Tag Archives: teaching dossier

Teaching philosophy statements – Q&A with faculty members

I facilitated a short session on teaching philosophy statements (TPS) for participants in the Teaching Development Program (TDP) for New Faculty.

Based on requests from the TDP cohort members, I focussed specifically on:

  1. Looking at examples of strong TPSs
  2. Identifying belief statements in the opening and body of the 4 selected TPS samples
  3. Identifying alignment between beliefs and statements of evidence (evidence being “how I enact my beliefs”).

During the session, participants asked a number of questions. I have captured these questions and my brief responses below in case they may be helpful to others.

Q: How do I make my TPS different from other people’s TPSs? I’m worried that mine will read like everybody else’s.

ii: I guarantee that your TPS will be unique! Because you bring your own experiences, your disciplinary background, and your own content to the TSP—not to mention your personal writing style—it will read differently than your peers’ EVEN if you share similar beliefs.

Q: How many beliefs is too many or too few to include in a TPS?

ii: There is no specific number of beliefs that a reader expects to see in a TPS. Thinking in terms of themes may be helpful; you may want to use headers to guide your reader.

Q: How much do we need to ground our TPS in research/literature, or is it truly what I think and have done?

ii: The emphasis should be on what you think and have done. However, it is considered good practice to integrate a few references to the pedagogical literature as this shows that you take a scholarly approach to your teaching.

Q: Is it better to err on the side of using general terms or providing specific examples? For example, does it suffice to say that I use experiential education approaches or should be get specific?

ii: My preference is for the author to include a few specific examples that help me “see” them in action. If, for example, you use “experiential education” in your teaching, provide a specific example as evidence for how it aligns with your beliefs about teaching and learning and/or your beliefs about knowledge.

Q: Is it good practice to provide excerpts and detailed examples of what we’ve done?

Detailed examples will go into your appendices or in the Teaching Activities section of your dossier.

Q: Should we include a future looking statement?

ii: Many people highlight their goals and commitment to continuous growth in their teaching philosophy statement. Some people have it in the TPS and as a section of their teaching dossier. I like seeing a short version in the TPS and a more expanded version in the full dossier. Again, that’s my preference. It doesn’t mean that’s the “right” way to do it.

Q: Do I need to provide a summary statement in my TPS?

No, you don’t.

Revising (or writing) your teaching philosophy statement

2 pencils on yellow, teaching portfolioI’m facilitating a session on the teaching philosophy statement (TPS) next month. The entire focus of the session is to look at samples of strong TPS and “analyze” them in order to better understand how to write a TPS. This session is being designed in response to requests by faculty members who are part of the Teaching Development Program and who must, as part of the program requirements, write or revise their TPS.

Below are some useful (I hope) first steps. The steps were written with the new(er) faculty member in mind and/or for the person who is new to an institution. My thinking behind these steps is “How do I support faculty members in moving past the anxiety they feel as they think about revising or writing their TPS?”.


Reacquaint yourself with your TPS.

  1. Find your TPS.
  • Highlight all the phrases or sentences where you describe your beliefs about teaching.
  • Highlight (in another colour) all the phrases or sentences where you give succinct examples of how you enact these beliefs.
  • Reflect on whether the teaching activities you provide as examples align with your stated beliefs. (If they don’t, revise)

Inquire into your department’s expectations and/or guidelines for teaching dossiers for your specific appointment type.

Find out:

  • Are you required to have a teaching philosophy statement and dossier?
  • If so, for what specific purposes (merit, promotion, tenure, other?)?
  • Who reviews your dossier and when does that happen?
  • What constitutes a strong TPS or dossier in your department?

Connect with a few colleagues within your department and ask if they would be willing to share their teaching philosophy (or entire dossier) with you.

Other questions to consider asking your colleague(s):

  • Would you be willing to provide feedback on my TPS?
  • How have you used your TPS and/or dossier in your career progression?


Your (the reader’s) feedback and comments welcome! How do you support the faculty members you work with to get started?

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash