Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Illinois State University
Jump over the College navigation bar.

Outstanding University Teacher Award
Teaching Initiative Award (Pre-Tenure Faculty)

(revised March 2016)

Overview

This award is for assistant professors who have shown considerable promise in teaching early in their academic careers. This category is restricted to pre-tenure faculty with at least two years of teaching on a full-time, tenure track at Illinois State, but not more than five years of full-time, tenure track university-level teaching experience at Illinois State and elsewhere, combined, at the time of the nomination. Part-time, non-tenure track and/or graduate assistant teaching experience for any length of time are not counted in the teaching record restrictions. The candidate's teaching performance at Illinois State University in a tenure-track position will be given the greatest weight. Up to five recipients will be selected, and the award includes a stipend.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a TIA nomination, an Illinois State University faculty member must:

  1. Be a full-time, tenure-track faculty member with at least two years of teaching on a full-time, tenure track at Illinois State, but not more than five years of full-time, tenure track University-level teaching experience at Illinois State and elsewhere at the time of the nomination submission date ;
  2. Receive support for their nomination for the TIA from both department chair and college dean.

Note: Prior TIA recipients and current members of the University Teaching Committee are ineligible.

Nomination Procedures

  • At the Department/School Level
  • At the College Level
  • University Teaching Committee Process

Nominators

Any current or former ISU department chairperson, school director, division head, or dean; any current or former ISU full- or part-time faculty member; or any current or former full- or part-time ISU student may nominate someone meeting the eligibility requirements for this award. Nomination letters or emails should be sent directly to the candidate’s department chair/school director. Nomination letters/emails should:

  • Provide the nominee’s name and academic department/school
  • Explain the nominator’s basis of knowledge of nominee’s teaching
  • Explain why the nominee should be considered for this award

Selection

The chair/director should use a selection process developed and implemented in consultation with the DFSC/SFSC to identify no more than two nominees each year and forward those names to the Chair, University Teaching Committee, via email no later than 4:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of April. Nominees should then prepare their teaching portfolios and submit them to their chairs by the first Tuesday of September (or a date arranged with the chair/director). Chairs/directors then forward completed portfolios to their college dean’s office no later than the third Tuesday of September.

Each dean, dean’s appointee, and/or selection committee, in conjunction with the College Council, shall do the following:

  • Each college may nominate up to three candidates for each award category. (An exception is the College of Arts and Sciences, which may forward up to three in each category for each division: social sciences, sciences, humanities.)
  • Each nomination should include the candidate’s application materials, including the nomination form signed by the candidate’s chair/director and dean.
  • Nominations should be sent to the special email address included in the letter sent to deans from CTLT Director Claire Lamonica. If you need assistance, please contact Dr. Lamonica at cclamon@IllinoisState.edu.
  • All materials must be received electronically no later than 4:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of October. No late nominations or materials will be accepted.
  • The college should notify each nominee’s department chair/school director of the college-level outcome.
  • Chairs/School directors should notify their department’s nominees of college outcomes.

The UTC shall evaluate nominees’ materials to select recipients and notify each finalist of the outcome. In the case of portfolios of equal merit, preference shall go to those who have not previously won the award.

Teaching Portfolio Contents

Nominees should scrupulously adhere to all page length restrictions. The 2-page limit assumes 12-point font with 1” margins, and includes images and tables.

See this list for general tips on creating a compelling teaching portfolio.

  • Table of Contents
  • Teaching Philosophy Statement
  • Summary of Teaching Assignments and Teaching Development
  • Summary and Contextualization of Teaching Evaluation Record
  • Reflection on Teaching Challenge
  • Curriculum Development
  • Instructional Innovations
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Teaching Development Plan
  • Chair’s Letter
  • Vita
  • Selected Artifacts
Length: 1 page

Use the following list as your table of contents (even if you do not have materials for each and every section) and to organize your portfolio so that reviewers can find your materials. For printed portfolios, using labeled dividers for each section will help evaluators find pertinent materials. For electronic portfolios, using those topics as primary links will similarly help evaluators find pertinent materials.

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Teaching Philosophy Statement
  3. Summary of Teaching Assignments and Teaching Development
  4. Summary and Contextualization of Teaching Evaluation Record
  5. Reflection on Teaching Challenge
  6. Curriculum Development
  7. Instructional Innovations
  8. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  9. Teaching Development Plan
  10. Chair’s Letter
  11. Vita
  12. Selected Artifacts
Length: 3 pages maximum, single spaced

This is where you identify your foundational beliefs about teaching and learning and explain how you implement those beliefs into your instructional activities. The best Teaching Philosophy Statements articulate teaching philosophies that reflect significant time and effort to develop and refine and articulate the instructor’s fundamental approaches to teaching. Also, the best teaching philosophies are reflected throughout the rest of the elements that make up the portfolio and present the instructor’s approaches to teaching and ongoing development as a professional.

