Criteria for Tenure Evaluation: Teaching Effectiveness

According to the statutes (section 3.9.6) which references the College mission statement, "The major commitment of the faculty of St. John Fisher University is excellence in teaching, with an emphasis on close interaction with students."

The dossier should include a cogent description of your teaching contributions to your department, school, and the University. As noted in the statutes (section, it is essential to describe the growth of your teaching over time, including course revision and development; responses to any challenges faced in the classroom; and the ability to respond to changing technologies and student demographics which are manifest in a variety of student learning styles.

Questions to Consider When Reflecting and Writing About Your Teaching

The challenge of summarizing your teaching can seem daunting but excellence in teaching is a standard that applies to all faculty members, so these tool kit components are meant to provide you with guidance and are based on the firm foundation of the published Faculty Statutes (section

Here are some questions you may want to address as you construct your dossier (section 3.10.4) and accompanying reflective letter of application. These questions are intended to serve only as a guide to get you thinking. Do not feel that you need to answer all of these questions:

  • How do you express your teaching philosophy your syllabus? the classroom? your colleagues? ...or in your professional mentoring interactions with your students?
  • How do you create your course so that it fits within the overall curriculum plan of the University (as in core courses) or in your discipline (leading to expected end competencies)?
  • How do you reflect your ongoing development as a faculty member in your courses?
  • How can you best capture your teaching contributions to your department/school as students' progress through your courses to accomplish the expected learning of either the core or their major, or their minor?
  • How can you provide someone from outside your discipline with a clear understanding of your teaching and contributions to the learning of the different levels of students that you encounter over the semesters? (Sometimes tables can be helpful here to graphically summarize teaching load over time.)
  • How can you best describe your workload in terms of the expectation of your department/school as it reflects your particular expertise and contribution to the University?
  • Have you developed or modified a course or courses to reflect the changes in your discipline or within the University? (For example, a face-to-face course translated to online.)
  • How do you accommodate different student learning styles in your classroom?
  • How do you optimize your course time to assist students in reaching your expected course outcomes?
  • How do you integrate technology into your classroom to facilitate student learning?
  • How do you develop students' information literacy pertinent to your discipline?
  • How do you use your course evaluations to inform your teaching and improve your courses and your teaching strategies? Consider using quotes from student comments to add to the quantitative data report.
  • Present your teaching in the context of your program-where do your courses fit with the core ...or a minor ...or a major? How does your course prepare students to progress to the next level or achieve program outcomes?
  • How is success in your courses measured? Does successful completion of your course allow the student to achieve an essential prerequisite for a major?

Teaching Effectiveness: Reflections on Teaching as You Prepare Your Tenure and Promotion Dossier

Reflections on teaching: Consistent with the mission of the University, faculty at Fisher prioritize teaching as primary in their role. Faculty-student interactions in and out of the classroom contribute to student learning and can both be used to illustrate the depth and breadth of your teaching efforts.

  • The notes and suggestions below are offered by the members of the Rank and Tenure Committee and are grounded in the sections of the Faculty Statutes that govern the rank and tenure process. As with other evaluation criteria, the process of showing your effectiveness as a teacher asks you to discuss and document your ideas and practices.
  • When preparing your letter and dossier to best showcase your teaching effectiveness or mentoring of students in the clinical arena, keep in mind that the committee on rank and tenure is composed of faculty representing different schools and departments across campus. Fisher is now a college which includes humanities, sciences, and professional schools, each with their own curricula, teaching traditions and outcomes, yet all having expectations consistent with the mission of the University. Within these departments and schools there are diverse ways to demonstrate excellence in teaching.
  • Your task as an applicant is to communicate your effectiveness in teaching to the committee through the clear explanations contained in your cover letter (communicating how you convey your discipline to students in a manner that supports the learning goals/outcomes of the curriculum), supported by the dossier (section 3.10.4; section 3.11.4) which contains pertinent examples of both methods and outcomes of successful teaching.
  • Discuss and document your efforts in ways that most people can understand and appreciate, especially if your department, school, or discipline/profession uses ideas and practices that may differ from other departments, schools, or disciplines/professions.
  • Share any goals, principles, important practices that guide your teaching activities. Such a discussion might also include evidence of how you evaluate and improve upon your efforts. This makes for a more articulate and compelling case than a bullet point list.
  • Be specific about the number of the courses you have taught and how these courses have developed over time. Tables are helpful here. The committee does not need to see examples from every course offering, especially if you have taught the same course overtime. Rather, tell us how the course has evolved. Tell us how your course contributes to student development within your discipline and assists them in advancing to the next level. Don't overlook the achievements of students you have guided during independent studies, capstones, or honors courses.

Teaching Effectiveness Resources


Moving Beyond Student Ratings: A Balanced Scorecard Approach for Evaluating Teaching Performance
K. E. (Skip) Hughes II and Gwen R. Pate

What? Professors Evaluating Themselves? Are You Out of Your Mind?”: In Defense of Faculty Self-Evaluation
Thomas Lord

The value of peers and support from scaffolding: Applying constructivist principles to the teaching of psychology
Naomi Winstone & Lynne Millward

Effective Teaching and Student Engagement in the College Classroom: Using the Instructional Practices Inventory (IPI) as a Tool for Peer Observation and Self-Reflection
J. Hunzicker & T. Lukowiak

Faculty Do Matter: The Role of College Faculty in Student Learning and Engagement
Author(s): Paul D. Umbach and Matthew R. Wawrzynski

Faculty Best Practices Using Blended Learning in E-Learning and Face-to-Face Instruction
Fernando Mortera Gutiérrez

Best Practices in Information Literacy
Fiona Hunt, Jane Birks


Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center. Improving teaching and learning has always been Carnegie's motivation and heritage.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education. AACN's educational, research, federal advocacy, data collection, publications, and special programs work to establish quality standards for nursing education; assist deans and directors to implement those standards; influence the nursing profession to improve health care; and promote public support for professional nursing education, research, and practice.

Other Resources

  • A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in College Teaching: Intended to Challenge the Professional Development of All Educators, Lavery-owned book
  • Using Classroom Inquiry to Improve Higher Ed Teaching & Learning, Lavery-owned ebook
  • What They Didn't Teach You in Grad School, Lavery-owned ebook
  • What the Best College Teachers Do, Lavery-owned e-book
  • Student Engagement Techniques for College Teachers, Lavery-owned ebook
  • Teaching at College and University: Effective Strategies & Key Principles, Lavery-owned ebook
  • A Guide to Faculty Development (see chapter titled "Assessing Teaching Practices"), Lavery-owned book
  • Teaching at Its Best, Lavery-owned book
  • Teaching Students to think Critically, Lavery-owned book
  • Teaching Tips for College Teachers, Lavery-owned book
  • Jeffrey Buller, The Essential College Professor: A Practical Guide to an Academic Career (see chapter 5 for tips on creating an academic portfolio).