Competency 4


Understanding the University Context

Certification in College Teaching Workshop
May 9th & 10th 2019


While much of the Teaching Institute was focused on how we can make a better environment for our students, one session was really about what we as instructors want. Specifically, this is important when considering the type of job we desire once we attain our PhD. We also participated in an activity to help us start writing our teaching philosophies. Thus, the session on Understanding the University Context focused on how we can prepare for the job application process.

Man with Book
Piles of Books


Image by Stanislav Kondratiev

Artifact Rationale

During the Teaching Institute we discussed what type of university we wanted to work at once we received our PhDs. This is a huge decision and has a lot of influence on the type of materials we need to provide and the way we structure those materials. There is a difference in applying for an R1 research institution and a small Liberal Arts college and we should first, be aware of what we want as a career, and second, craft our application to fit that university.

One of the first things we did during this session was to examine several different universities’ mission statements. After reading these, we were asked to think about how we would write our application documents to fit the needs of these mission statements. Or at the very least, to help us determine what type of university we actually want to work for. This is a two-way street after all. We should want to work for a university that fits our personality as an instructor.

Next, we turned our focus specifically to our teaching philosophy. This important document illustrates to potential employers our teaching style and our ambitions as an instructor. Specifically, we discussed what a teaching philosophy is, why we might need one, the characteristics of a good teaching philosophy, and what a reader should learn about the author of a teaching philosophy. The Tool for Preparing a Teaching Philosophy Statement: Teaching Inventory & Self-Assessment is a particularly useful artifact in that it helps us to identify areas of our teaching we are particularly good at.

Image by Aaron Burden

Interpretation & Reflection

In summary, this session of the Teaching Institute was really helpful for me as an instructor who is pursuing a career in academia. It helped me to identify what type of university I want to work at and gave me excellent resources to craft my teaching philosophy. I have found that as I advance in my program, my preferences have changed and my teaching ability has improved so these documents are helpful to keep returning back to so I can improve my future job applications. The Understanding the University Context portion of the Teaching Institute represents the core competency by providing resources for teaching philosophies and job prospects for future PhD graduates in order to prepare for their future teaching careers.