Do:

  • Identify your foundational beliefs about teaching and learning.
  • Explain how you implement your beliefs about teaching and learning through your instructional activities.
  • Include attention to the ways in which your teaching is culturally responsive

The Best Portfolios:

  • Carefully pair your beliefs about teaching with examples that illustrate how these beliefs are manifested in your classroom.
  • Incorporate this philosophy into other materials within the portfolio—like curriculum development, teaching challenge, artifacts, etc.
  • Are conscious of the ways in which a teaching philosophy is always in flux and illustrate that evolution through carefully chosen examples.
  • Consider the way in which narrative might help; telling a story can be effective.
  • Reflect thought about whether your philosophy stems from a particular experience, scholarly stance, or reading. Strategic quotations or references to scholars can be effective.
  • Carefully consider the use of headings that may help you effectively organize your document.
  • Distill your ideas into a few central components that you can thoroughly explore rather than presenting a large number of concepts and treating them briefly.
  • Share your ideal version of your classroom and philosophy, suggesting ways in which you try to approximate this ideal in the reality of your classroom and articulate your hopes for the future.
  • Ground your writing with your philosophy and beliefs and allow your examples to cohesively express not only the nuances of this philosophy but how these beliefs are enacted by your students through assignments, class projects, and course design.

Don’t:

  • Forget to include examples that illustrate your philosophy and beliefs in action.
  • Spend time on elements that don’t tie together into a cohesive picture of you as a teacher.
  • Try to do too much.
Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

This narrative should cover up to the last five years and describe the following (when part of your record) (listing some information–e.g., courses and # students–where it makes sense is acceptable):

  1. Courses taught–including dates, titles, and number of students for each–as well as a brief explanation of the context of the course in department curriculum (e.g., requirement or elective).
  2. Additional instructional activities with students—including descriptions of activities such as guest speaker appearances for colleagues’ classes, non-class instruction such as independent studies and honors projects, thesis/dissertation advising (chair and committee membership), and co-curricular teaching-related service.
  3. Instruction-related activities with university colleagues—including descriptions of collegial instruction such as mentoring, participation in teaching-learning communities, and participation in departmental or campus teaching development activities and events.
  4. Instruction-related activities with non-university colleagues.

These narratives should describe teaching evaluations over time to look for trends or changes, specifically focusing on the last three years. (Graduate Students may have fewer evaluations.)

The best summaries and contextualizations of teaching evaluations present teaching evaluations from multiple perspectives (students, peers, and/or self) and in multiple instances over time, a relevant context for those evaluations, and include insights not only from the positive responses but also candidly note problems with teaching, identify the causes for these problems, and explain responses to them.

  1. Student evaluations
    Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

    Summarize student evaluations for your courses. These evaluations may include end-of-semester course or teaching evaluations, results of midterm chats, or other midterm evaluations. Include information on the instrument(s) used. For evaluations that are not numerical, explain evaluation method used and summarize those evaluations. Contextualize the evaluations to help provide a more accurate interpretation.

  2. Peer evaluations
    Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

    Summarize any additional peer evaluations (formal or informal, formative or summative) such as peer observations, peer reviews of teaching materials, etc. Include frequency, format or procedure, instruments, information on the specific courses evaluated, the content of peer reviews, and the credentials of peer evaluators of your teaching. These could include observations by those who have visited your classes, reviews of course syllabi and materials, reviews of technology used in instruction such as web sites, etc.

  3. Self-evaluations
    Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

    Describe any self-evaluations you have completed. This can include narratives you have done as a part of annual productivity reports, analyses you have done while participating in teaching workshops at conferences or elsewhere, reflections based on reviewing video footage of yourself teaching either through CTLT or independently, or other forms of self-evaluation. Summarize the key findings of your self-evaluations, including providing contextual information such as your motivation, your areas of focus and goals for each evaluation, and how you have used what you learned to improve your teaching.

  4. Reflection on evaluations
    Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

    Explain what you have learned from the accumulation of evaluations over time and from different perspectives, how those insights have shaped your teaching and you as a teacher, and how you will incorporate the insights into your future teaching.

Do:

  • Include summaries of the various types of evaluation that you utilize paired with contextual explanations and your reflections on these evaluations.

