Developing a teaching profile: Why and how?

Building Your Teaching Career

Developing a teaching profile: Why and how?

The increasing importance of evidencing teaching effectiveness

In recent years, the UK higher education environment has noticeably changed. Research Assessment Exercises and then the Research Excellence Framework have highlighted the importance of academics not only being research- active but regularly publishing high quality outputs in internationally recognised academic journals.

Teaching related metrics have also gained prominence. The annual National Student Survey of final year undergraduate students’ views of their programmes and universities; the greater attention paid to various national and international university rankings and the more recent Teaching Excellence Framework exercises have led to more attention being given to teaching and learning.

Possibly reflecting this, there has also been a noticeable shift in the academic composition of many UK university economics departments. While historically departments recruited colleagues on research and teaching contracts, there are a growing number of departments that are recruiting academics with a greater emphasis on teaching (and administration) in their contracts. Regardless of the type of contract an academic is on, they increasingly need to demonstrate teaching effectiveness to ensure permanent contracts and promotions.

In addition, a greater number of universities are also placing value on (and in some cases insisting upon) academics getting Advance HE teaching recognition in the form of Fellowship, Senior Fellowship or Principal Fellowship qualifications. As a result, academics are being asked to produce teaching profiles, teaching- focused CVs and evidence of their effectiveness as an educator.

This article provides advice on how to approach writing these teaching profiles, including suggestions for the evidence to collate and include.

How to evidence teaching effectiveness

Academics should be consistently collecting evidence to demonstrate the quality and impact of their teaching. This information will be crucial if and when you are required to present a teaching profile, and can also be useful as a source of information (selected and probably in abbreviated form) for a teaching-focused CV.

Most obviously, we should keep a record of the modules we teach each year, noting whether we take on the role of module leader, lecturer, or tutor, as well as the approximate number of students that we teach on each module. Keeping a record of the administrative/management roles undertaken that relate to teaching, learning, and assessment within a department and/or faculty is also important.

We should similarly record the number of undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations supervised, and if we take on the role of PhD supervisor, we should also keep a record of the students’ names, thesis title, year of completion, and, if relevant, their job post-graduation.

Record any professional qualifications related to teaching, such as from Advance HE including the date of any award, i.e., Associate Fellow; Fellow; Senior Fellow and Principal Fellow. Also keep a note of any teaching prizes at departmental, university or national levels. In the UK, National Teaching Fellowships are the most prestigious, as each university can only nominate three individuals per year across the entire institution for these.

We should save module evaluation results, not only scores and response rates but also any particularly insightful comments. There is much debate around the validity of module evaluation results but universities still often consider these at least an imperfect indicator of teaching quality. Saving module evaluation comments that say ‘Professor X is amazing’ may be nice for our egos but more valuable are the comments from students that explain why a particular lecturer or tutor is effective as an educator.

Teaching observation feedback from others is helpful. While it is fine to keep complimentary feedback, saving details of how we’ve responded to suggestions from observers is also valued. Also record information on any teaching observations you have conducted and ask colleagues to let you know if they make any changes to their teaching as a result of the feedback you have provided them. This allows us to demonstrate the impact we have had on others’ teaching. Similarly, keep a record of colleagues that you have mentored and any changes that they’ve made to their teaching and assessments stemming from mentoring advice offered.

Noting the teaching and assessment technologies we adopt and why we use them is important. While using PowerPoint / LaTeX slides can be taken for granted, we should save information on additional technologies we use, for example online polling technologies or technologies used to make asynchronous lecture films and so on.

Always save details of teaching / learning / assessment / pedagogy presentations made to colleagues and at conferences etc. In addition, publications make up an important part of any teaching profile. These may take the form of pedagogy research articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals, such as the International Review of Economics Education and the Journal of Economic Education, as well as more general pedagogy academic journals.

However, there are many other possible, more informal outlets, including INOMICS Teach (of course); the Economics Network; the Economics Observatory; The Conversation; the Economic Review A-level magazine etc. There is also scope to write blogs, book chapters and texts, and to create podcasts. Check whether data on the number of views / citations are available and record this information too as this can give another indication of the impact of your scholarly activities beyond your immediate colleagues and department.

Record all external examiner appointments including the dates of the role, and similarly note any external assessor appointments. All degree programmes / departments across the UK need to be reviewed periodically, with input from external academic reviewers.

Finally, keep a record of any continuing professional development (CPD) courses attended. It can be helpful in promotion applications to be able to demonstrate that a conscientious approach to CPD has been taken. Demonstration of CPD is also essential for any Advance HE qualification applications. This could take the form of an internal training course or a workshop with an organisation like the Economics Network or Advance HE.

Efficient use of teaching profile materials

The above list of teaching related information may seem odious to maintain. However, once we get into a habit of collecting and collating these details it becomes easier, and it also saves time when we come to having to write an application. The above are only suggestions of information to keep. The key is to always collect details not only on roles and duties, but also on the impacts we have.

Fortunately, if we collect such information then it can be used for a variety of purposes, including to create a teaching profile document or a teaching -focused CV, as may be needed to support a promotion or academic job application. In addition, the information can be used to enhance Advance HE qualification applications and maybe one day can be used to support a successful National Teaching Fellowship application.

This article was produced in cooperation with the Economics Network, the largest and longest-established academic organisation devoted to improving the teaching and learning of economics in higher education. Learn more about the Economics Network here.