Showcasing Your Teaching in the Job Search
Material presented at a graduate-student workshop on Oct. 10, 2012:
Some general strategies:
- Digital folder with sub-folders
- Online teaching or course portfolio?
- Who are you?
- What are you good at?
- What’s your story?
- 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
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.
- 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: