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Professional Development

This section provides Ryerson faculty and graduate students with key information needed for professional development in teaching, from evaluating your own teaching to developing your teaching philosophy or publishing your research.

Ryerson currently requires faculty to submit a teaching dossier as part of their tenure binder. In addition, the Chang School requires dossiers for job applications for teaching positions. Many internal and external awards also require a teaching dossier. Though they are needed for these jobs and commendations, many faculty do not understand how to create a dossier.

Teaching dossiers are intended to provide a description and record of a member's major teaching accomplishments and strengths in a manner that conveys the scope and quality of the faculty member's teaching. Dossiers vary widely between faculties; however there are a few basic guidelines that every dossier must meet.

If the dossier is being prepared for tenure review, the guidelines are set out in the RFA Collective Agreement (Article 5.8 C)

If the dossier is being prepared for a Chang School job application, please refer to the Chang School guidelines on dossier preparation.

PDF fileBest Practices: Understanding Teaching Dossiers at Ryerson

As stated in Section C of Article 5.8 of the RFA Collective Agreement, this section should include “a statement of the faculty member’s philosophy, objectives and methods of teaching;"

A teaching philosophy should:

  • Discuss the faculty member’s view of teaching and learning.
  • Contain reflections on the faculty member’s experiences teaching.
  • Describe learning environments the faculty member works in.
  • Demonstrate the faculty member’s understanding of teaching practices.
  • Discuss relations between the faculty member and their students.
  • Show knowledge of the faculty member’s discipline.
  • Demonstrate the faculty member’s desire to grow as a teacher.
  • Show the faculty member’s understanding of the institutional climate.

Kaplan et al. (2008) have divided the content of a statement of teaching philosophy into five measurable characteristics. As part of their research, Kaplan et al. asked search committees to rank the most important characteristics of a statement of teaching philosophy. Based on this, a teaching philosophy should:

  1. Offer evidence of practice; including specific examples of how theory is linked with actual teaching experiences
  2. Be student centered, attuned to differences in student ability, learning style or level; including specific evidence of methods of instruction and assessment that go beyond traditional lecture and testing methodology, and that address the diversity of the student body
  3. Demonstrate reflection; including specific examples of struggle with instructional challenges and how they were resolved, changes made, and an outline of future development as a teacher
  4. Convey valuing of teaching including setting a tone or language that conveys enthusiasm for teaching and of considering it on par with research pursuits
  5. Be well written, clear and readable.

Ryerson Faculty Teaching Philosophies

Teaching philosophies are typically around two to five pages, single-spaced. The LTO has collected teaching philosophies from winners of the Ryerson Faculty Teaching Awards to be used as examples when reviewing teaching philosophies.

Formative feedback on teaching is a crucial part of the ongoing cycle of evaluation, reflection, and refinement aimed at improving your teaching practice. This form of self-assessment allows you to adapt your teaching to better serve the needs of your students by identifying what is working well in the classroom and what isn’t (Berk, 2006). Engaging in this continuous cycle of evaluation ensures the effectiveness of both the design and delivery of your courses and can also be used as evidence of your own professional development in teaching.

PDF fileBest Practices: Evaluating Your Teaching

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a synthesis of teaching, learning, and research in higher education that brings a scholarly lens to what happens in the learning environment. The goal for SoTL research is to understand or improve student learning and the teaching practices that affect student learning. In SoTL the researcher is the instructor and the classroom is the site of inquiry (University of Calgary; Dalhousie University; Sheridan College). 

SoTL is inquiry focused on student learning. It looks at disciplinary knowledge and skills, and the cultivation of attitudes or habits connected to learning. It is grounded in the disciplinary, institutional, environmental, or cultural context in which learning is taking place (Felton).

Visit the Library's guide to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Resources Contact 

Michelle Schwartz
Educational Developer
Ext. 552094
michelle.schwartz@ryerson.ca