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Guidelines for the use of teaching portfolios at Aarhus BSS

Aarhus 13 September 2016

Background
The management at Aarhus University have decided that all applications for academic positions advertised after 1 April 2015 must be accompanied by a teaching portfolio.  The purpose is to place the necessary emphasis on the applicants’ teaching competences when assessing candidates for academic positions.

To read AU’s general rules, go to http://www.au.dk/en/about/uni/policy/portfolio/

Purpose
The university’s primary purposes are to conduct research and offer research-based degree programmes. For appointments of academic staff, the qualification assessment places emphasis on the applicant’s documented qualifications as a researcher and lecturer, and the overall purpose of a teaching portfolio is to give the assessment committee a foundation for assessing the applicant’s teaching qualifications.    

Using the teaching portfolio in the appointment process serves a double purpose: it gives applicants a chance to consider and document their teaching experience and qualifications, and it provides the assessment committee with a more solid basis for assessing the applicant’s level of experience and qualification. 

Contents
A teaching portfolio contains a description of the applicant’s teaching experience, considerations and evaluations of his/her teaching activities.  The teaching portfolio serves as documentation for the following: the teaching assignments that the applicant has performed, how the teaching has been conducted, why has the applicant chosen to approach the teaching in that way and what are the results. 

A teaching portfolio at Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University must include the following three elements:

  1. Description and documentation
  2. Reasons for own choices in relation to teaching
  3. Results

1. Description and documentation
The following elements must be included and must 1) be listed according to factual information in the form found below and 2) partly described in the applicant’s own words (it should also be mentioned, if the applicant does not possess these qualifications):

  • Conducted teaching (the scope, number, nature and level of the courses)
  • Experience with course management/responsibility (please state role, scope, type and level)
  • Examinations carried out (please state role, scope, type and level).
  • Experience with supervision (Master’s thesis, PhD and similar tasks - please state role, scope, type and level)
  • Courses completed in university pedagogics or other pedagogical courses
  • Experience working in teams of teachers, collegial supervision etc.
  • Experience with degree programme management and development, including postgraduate teaching and further and continuing education
  • Contribution to the development of subject areas, subjects or disciplines
  • Contribution to textbooks or teaching material
  • Other experience in the area of teaching and university pedagogics

 2. Reasons for choices in relation to teaching 
Here the applicant should describe in his or her own words how the teaching was conducted and why the applicant has chosen to approach the teaching in the given way. The applicant must provide examples of teaching plans with comments, the teaching material used and guidelines that describe and document the applicant’s own perception of e.g.:

  • teaching objectives and strategies
  • the correlation with the form of examination, didactic conditions and the connection with the general course goals pursuant to the academic regulations
  • the role of lecturer and the role of student
  • the applicant’s own pedagogical development

The examples presented may serve to shed light on correlations between the examination form, didactic conditions and the connection to general course objectives pursuant to the academic regulations. Other areas which can be used as a basis for assessment include experimental and development projects, teaching-related research projects in collaboration with other institutions, development of new working methods and/or forms of examination, interdisciplinary collaboration, integrating IT, internationalisation, internships and continuing education courses.

3. Results
Here the applicant should describe the results of the chosen forms of teaching. The results must be documented by statements, evaluations, course certificates, statistics, or simular.

  • Evaluations from students (from at least two different classes)
  • References from, for example, the director of studies, course manager, the head of department or others in connection with pedagogical development.
  • Other indicators of teaching quality, e.g. level of activity, completion rates, absence, average marks etc.

The evaluation of the applicant’s teaching should be kept within a relevant and systematic framework which includes ordinary teaching evaluations, statements in connection with course participation or teamwork, statements from pedagogical supervisors. This means that the attached evaluations and evaluation forms must be contextualised and commented on, so that they are linked to the different teaching activities and the that effect of the pedagogical choices are commented on if possible.

Assessment committees should, however, take note that there are limitations to the value of the information and documentation procured from students, colleagues, supervisors or directors of studies.

