Showcasing Your Teaching in the Job Search

Material presented at a graduate-student workshop on Oct. 10, 2012:

Some general strategies:

  • Collect
    • Digital folder with sub-folders
    • Online teaching or course portfolio?
    • Reflect
      • Who are you?
      • What are you good at?
      • What’s your story?
      • Situate
        • How does your teaching situate your courses within your program’s curriculum? Your college’s requirements? UC’s General Education requirements?
        • How does your teaching advance those requirements?
        • Other contributions to curriculum development? Collaborative teaching initiatives?

Key Theme #1: The self-evaluation (application statement, cover letter)

That part of the job-search dossier where you have

  • The most control
  • The greatest opportunity for last-minute impact on the process (but don’t leave this for the last minute)
  • The strongest need for drafts and feedback (from mentors, fellow students)

Avoid the “Wall O’Text” syndrome

  • Headings and white space
  • Hyperlinks?

Write for multiple audiences

  • Search committee
  • Dean, faculty in different disciplines

Key Theme #2: Innovative pedagogies

  • Uses of instructional technology
    • Ways to vary lecture
    • Active-learning approaches
    • Undergrad research
    • Small-group learning
    • Experiential learning
    • Innovative assessment strategies
    • How is your teaching informed by the pedagogy literature for your discipline?

Key Theme #3: Multiple measures of student learning

  • Scores on pre-tests vs. end-of-term tests
  • Samples of graded student essays, lab reports, etc. (with feedback to the students)
  • Feedback from faculty mentors & reviewers
  • Later communications from students

 Key Theme #4: Peer observations

  • Good peer observations are ethnographies. What do you want the observer to notice?
  • Discussion before and after class with the peer reviewer:
    • What are your goals for the session?
    • Did you accomplish those goals?
    • Multiple observations?

Summative or formative feedback?

  • “Would you do a peer-observation letter for my job dossier”?” – Summative (and should go into the dossier)
  • “Would you give me some feedback on how you think I’m doing with my teaching?” – Formative (and might lead to a letter that goes into the dossier)

Key Theme #5: Course evaluations re improvements

  • Package and frame your sets of evals
  • Use evals to address a variety of teaching-related subjects
  • Collect a range from which to choose
    • New courses
    • Multiple versions of the same course
    • Course evals don’t ask the right questions? Then focus on the course and the learning outcomes, not the instructor
    • Supplement traditional forms with your own

Other possible solutions

  • Evaluation of the issues that are important to your teaching
  • Data through other assessment mechanisms (such as peer feedback, videos of your teaching, and a teaching portfolio)
  • Formative assessment during the middle of the term

Dee Fink on course evaluations:

Many course-evaluation questions look backwards into what has already been completed.

Fink argues that the more valuable course-evaluation questions look forward, towards what has changed in the student.

For instance:

  • Backwards-looking: “How effective was the instructor at explaining the research paper?”
  • Forwards-looking: “How prepared do you feel for writing research papers in future courses?”

What else has changed?

  • The emphasis is on what the student has learned and not what the instructor has taught.
  • The question reminds the student of one of the course goals (learning research skills).

Course evals as always formative:

  • What is the nature of the feedback you’re including on teaching?
  • What did you do with this feedback to improve your teaching?
  • What evidence do you have that demonstrates these changes were effective?

A teaching portfolio might contain

  • Teaching philosophy
  • Overview of teaching responsibilities
  • Sample course materials
    • Syllabi, handouts, assignments
    • Assessment information
    • Recognition of your classroom efforts
    • Professional development in teaching

Portfolio as scholarship:

  • Main point
  • Evidence in support of that point
  • Discussion of that evidence
  • Unifying conclusion

More on teaching portfolios at

An excellent one-page focus on the essence of teaching portfolios: