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Bill Vanderburgh

There's no one right way, and lots of ways are good. Remember that the point of a teaching portfolio is mainly to give information to the hiring committee about your performance and promise as a teacher, and secondarily to show what subjects you are able to teach. If you can give that info in fewer pages rather than more, that is better.

I really like it when candidates include on the first page of the teaching portfolio a table that lists courses taught, year, number of students in each section, and teaching evaluation scores (ideally compared against a department average). Hopefully the scores increase over time, demonstrating you are on a good trajectory. A line or two describing the evaluation instrument is helpful context. (E.g., "The university's home-grown evaluation survey asks students ten questions grouped into two categories, course structure/content and teacher contribution to learning. The score reported is the average rating in reply to the question {Q}.")

If you have taken a teaching-training course, mention it on the first page of the teaching portfolio and say something about what you learned from it.

In a teaching statement, it is effective to include a few quotes from student comments to back up what you say about yourself. (E.g., "In my x class, I aim to do y. Students find this motivating and effective: {quote from eval comment praising y}.")

I vote for selected comments summarized on a single page rather than sending the whole batch, especially if the alternative is photocopies of individual comment forms. It is okay to leave out comments that are unfair or just wrong--we all encounter those in our teaching evals and they mean zero. More recent comments are more valuable to the committee.

I suggest including just one syllabus with "full apparatus." Mine have grown to 5-7 pages now, but a lot of the content is the same from class to class. Then for other classes, a course description, grading scheme and weekly schedule with readings is enough--one page for each additional course. (After you have shown once that you know how to construct a syllabus, the other info is showing what classes you can teach and how you would teach them.) The full syllabus should ideally be in the subject area the ad is hiring for. I would provide just two or three other course descriptions and then a list of other courses you are able to teach (say whether those are at the lower or upper division levels).


A long teaching portfolio is fine, as long as it begins with a clear index so I can easily flip to the part of it I want to see. Indeed, I’d suggest that since my experience is different faculty members care more about different things (eg, some care mainly about student comments/feedback, others care more about sample syllabi, especially for a class you haven’t yet taught, while still others want to see evidence of creative and thoughtful exercises and assignments). And while some won’t care if you just cherry-pick student comments, I always wonder what the candidate is hiding when they do, so I’d recommend including the full list of comments for at least 1-2 classes (if you’ve taught a lot more than that, there’s no need to include all of them, just enough to show what the full diversity of comments are within a class). However, I’d recommend putting the full comments to the end in an appendix and including at the beginning the ones you care about or that you think highlight your strengths best. Then, link to the full set so anyone who cares can see what it looks like overall.

On full syllabi vs syllabi outlines: I’d include a mix. Include at least 1-2 full syllabi so we can see how you structure the whole thing, but after that, a reading-list syllabi (or reading list plus assignment list) is fine.

I have mixed feelings about LORs written by students. They could be really great, or they could be (and I think usually are) totally useless. The fact that the candidate sees the letter undermines it as a sign of objective review, and usually they tell me not much more than one student loved the candidate.


Any tips for someone who teaches philosophy in a middle school and, therefore, has no student evaluations? (I have comments from when I taught in grad school, but that was several years ago.)

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