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Reflecting On and Documenting Your Teaching Effectiveness

Posted by on Friday, July 23, 2010 in News.

With the academic year drawn to a close, now is a good time to reflect on teaching experiences while they’re still fresh.   At a recent CFT workshop, 23 faculty gathered to do just that, exploring how to write about teaching, why it’s important to do so, audiences and purposes for such reflections, and concrete strategies for refining teaching documents throughout an academic career.   Participants worked individually, in small groups, and with CFT consultants to refine pieces of writing, such as statements of teaching endeavors for upcoming reviews, make sense of the year, and plan for the future.

Below are a few highlights from materials distributed at the workshop.  If you’d like more information about reflecting on and documenting your teaching, please stop by, or call, the Center for Teaching (322-7290).

Reflecting on Teaching:  What?  For Whom?  Why?

Often, the motivation to improve one’s teaching by revising practices or experimenting with new initiatives stems from reflection.  This reflection often focuses on feedback received from others, such as student evaluations or peer reviews.  Reflection further involves one’s own assessment of experiences, through self-observation and activities that foster self-analysis such as teaching workshops or individual consultations, and/or pedagogical research.

Written reflections on teaching can be used for personal, professional, or pedagogical purposes. While teaching statements are increasingly an important part of hiring and tenure processes, they also are effective in helping one clearly and coherently conceptualize his or her approaches to and experiences of teaching and learning, and deepen and renew their commitment to values and goals for their teaching.

At Vanderbilt, promotion and review processes require faculty to reflect on their work and document their progress in teaching, research and service.  When reporting on teaching, faculty are encouraged to articulate their teaching philosophy and objectives; describe past and planned course and curriculum development; and explain pedagogical initiatives, innovations or experiments and their results.

The Center for Teaching provides one-on-one consultations on evaluating and documenting your teaching.  As we assist you in preparing your teaching documentation, we work with you to reflect deliberately on your practice as a means of deepening your understanding of pedagogical goals and methods, and linking those goals and methods to student learning.

For additional suggestions and information on reflecting on and documenting your teaching, see our teaching guides on Teaching Statements, Teaching Portfolios, and Making Sense of Course Evaluation Feedback from Students.


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