The Best Portfolios:

  • Choose carefully what information you will include to represent evaluations. This is not meant to be a place for a comprehensive compilation of student ratings of teaching.
  • Synthesize the information you’re providing, including using tables if it is an efficient method for conveying data summaries.
  • Carefully balance qualitative and quantitative data (if applicable) to describe your evaluations.
  • Recognize that reflection is a key part of this process. Be conscious of providing a cohesive picture of your reflections as you compose these documents.
  • Focus on the ways in which other elements of your portfolio—teaching challenge, teaching philosophy, teaching development plan, etc.—are connected to your teaching evaluations and your reflections on these evaluations (e.g. I responded to this critique by doing X, which is detailed in section Y).
  • Remember that context matters. Information such as how many times you’ve taught the course, teaching load, number of students in the course, and all sorts of other factors contribute to the context of your evaluations.
  • Focus on evaluations that are based on ISU teaching, but may include non-ISU evaluation data if there is a significant reason for inclusion.

Don’t:

  • Make this section solely about numbers.
  • Hesitate to include “negative” evaluations; these, along with positive evaluations, offer you something to reflect on.
Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

Every teacher, including the best, has failures, crises, difficult situations, etc. The best teachers, however, are distinguished by how they handle and learn from these challenges. This is an opportunity for you to describe a challenge that you have faced as a teacher, how you handled it, what you learned from it, and how the experience shaped your teaching. It could be a single incident or a long-term issue, a temporary problem, or an ongoing difficulty. Choose one that best illustrates who you are as a teacher and how you have become the teacher that you are today.

The best Reflections on Teaching Challenges identify a significant event or issue, describe vividly the practical and conceptual challenges encountered and responses to those challenges, and thoughtfully review the insights gained from the experiences described.

Do:

  • Narrate a legitimate challenge.
  • Address your response(s) to that challenge over time.
  • Convey what you have learned as a teacher from this experience.

The Best Portfolios:

  • Consider big picture issues within your teaching challenge. Ideas like implementing your teaching philosophy and building relationships with students and how those ideas connect to other nuts-and-bolts elements of teaching like technology use, classroom management, curriculum decisions, personal approaches to the classroom, assignments, etc., can work well here.
  • Carefully balance the length of description of the teaching challenge to the explanation of what you’ve learned from it in a way that’s appropriate for your teaching challenge.
  • Remember that a good narration is a real story with 3 basic parts: 1) recognition of the issue; 2) cognitive engagement with the issue; 3) enacting change.
  • Use the challenge as a springboard to talk about your pedagogical development, and explain what you learned from your challenge and how your response to it has affected your teaching.
  • Keep in mind that good teaching challenges reflect learning you’ve done about your pedagogy.
  • Use lots of carefully selected and framed examples that are substantial enough for an in-depth discussion.
  • Refer in this essay to other documents within your Teaching Portfolio (Artifacts, Teaching Philosophy, etc.) when relevant.

Don’t:

  • Assume you have to have “solved” or “fixed” your teaching challenge to write effectively about it for the purposes of this element.
  • Create a piece-meal teaching challenge that attempts to tie multiple small issues together.
  • Cram in too many examples so that your discussion lacks depth and complexity.
Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

This narrative should describe your activities contributing to revised or new curriculum covering up to the last five years. It should describe (a) revisions to courses (rationale, specifics, evaluation of/reflections on revisions), (b) new course development (rationale, specifics of developed course(s), evaluation of/reflection on new course(s)), and (c) contributions to department/school/university curriculum development (e.g., formal participation in committees, informal contributions with peers) and reflection on the value of these contributions.

Do:

  • Describe your contributions to curriculum over time.
  • Address revisions to courses, new course developments, and contributions to department/school/university curriculum.
  • Include reflection on your curricular contributions.

The Best Portfolios:

  • Include both individual revisions to classes taught over time and/or more institutional-level changes.
  • Incorporate the rationale for the changes you’ve made or participated in over time.
  • Narrate the types of help you’ve had from others (colleagues, discipline-specific associations, students, etc.) and/or the types of help you’ve given to others during the process of curriculum development.
  • Focus on both formal and informal curriculum development.
  • Balance a discussion of the curricular changes enacted with a careful reflection on and/or rationale for those changes.
  • Represent curriculum development through the inclusion of Artifacts that are referenced in this section.

