Blog post – The importance of your teaching philosophy in the academic portfolio

No matter your teaching role at UQ, your academic portfolio is a crucial component for confirmation and promotion. An important piece of an exceptional academic portfolio, is your teaching philosophy.

How do you hit the nail on the head when it comes to formulating your how and why of teaching, and what impact does it have in the confirmation or promotion process?

Dr Rhonda Faragher speaks to her experience on developing a meaningful Teaching Philosophy and committee representatives highlight how it contributes to developing a stand out academic portfolio below.

Advice from an academic: Dr Rhonda Faragher

Read the transcript

Listen in

1.15 – When learners don’t learn, it’s not their fault. Rhonda speaks about her teaching philosophy as an evolving activity, and one of partnership.

2.15 – Find the theories and frameworks that resonate with you. Hear how Rhonda connected to one particular framework.

4.10 – What is the impact for learners? Hear how Rhonda translates her teaching philosophy into the classroom.

6.10 – Rhonda discusses incorporating her teaching philosophy into her academic portfolio.

8.25 – How does grounding yourself in your teaching philosophy support you in dealing with challenges? Rhonda discusses the significance of her teaching philosophy in overcoming SECaT concerns.

12.10 – Rhonda provides her top tips for enhancing your teaching philosophy.

Advice from the committee

The following advice has been provided by:

Your philosophy: Reflecting on your beliefs and teaching approaches

A teaching philosophy begins with a statement of your beliefs around learning and teaching. It includes some strategies or techniques you may use in your classroom and demonstrates how you adapt your teaching to different cohorts of students. Giving thought to these issues then allows a reflection on what you do – the most important part of a teaching philosophy. Your teaching philosophy allows you to question what you do in different contexts and consider how you may develop as a teacher going forward.

In the UQ context

The academic portfolio is an important component of confirmation and promotion discussions at UQ. Committee members are assessing who you are, what you are known for, your contributions and your impact. A teaching philosophy is an integral part in learning about a candidate, their willingness to reflect and change in response to the feedback from students and peers, and their future ideas and goals for teaching and learning effectiveness. A robust academic portfolio can show your passion for teaching and what is important to you as an academic.

It is important to acknowledge that no part of the portfolio stands alone or takes individual weightings in the (confirmation/promotion) process. All aspects of the portfolio are evaluated in the context of the candidate’s overall career. It cannot go unremarked that an inconsistent portfolio is often connected to SECaT data and a hesitation to address or reflect openly on perceived poor results, or teaching practice. Candidates should be made aware that within the review process there is a recognition of the demands of teaching big classes, or classes where there is a high proportion of international students, for example. However, a portfolio must include a narrative with a strategic response, and some demonstration of improvement to be well received by the committee.

What does a good teaching philosophy look like?

A good teaching philosophy will be subjective and reflective, as well as informed, and provide examples to demonstrate how you implement your statements. It will allow the committee members to learn a little about you as a person and a teacher, and may focus on contributions to student learning.

A weak philosophy has little reflection on teaching practice, does not address problems that are evident on SECaTs, makes fundamental mistakes like blaming students for problems or could have a lack of commitment to student learning.

Next steps: How to develop or redevelop a teaching philosophy

The approach towards your academic portfolio and the inherent teaching philosophy that should underpin much of the narrative included in it needs to demonstrate some awareness and reflection on the state of play above and beyond your specific teaching experience.

The distinction between 'pedagogy' and 'teaching practice’ is key.

  1. Develop your narrative with a pedagogy worldview. Reflect (and conduct research if necessary) on the challenges of teaching in your field or discipline as part of the wider Higher Education context (this might be class sizes or usefulness of online resources, for example).
  2. Use this worldview context for a discussion of specific issues or challenges in your classroom practice at UQ. What are the problems? How are these manifesting in the teaching feedback? It is important to address this as the committee can see this in the data and if a problem is not addressed it becomes a serious point for performance assessment. Once identified, discuss and demonstrate strategies and innovations attempted, and the outcomes.
  3. Overall, think about what you do and why you do it. Consider the feedback you get from students, both formal and informal. Question your practices, reflect on any negative experiences and think about how you can do them better. Reflect on the positive experiences and question why they went so well.

You might like to redevelop your teaching philosophy by: 

  1. Asking a colleague to read your statement or request mentorship from another teacher
  2. Talk to others about their beliefs and practices
  3. Utilising your annual appraisal - discuss your needs openly here and request support if so desired
  4. Attending staff development activities is important. ITaLI can support you in redeveloping strategies, source links to secondary readings and provides opportunities to network with others.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend the ITaLI workshop on developing a teaching philosophy.


Last updated:
7 May 2019