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Best Practices

The LTO Best Practices

Issue No. 59: Designing Your Dossier

Welcome to the fifty-ninth issue of The LTO Best Practices. Each month, the Learning & Teaching Office will be spotlighting a timely topic in education and professional development in teaching. This October, our topic is "Designing Your Dossier."

For more information on creating a teaching dossier, visit our page of resources on Dossier Design

If you would like to receive feedback on your teaching dossier, consider participating in our Dossier Mentorship Program.

Check out our page of Teaching Tips handouts for more downloadable documents on a variety of teaching topics.


Best Practices

Past issues of Best Practices have focused on getting started with building a teaching dossier. This issue will focus on creating effective summaries of your teaching evaluations.

If the dossier is being prepared for tenure review, the guidelines are set out in the RFA Collective Agreement (Article 5.8 C). With respect to teaching evaluations, the RFA Collective Agreement states that a dossier should include:

"The results of the Faculty Course Survey (Appendix F) and any letters and testimonials and an indication whether solicited or not solicited. The member shall provide information about measures of respondent confidentiality with regard to student evaluations, except in the case of the Faculty Course Survey (Appendix F);"

If the dossier is being prepared for a Chang School job application, please refer to the Chang School guidelines on dossier preparation. With respect to teaching evaluations, the Change School requires:

  • Formal student survey results and teaching evaluations (Faculty Course Survey, CESAR, etc.) from at least the past three (3) years
  • Peer evaluations and/or assessments of your teaching

Creating an Effective Dossier

An effective teaching dossier will:  

  • present multiple forms of assessment (though only FCS scores are required).
  • display trends in quantitative and qualitative evaluation data in a way that is clear and easy for the reader to interpret.
  • create graphs to visually display results
  • connect trends in teaching evaluation data to your teaching philosophy and learning goals
  • include summaries in the main body of dossier and raw data in the appendices


Imagine you are the assessor tasked with reviewing your dossier, what information would you be looking for in the teaching evaluation data? What questions would you be looking to answer?

  • Include headings and labels for all your tables or graphs as well as units of measurement (percents, averages, etc.)
  • List the questions that were asked and the range of possible answers (for examples, "Scores can range from 1-4, with 1 being the highest possible score")
  • Indicate where the information comes from - are these FCS scores, scores from another university's course evaluation system, or is it data derived from an assessment you designed?
  • Provide contextual information whenever possible
  • If you include student comments, "use them as quotations within the text of the dossier to support a statement that you make, or to explain why you changed some aspect of a course."
  • Make sure "that the message that you want the reader to take away is clear. Do not assume that a reader will draw the same conclusions as you from looking at your data."


Visualizing Your Evaluations

The clearest and simplest way of displaying your evaluation data is by using a table that displays the average of your scores for each survey question, as in this example from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

Example of teaching evaluation data in a tabular form.

Graphs, however, can provide a more visually stimulating and compelling way of showcasing comparative data.

The following examples were created by faculty members at other universities, and demonstrate some ways of summarizing teaching evaluation data:

Andreas Glombitza, University of British Columbia

Example of teaching evaluation data in a bar graph form
(a larger, more detailed version is available at Andreas' website)

Catherine Rawn, University of British Columbia

Example of teaching evaluation data in a bar graph form

(a larger, more detailed version is available at Catherine's website)

By creating a visual representation of your development as a teacher over the years, you can speak to the ways in which you've tried to improve, and to the impact of the methods you have tried and the effects they have had on your students' learning.

The way in which you display your evaluation data should connect to your teaching goals, and allow you to make connections between your teaching philosophy, your teaching methods, and your effectiveness as an instructor.

For more advice and assistance with developing your dossier, please consider attending our Dossier Design workshop on November 4th.


Next Issue

"The LTO Best Practices" is produced monthly by Michelle Schwartz, Research Associate at The Learning & Teaching Office of Ryerson University.

Do you have any thoughts, suggestions, or best practices that you would like to see appear in this newsletter? Please send all submissions to We look forward to including your contributions in our next issue!

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