instructors are using more active learning methods in class. In order to make the most out of class time, it is critical that students come to class prepared. However, this is not always the case. In this session, we will discuss common reasons why students do not prepare for class, and explore a number of methods instructors can use to help motivate their students.

February 11, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
OTL Conference Room, 345 Anderson Academic Commons
Facilitator: Bridget Arend

 Register here

Faculty members at DU strive for ongoing teaching excellence and at DU we value the Teacher-Scholar model. In our efforts towards ongoing development of teaching excellence, we have provided resources and guidelines for evaluating teaching.

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What is good teaching?

It is important to start with some assumptions about teaching. There is no one definition of good teaching, and good teaching comes in an array of forms. However, there is quite a bit of literature about what constitutes teaching effectiveness, in areas such as how people learn, course design, teaching methods, facilitation skills, classroom climate, educational technology, inclusive excellence, learning assessment, etc.

We know that, much like research, teaching performance is an art and skill in continual improvement and development. It is important that at DU we provide a culture where all faculty members are encouraged to continually reflect and continuously improve their teaching practice.

Evaluating Teaching

**At DU, many units are exploring more balanced approaches to evaluating teaching. Visit our Teaching Excellence Portfolio for a brief overview of some of these DU examples.**

Although there are varying opinions and research around Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs)/Student Ratings of Instruction (SRIs), most people agree that they should not be used as the sole basis of evaluating someone’s teaching performance and effort. At DU, the 2005 Teaching Task Force, the 2011 Faculty Senate Teaching Excellence Initiative, and the 2012 Renew DU Faculty Development Initiative have all recommended using multiple sources of evidence and effort when conducting annual reviews and reviews for promotion and tenure.

Evidence from Students

Although student end-of-course rating forms should not be used as the sole basis of someone’s teaching performance, students can and should provide essential feedback on teaching. The resources below can help in the effective use of student rating forms. In addition, other forms of student feedback – midterm formative feedback, student letters, student learning as shown in coursework and assignments (not grades) – can provide additional evidence of teaching performance.

Evidence from Peers/Chairs

Colleagues and often provide feedback about teaching in areas such as: appropriateness of course materials and methods, and breadth and depth and relevance of content and course structure. Samples of teaching materials, syllabi, and samples of student work can be reviewed along with classroom observations.

Evidence from the Instructor

As teaching is an ongoing developmental activity, the instructor’s reflection and self-assessment of teaching is valuable not only as a source of evidence, but as a tool for continuous improvement.

Additional Resources

 

Gathering student feedback about teaching generally comes at the end of the course through student rating forms. But did you know there are other ways to gather feedback that may be more effective and timely?

Formative feedback on teaching (feedback that is collected solely for the purpose of continual improvement) is an important component of advancing your teaching practice. Getting feedback from your students during the term can be a good way to find out how things are going, to give a students a chance to express their feelings in a medium other than the end-of-course student evaluations, and to allow any changes in teaching to be made while students can still benefit.

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Here are a few of the many ways you can collect mid-term feedback from your students. No matter what method you choose, encourage students to provide constructive feedback, to ignore aspects you cannot change (time/size of class), and let them know you will take their feedback seriously.

Surveys

You can administer a survey to students either during class or online. If the survey is anonymous, students may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and suggestions. However, be aware that especially with small classes, their responses might not be truly anonymous.

You can use just a few open-ended questions, or a mixture of open-ended and closed-ended questions so that you not only get a sense of how many students agree with certain statements, but also allow a space to collect feedback you may not be anticipating. It’s best to use just a few questions so this process is relatively quick and easy.

Examples of open-ended questions:

  • What aspects of this course are helping you learn? Give two examples.
  • What has been the most valuable assignment/class session/activity so far?
  • What suggestions do you have to improve the instructor’s teaching?
  • What could be changed to help your learning? Be specific.

A Faculty Focus article provided additional suggestions for open ended questions, such as asking students to respond to any three of these statements. In this course:

  • it most helped my learning of the content when…because…
  • it would have helped my learning of the content if…because…
  • the assignment that contributed the most to my learning was… because…
  • the reading that contributed the most to my learning was… because…
  • the kinds of homework problems that contributed most to my learning were…because…
  • the approach I took to my own learning that contributed the most for me was…because…
  • the biggest obstacle for me in my learning the material was… because…
  • a resource I know about that you might consider using is…because…
  • I was most willing to take risks with learning new material when… because…
  • during the first day, I remember thinking…because…
  • what I think I will remember five years from now is…because…

Examples of rating scale questions (1 = Never; 5 = Always)

  • I understand what is expected of me in preparation and participation.
  • I feel encouraged to participate in class and respond to others.
  • I get clear responses to what I say in class; I find out how to improve.
  • The assignments are clear to me; I know what the task is.
  • The instructor effectively directs and stimulates discussion.
  • The instructor explains material clearly.
  • The instructor shows genuine interest in students.
  • The instructor provides helpful comments on papers/exams.
  • The instructor is tolerant of different opinions expressed in class.
  • The instructor adjusts the pace of class to the students’ level of understanding.
  • The instructor seems well-prepared.
  • The instructor stimulates my interest in the material.
  • The instructor is effective, overall, in helping me learn.

Some instructors have used the Stop/Start/Change approach where students are asked to list one thing the instructor should stop doing, one thing the instructor could start doing, and one aspect to change about the course. This provides an easy format for students to share their feedback.

Class Discussion

If good rapport with students has been established and the class is relatively small, consider holding a discussion in class about how things are going. Students may not be as comfortable sharing their true feelings in this format. However, this approach can be effective for gathering feedback about a specific assignment or aspect of the class, especially if want to dig deeper or if there are differing opinions in the class.

OTL mid-course student feedback session

Office of Teaching and Learning staff members can conduct mid-course student feedback sessions for DU instructors.  A mid-course student feedback session is a process designed to collect large amounts of detailed feedback from students in a short amount of time. Students discuss the course’s strengths and make suggestions for improvement using forms and small groups. Learn more and schedule a session.

Following up on the feedback

No matter what method you use to gather student feedback, it’s important to follow up on their feedback. Students will likely be more constructive if they know you are actually using it to improve their learning experience.

At a minimum, take a few minutes during a class session, or send an email, to acknowledge and summarize the feedback. Share how you will act on this feedback or propose a few options for discussion. You do not have to implement their suggestions, especially if the feedback is unreasonable (less reading or just give us the answers). What you should do however is explain why things are set up the way they are. Perhaps you could provide more guidance on the readings (here’s the things you should be looking for, you don’t need to memorize every detail) or explain your teaching philosophy (I want you to struggle with these problems before you see the right answer so you can apply both the correct and incorrect paths to future problems).

Additional Resources

 


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