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Writing a Teaching Philosophy for Academic Job Applications Linda B. Nilson, Ph. D., Director Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation 448 Brackett.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing a Teaching Philosophy for Academic Job Applications Linda B. Nilson, Ph. D., Director Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation 448 Brackett."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing a Teaching Philosophy for Academic Job Applications Linda B. Nilson, Ph. D., Director Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation 448 Brackett Hall, Clemson University * *

2 Workshop Objectives You will arrive at a clearer conception of the nature of teaching as a profession and the accompanying need to develop a teaching philosophy. You will be able to develop and write a cohesive, cogent teaching philosophy of your own for your job applications. You should also learn something about yourself along the way.

3 Teaching as a Profession Scholarly science, logic, and experience Like medicine, law, clergy/theology “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (SoTL) = research on teaching; developing and testing new methods Try different methods & document results See yourself in 2 disciplines

4 Discretionary – many ways to be excellent Personal – use your strengths, what works best for you ____________________________________________________________________________ Implications: Good teachers are made, not born; methods available to fit all types, and many strengths can be developed (e.g., charisma). Good peer observers know about the many approaches to teaching excellence.

5 Evolutionary – requires growth, change Generations change Student populations change Best practices change (research) You change (age, appearance, manner, experience) → different classroom persona

6 Creative – Adapt your teaching differently to every class Innovation is honored and needed “Test” new techniques (SoTL, which brings us back to the scholarly nature of teaching)

7 If the teaching profession is scholarly, discretionary, personal, evolutionary, and creative, don’t we need a philosophy to guide and explain our goals, choices, and changes? → Teaching Philosophy

8 What Is a Philosophy? What you do (believe) with an informed and systematic rationale Theory of how reality works System of principles or values that guides living and action HEAD + HEART written in first person

9 Job applications and interviews* Faculty reviews (teaching portfolio)* Teaching award applications* Teaching improvement, professional growth; philosophies change over time *Be mindful of your audience. Uses of a Teaching Philosophy

10 Examples of Statements of Teaching Philosophies Discussion What features did you like in one or more of the examples? What features did you dislike in one or more of them?

11 Approaches to Developing a Teaching Philosophy Elaborate key belief(s) *OR* Answer 3 questions: What do you do in the classroom and why? How do teaching and learning work? What principles or values guide your teaching? Both approaches reveal inconsistencies.

12 1. Identify Your Key Beliefs Teaching Goals Inventory: Which clusters of goals dominate in % rated essential and mean rating? Teaching Style Survey: Which are your predominant styles? Teaching Perspectives Inventory: Which one or two perspectives do you favor? See descriptions.

13 Articulate a key belief of yours. e.g.: “I believe that teaching is providing students with compelling experiences by which they can learn.” What does it assume about T&L? What values or principles does it reflect? What methods logically flow from it?

14 2. Answer Questions That… Resonate most with you Best showcase your thinking on teaching and teaching accomplishments Check those that fit this description for you.

15 What You Do and Why 1) What are your teaching methods, instructional resources, and assessment strategies of choice, and why? Which ones have you developed or substantially modified on your own? 2) What means do you use to attain your aims or goals (your teaching methods and moves, ways of relating to students, assignments, instructional aids, etc.)?

16 How Teaching/Learning Work 1) How do you think learning occurs? How do you think that you as an instructor can promote it? 2) What theories or empirically-based notions about learning make you teach the way you do? 3) What is excellent teaching? 4) Under what conditions do students best learn? Cite any relevant research. 5) How do you define “teaching” and “learning”? 6) How do you view learners and their development?

17 What Principles or Values Guide Your Teaching 1) What general content, process, and lifelong learning goals do you have for students? 2) Why do you teach? If experienced, why do you still teach? What desires, beliefs, and values drive your teaching? 3) What do you want students to gain from you? 4) What are you trying to accomplish in teaching? 5) How does your teaching reflect who you are?

18 Other Possible Questions What is your conception of a great teacher, and what are you doing to become one? What kind of relationship do you strive to develop with your students (if key to your approach)? What is your impact on your students? Provide evidence (topic for later). What role does teaching play vis-à-vis your other professional responsibilities? What has your classroom research taught you about what good teaching is? How have you grown as an instructor, and how do you plan to grow in the future?

19 Questions Adapted from: Berke, A. & S. Kastberg. 1998, March 16. Writing a teaching philosophy: The beginning of a teaching portfolio. Session at the 19th annual conference of the Southern Regional Faculty and Instructional Development Consortium, Kennesaw, GA. Chism, N.V.N Developing a philosophy of teaching statement. Teaching Excellence 9(3), 1-2. Johnston, K.M 'Why do I have to change the way I learn just to fit the way you teach?': Steps to creating a teaching philosophy statement. Workshop conducted in the Michigan State University Teaching Assistant Program, East Lansing, MI. Schönwetter, D.J., L. Sokal, M. Friesen, & L.L. Taylor Teaching philosophies reconsidered: A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements. International Journal for Academic Development 7(1),

20 Integrate into Statement if appropriate or needed: Explanation of any problematic student ratings and written comments Summary of any research on teaching you’ve done (also list in vita)

21 “Evidence” of Impact

22 Student ratings & comments Teaching awards or nominations Improvement in students’ attitudes (e.g., final reflection/personal-growth essay; survey at beginning & end of course) Quality of or improvements in finals, grades, assignments, participation, portfolios, & other student products

23 “Evidence” of Impact Survey of student knowledge at beginning & end of course First-day survey of reasons students are taking course--if it’s you. Students’ opinion of success in meeting learning objectives (extra evaluation item) Peer testimonials of students’ learning Students’ performances in later courses

24 “Evidence” of Impact Students majoring, going to grad school Students winning awards or competitions Chair senior project, graduate committees National & licensing exam results Job placements & employers’ opinions of graduates Successful mentees/graduates in the field

25 “Evidence” of Impact Peer evaluations from classroom visits Impact of service-learning (SL) project & reactions of SL clients Requests to speak, sponsor, advise, etc. from former students or student organizations Unsolicited student feedback after course or years later


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