Don’t:

  • Assume you have nothing to report. As a thoughtful teacher nominated for a teaching award, you’ve certainly engaged in curriculum development even if it is not a new course. You can include informal course revisions, refining assignments, designing new methods of assessment, etc., as examples of curriculum development.
Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

This narrative should describe your activities implementing instructional innovations, including approaches and strategies as well as technologies, covering at least the last five years. It should describe specific strategies and/or technologies, the course(s) in which they were implemented, and your rationale/motivation/goals for the change. Include an evaluation and/or reflection of your activities’ contributions to student learning.

Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

This narrative should describe your scholarship that focuses on teaching and learning covering the last five years. Detail completed projects, current projects, professional presentations at conferences and through publications, and projects in process. Explain how this work has influenced you as a teacher.

Length: 2 pages maximum, single spaced

This is an opportunity to describe where you’ve been as a teacher (and why you were there), where you are now (and what you did to get here), and where you are going as a teacher (and specifically what you intend to do to get there). Organization is up to you, but the plan should include specifics about teaching-related decisions and activities in the past and your plans for your future that describe your evolution as a teacher. As such, it should provide a specific agenda for your ongoing development as a professional pursuing teaching excellence.

The best Teaching Development Plans detail comprehensive plans that clearly describe trajectories over time, including specific short- and long-term goals and priorities as well as specific plans to pursue those goals and priorities.

Do:

  • Describe briefly where you’ve been and where you are now, and allocate the bulk of the essay to explaining where you’re going as a teacher.
  • Include specifics about your plans for the future and a specific agenda for your ongoing teaching development.

The Best Portfolios:

  • Pay close attention to organization and decide whether you’re going to work with narrative (tell your story from beginning to end) or focus on key aspects of your teaching that help you discuss your plans.
  • Carefully weigh your focus on the future—this future version of yourself as you develop your teaching is a key highlight of this document.
  • Include elements of your teaching both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Look for opportunities to integrate ideas from your teaching philosophy and its development and other aspects of your teaching portfolio, such as curriculum development, teaching evaluations, etc.
  • Focus on reflection as you discuss your past and present as a teacher and use this reflection as a spring-board for discussing your future direction.
  • Are specific about both ideas and actions.

Don’t:

  • Be too literal in limiting yourself to actions only. This should be about what you aspire to do in your teaching and can, therefore, involve ideas and plans you will implement.
  • Be too grandiose. Your goals should stretch you as a teacher but still be achievable.
  • Be too ethereal or theoretical. While you’re working with what you’re hoping to do in the future, this should also be a roadmap for your professional development that is grounded in concrete ideas and practices.

A letter of support from the department chair or school director should provide documentation for details of the nominee’s record. As such, it will be a substantial letter that authoritatively addresses important elements of the nominee’s record based on the chair’s/director’s participation in reviewing annual productivity reports and other ASPT activities. The letter should:

  1. Summarize the nominee’s teaching record, including assignments and instructional development activities, adding context where appropriate.
  2. Summarize the nominee’s teaching evaluation record, adding context where appropriate.
  3. Summarize the nominee’s curriculum development and instructional innovation activities, adding context where appropriate.
  4. Provide a summary statement about why the nominee deserves recognition for his or her teaching.

It may not be necessary to provide the committee with your entire CV.  You may choose to focus this version of the document on the information most pertinent to your work as a teacher. Limit it to no more than 10 pages.

Do include standard CV items, as appropriate, pertinent, and helpful, especially 

  • References to teaching experience and assignments
  • Instruction-related recognition (including your nomination for this award)
  • Citations for SoTL work

Nominees may include up to (but no more than) five artifacts or forms of documentation. The small number means that nominees must be selective about what they include, based on their judgment about which items best illustrate, illuminate, support, and reinforce their teaching record as described in the rest of the portfolio. Also effective are artifacts that demonstrate the effectiveness of your practices and activities by including information and evidence on student outcomes. The most effective artifacts will be those that are cited explicitly and contextualized in the essay(s) relevant to the artifact.

Artifacts can include forms of documentation typically included in a standard teaching portfolio, but can also include other items that nominees believe are important to understanding themselves as teachers. For example, if a nominee has articulated his or her success in course development activities in an essay, materials related to that effort are a possible artifact. If a nominee has articulated his or her emphasis on instructional innovations in an essay, materials related to that effort might be considered as one of the artifacts. Note: Nominees are required to obtain students’ permission to include student work in the portfolio and, when appropriate, to remove all identifying information from any student work.

For each artifact, you can provide a cover page with an explanation (approximately one-half page single spaced) explaining what the artifact is, what theme/practice/idea that it is intended to illustrate or convey, and which portfolio elements are pertinent.

2019-02-06T09:56:39.731-06:00 2019