How to promote teaching skills and educational development

Effective higher education is crucial for development in a country, but all university/college teachers are not automatically skilled in teaching or active in educational development.

Requirements and incentives - both are needed

Educational efforts and skills need to be stimulated, both through requirements and through incentives. This can be achieved if governments and higher education institutions, e.g.:

  • Give opportunities and set requirements for educational training of university/college teachers. Training in teaching methodologies and research supervision for 8-10 weeks can have a very favourable effect; this training might include topics such as the learning process, teaching methods, tutoring, computer assisted learning, distance education, examination methods, course evaluation, research supervision etc. The training can be a requirement for employment and promotion. It might be beneficial for the institution to have its own educational unit to provide this training.
  • Value and give credits to teachers showing educational skills, i.e. let this give merits for promotion and salary increases, just like research efforts do.
  • Stimulate activities where teachers from the same or different departments come together periodically to discuss specific educational topics.
  • Establish a distinguished award for educational skills.
  • Provide the physical facilities needed for efficient teaching.
  • Fund research related to the teaching and learning process in specific subject areas (e.g. animal breeding); this research should be performed and published by the university/college teachers. Money from the fund could also be used to test new teaching methods and related activities.

Document your educational efforts and skills

Being a university/college teacher, you need to document your educational efforts and skills. This can be done in a teaching dossier, often called Teaching Portfolio. Keeping records continuously of your educational achievements is not only useful for promotion and salary discussions, or when applying for a new position, it also helps you to reflect upon and to improve your teaching. The portfolio should contain information both on your teaching activities and their effectiveness. For detailed information on what to include in a teaching portfolio, explore the website "DeLiberations"; for web-address, see [Section 14.1] of this module

In brief, a teaching portfolio might include:

  • your philosophy, objectives and strategies for effective teaching/learning and educational development
  • your own education (if any) in this area
  • your past and present teaching activities (extent, academic level, teaching and examination methods used etc.)
  • your contribution in developing curricula, courses and teaching or examination or evaluation methods, and in fulfilling the education objectives
  • your efforts in linking education to research and to professional life, as well as your contribution to internationalization of education
  • research supervision
  • teaching materials you have produced (and reviews/evaluation of those if available)
  • experiences in education planning and administration, and participation in teaching committees etc.
  • study counselling and your contribution to the students' learning climate
  • participation in research/projects on the teaching and learning process
  • results from student course/teacher evaluations
  • statements from others about your contribution to education and your skills as a teacher and supervisor (e.g. from colleagues, department chair, educational experts, alumni)
  • educational awards, honours, grants, stipends etc. that you have received
  • national and international invitations for you to present a report on teaching and learning.

A teaching portfolio should not be too long; a length of maximum 8-10 pages is sometimes recommended (remember to include a content list). Some appendix materials might be attached, but don't overload the portfolio.