Guidelines for the applicant about the format of the teaching portfolio
A teaching portfolio is not meant to be a collection of all the documents and material produced in connection with the applicant’s teaching activities. Rather, a good teaching portfolio consists of carefully selected and well-organised material that yields a clear, well-documented and thorough picture of the applicant’s teaching experience, perspectives on teaching and his or her teaching results.  The teaching portfolio is used by the members of the assessment committee and throughout the appointment process, and it should include the applicant’s considerations regarding his or her approaches to teaching and any further contributions he or she has made to the teaching in various fields.  A teaching portfolio typically consists of 4-8 pages excluding appendices.

Combined, the three main points - description and documentation, reasons for own choices in relation to teaching as well as results constitute a solid basis for assessing the applicant’s teaching qualifications. The point description and documentation should clarify the extent and diversity of the applicant’s teaching experience and experience in developing teaching activities and constructing syllabi as well as the applicant’s role in this.  The point Reasons for own choices in relation to teaching and supervision describes the  applicant’s method of teaching and supervision in the chosen topics and the reasons for these didactical choices.   The point Results should include the results of evaluations of the applicant’s various teaching activities.  The applicant must state the reason for selecting the attached evaluations.

Please note that the portfolio must be considered in due regard to the requirements that apply within the job category in question, since the different job categories – assistant professors, associate professors and professors – require different levels of experience.  Applicants for a professorship are expected to document a higher degree of development in their teaching qualifications than applicants for an associate professorship.

Guidelines for assessment committee
There is not one criterion, which alone can serve as documentation for the applicant’s teaching qualifications. The final assessment of an applicant’s teaching qualifications should therefore take several criteria into account, not unlike in the assessment of an applicant’s qualifications as a researcher.

The following criteria should be included in the assessment committee’s overall assessment:

  • The scope and diversity of the applicant’s teaching experience
  • Development of teaching qualifications
    Among other things, an assessment should take into account whether the applicant has:
    • acquired experience teaching on several levels (BA, MA, PhD and continuing education programmes, guest lectures at other universities)
    • acquired experience with various forms of instruction (including various forms of lectures, classroom teaching, student guidance and collegial supervision etc.)
    • expanded his or her knowledge of pedagogical and didactic subjects
    • been involved in work to develop new forms of instruction, courses, disciplines and study programmes.
  • The relevance and consistency of the arguments
    The assessment should take into account whether there is a high level of cohesion between the applicant’s goals, strategies, forms of instruction and examination, his or her own role as a lecturer and expectations to the students. 
  • Results
    Based on the students’ evaluations, the assessment committee should consider the extent to which the organisation of the courses and the teaching has contributed to the students’ learning. Emphasis should also be on how the applicant has interpreted the students’ evaluations and in what ways the evaluations have been applied by the applicant in the work to develop his or her teaching approaches and activities afterwards. References from e.g. directors of studies, programme directors or heads of department, e.g. in connection with pedagogical development, may also be included in the assessment of the applicant’s qualifications. Assessment committees should take note that there are limitations to the value of the information and documentation procured from students, colleagues, supervisors or directors of studies. 
  • Whether the material is in accordance with the department’s needs, as described in the job advertisement.
  • Job category
    The teaching portfolios are used and assessed with due regard for the requirements that apply within the various job categories.

    Applicants for assistant professorships are not required to have previous teaching experience. However, many applicants have some experience from the PhD programme and/or from employment as student teachers, which they may account for in the teaching portfolio.

    Pursuant to the job structure and Aarhus University’s supplementary regulations, applicants for associate professorships are subject to minimum requirements regarding their level of teaching experience and teaching education. Accordingly, based on the documentation in the teaching portfolio, the assessment committee must ensure that the applicant meets the following minimum requirements:
    • The applicant has completed the compulsory course on university pedagogics for assistant professors at Aarhus BSS (or similar)
    • The applicant has been responsible for two full semester course programmes (10 ECTS regular courses) - preferably at two different levels and with the application of various forms of instructions - under qualified supervision (or similar)
    • The portfolio must include a statement by the director of studies or other relevant expert regarding the applicant’s pedagogical qualifications and experiences.
    If the applicant does not have sufficient teaching experience at the time of assessment, he or she may be employed on a probationary period within which the minimum requirements must be fulfilled.

    Applicants for professorships are not subject to any formal requirements regarding their teaching abilities, but applicants for professorships are expected to be able to document a higher degree of development in terms of their teaching qualifications than applicants for academic positions on a lower level.
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