Teaching of Psychology: Section Resources

Developing a Postsecondary Teaching Portfolio

Teaching portfolios are documents in which postsecondary instructors reflect upon, describe, and document their teaching philosophy, goals, practices, and achievements. While these documents can vary greatly in length and content across individuals and disciplines, their development requires personal reflection, the selection and collection of evidence, and connecting practices and outcomes with andragogical aims.

What to include:

As creative, personalized documents, Teaching Portfolios embrace various styles and presentation methods. That said, these works typically outline the following aspects of teaching philosophy and practice:

  • An overview of teaching responsibilities/experiences.
  • A teaching philosophy statement (see our page on developing Teaching Philosophy Statements for more information).
  • Evidence of connection between one’s teaching philosophy and classroom practices.
  • Evidence of teaching effectiveness, reflexivity, and/or continuous development, broadly defined.
    • Supporting materials might include student evaluations/peer reviews, exemplary teaching practices, student works, lesson plans, photos, student comments, personal reflections on key incidents, etc.

Resources for Developing a Postsecondary Teaching Portfolio:

University of Saskatchewan’s Guide to Teaching Portfolios:

CAUT Teaching Dossier Guidelines:

Vanderbilt University Guide to Teaching Portfolios:

University of Calgary’s Teaching Philosophies and Teaching Dossiers Guide:

Developing a Teaching Philosophy Statement

A Teaching Philosophy Statement is a document that clearly and concisely describes your beliefs about teaching, why you hold such beliefs, and how you put them into practice in your teaching. Developing a Teaching Philosophy Statement is a reflective process that supports intentional instruction and ongoing teacher development. This involves an explication of the deeper concepts and understandings that account for why you teach as you do, your goals for yourself and your learners, and the principles/theories that guide your teaching practice. It grounds your approach to curriculum and content organization, teaching methods/approaches, learner engagement, student feedback, assessment methods, etc., in a particular understanding of teaching effectiveness.

Teaching Philosophy Statements are:

  • Reflective
  • Narrative
  • Personal
  • Connected to practice

Content may include:

  • Reference to scholarly practices or underlying theory/principles (kept to a minimum, as these documents should be personal first and foremost)
  • Famous quotations
  • Visuals
  • Stories
  • Accounts of overcoming student struggles, classroom challenges, etc.
  • Descriptions of classroom practices that align with/exemplify your philosophy
  • Reference to the development of your teaching practice over time
  • Key moments in your development as an instructor
  • Important influences
  • Notes on student feedback

Getting Started:
The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary suggests structuring your teaching philosophy statement around four key components:

  1. Beliefs: What do you think about teaching?
  2. Strategies: What do you do in the classroom to enact your beliefs?
  3. Impact: What is the effect on learners, self, and colleagues?
  4. Future goals: How will you continue to improve your teaching practice?

Consider these guiding questions from the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness at the University of Saskatchewan:

  1. What excites you about your discipline?
  2. How do you motivate students? Colleagues?
  3. Do you have a role model?
  4. Has your approach to teaching changed? How? Why?
  5. What kinds of activities take place in your classroom? Why have you chosen these activities?
  6. What role(s) do students play in your classroom or lab: Listeners? Co-discoverers? Peer teachers?
  7. Which aspects of your work do you enjoy most? Why?
  8. How do you give students feedback? Why have you chosen these methods?
  9. How do you measure learning outcomes?
  10. Which courses do you enjoy teaching? Why?
  11. What have you learned about yourself as a teacher? How?
  12. How do you encourage students and teaching partners to connect with you?
  13. How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your teaching and other interactions with students?
  14. What have you learned from teaching? About teaching?
  15. How have you disseminated that learning?
  16. How has your research influenced your teaching? Your teaching influenced your research?
  17. Is there a teaching or learning incident that has been pivotal in your career? What? Why?
  18. What are your teaching goals?
  19. What do you consider the most important attributes of an effective teacher?

Consider these “pitfalls” provided by the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation at the University of Toronto:

  • Too general: A statement that does not reflect the particular beliefs, experiences, and circumstances of the author.
  • Lacks reflectiveness: it simply lists teaching techniques or experiences but does not describe how these techniques or experiences have contributed to the author’s beliefs about what constitutes effective teaching.
  • Too clichéd: A statement that expresses a belief in a popular contemporary approach to teaching without establishing (with evidence) how that approach has been integrated into the applicant’s teaching.
  • Too oblique: A statement that references a philosophy or belief but never describes it outright.
  • Too few examples/lacking evidence: A statement that does not include clear information about how the author knows his or her teaching to be effective, provide evidence of instructional development, or link philosophy to practice.

Resources for Developing a Teaching Philosophy Statement:

Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, University of Toronto – Developing A Statement of Teaching Philosophy:

The Teaching Perspectives Inventory (explore your views on teaching and learning):

University of Calgary’s Teaching Philosophies and Teaching Dossiers Guide:

Resources from the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Saskatchewan: