Documenting Your Teaching and Research

Documenting your teaching and research efforts can be useful as a way to reflect on, improve and direct your teaching and research activities. Keeping good records of both teaching and research also serves to help facilitate faculty service reports and tenure and promotion processes. The NIU community recognizes and supports faculty who excel in the practice of teaching, research and engagement through several prestigious awards. These awards are presented below.

Evidence of teaching can be derived from your own records as well as records from others while evidence of research is made apparent by publications and other activities. Most of your teaching and research documents can be stored electronically for easy access and flash drives provide storage that is both portable and secure.

The lists below highlight a range of teaching and research evidence but should not be construed as the required documentation for all department or school personnel committees. Please discuss with your department or school chair or director about those requirements necessary for applying for tenure and/or promotion.

Evidence of Teaching from Oneself

  • Courses taught
  • Course syllabi
  • Exams, quizzes and projects
  • Reading lists
  • Handouts and worksheets
  • Student accomplishments
  • Teaching goals and innovations
  • Course and laboratory development
  • Theses and dissertations directed
  • Independent studies directed
  • Curricular and programmatic contributions
  • Instructional workshops
  • Teaching philosophy
  • Self evaluations and reflections
  • Online course development

Evidence of Teaching from Others

  • Student evaluations of courses taught
  • Peer evaluations
  • Reports from classroom observations
  • Collegial comments and mentoring
  • Teaching honors, awards and grants
  • Invitations to speak and interviews on teaching
  • Feedback from students

Evidence of Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities

  • Published research articles in national, international and state professional journals
  • Exhibitions, installations, productions, performances or publications of original works, design, electronic media, film, journalism, literature, music, theater and visual arts
  • Book with major and/or local publishing company
  • Revised book
  • Section of book with major and/or local publisher
  • Editor of a book
  • Editor of a national, international, or state professional journal
  • Papers and speeches presented at national, international and state meetings
  • Research honors, awards and grants

Teaching, Learning and Research Philosophy

Periodically reflecting on the scope and direction of your teaching and research activities can help you develop philosophy statements in these areas. Explain how your philosophy has been put into practice in course syllabi, examinations, readings and assignments to establish a context of understanding and evaluating your overall record of effectiveness as a university professor.

Other Documentation of Good Teaching and Learning

In addition to keeping records of teaching and research activities, begin to keep document outcomes that demonstrate ways your courses provide excellent learning environments. These records can also act as a means of self assessment and personal growth and improvement toward efforts as an effective educator. Here are some examples of those endeavors:

  • Accommodating students with disabilities
  • Student essays, creative works and projects
  • Field-work reports
  • Laboratory workbooks or logs
  • Student publications
  • Student conference presentations based on course-related work
  • Graded essays (with names removed) showing excellent, average and poor work with your comments as to why they were so graded
  • Information on your students who are successful in advanced study in the field or those students who have earned academic awards
  • Statements by former students on your quality of instruction
  • Summary of student achievement on self-made or standardized proficiency tests, possibly before and after a course, as evidence of student learning
  • Information about the effect of your courses on student career choices
  • Assistance you give to students as they secure employment
  • Engaging undergraduate students in service learning and research
  • Innovative projects and assessments
  • Innovative approach to teaching such as using and involving students in
    • Social media and podcasts
    • Themed Learning Communities (TLCs)
    • Multiculturalism /international perspectives
    • Critical thinking
    • Collaborative learning
    • Interdisciplinary collaboration (both you with colleagues from other disciplines and your students with students from other disciplines)

NIU Awards for Teaching, Research and Engagement

Because teaching and research are of utmost importance “for attaining the educational goals of the university, outstanding teachers [and researchers are] are recognized by the university community” through a number of awards. These awards are granted yearly to those individuals who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and research and provide “support for current and future efforts” (NIU 2007, Para. 1).

Excellent instructors and researchers exhibit an intense interest in their fields and show relevance of its value to society. These individuals apply rigorous standards in the classroom and inspire students to excel. They demonstrate a strong commitment to students and their welfare, not only in subject matter and in class preparation, but by being available outside classroom to help students with course-related projects and activities as well as personal and professional development. The following highlight the NIU awards that recognize excellence in teaching, research and engagement. Learn more about internal awards.

Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award

The Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award honors tenure-track and tenured faculty who exhibit excellent undergraduate teaching in the university, encourage improvement of instruction promote discussion among members of the university community on the subject of teaching.

Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction Award

The purpose of the Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction Award is to honor excellent undergraduate teaching in the university, specifically among non-tenure track educators not recognized by the NIU Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, to encourage improvement of instruction and to promote discussion among members of the university community on the subject of teaching.

Excellence in Online Teaching Award

The purpose of the Excellence in Online Teaching Award is to encourage and honor outstanding online and hybrid teaching at NIU. It recognizes NIU faculty and instructors whose performance exemplifies a commitment to excellence in online teaching, course development and student engagement.

Presidential Teaching Professor Award 

Presidential Teaching Professors are acknowledged to be among the most notable teachers at the university who have demonstrated continuous excellence in the teaching of under-graduate and/or graduate students. 

Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor Award

Recipients of the Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor Award have received national or international acclaim for their scholarship, are among the researchers or artists of highest stature in their speciality, have made significant positive impact on the discipline nationally or internationally, and are judged to be likely to continue to make such impact.

Presidential Engagement Professor Award (PEP)

The Presidential Engagement Professor Award honors those tenure-track and tenured faculty through their engagement with the community through research, economic development, service and instruction. Establishment of these professorships places NIU in the company of the growing number of institutions which now recognize and reward this increasingly critical function.

Board of Trustees Professor Award (BoTP)

The Board of Trustees Professorship recognizes faculty who have achieved a consistent record of excellence in teaching, scholarship or artistry, service and outreach, and academic leadership; have earned a national/international reputation for professional achievements; and are deemed likely to make continued and substantial contributions in higher education. Special emphasis is placed upon the recognition of faculty who are renowned scholars/artists who have engaged students in their research/or and other professional activities.

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Suggested citation

Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2020). Documenting your teaching and research. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from

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