As  the TFELT report discusses, a growing body of research provides support for the value of self-reflection aimed at improved teaching performance in higher education as well as the K-12 context (Kirpalani, 2017). Specifically, self-reflection enables educators to exercise agency in their own professional knowledge and development.

For this reason, beginning in Spring 2024 the University of Missouri requires the completion of an annual self-reflection on teaching from every educator participating in the annual review process, using a framework developed by TFELT.

Completing and Submitting the Self-Reflection for Annual Review

The Annual Teaching Self-Reflection will be submitted as part of the annual review self-report on the myVITA platform.

To complete the annual teaching self-reflection process successfully, faculty should follow these steps, in order:

  1. Consult the myVITA page on the Provost’s website to confirm how to access and submit the Annual Teaching Self-Reflection.
  2. Click here to download a Word document (also available on the Provost’s myVITA page) with a stable copy of the complete directions and prompts provided on the Annual Teaching Self-Reflection form on Qualtrics. This document includes explanation and guidance for key areas of the self-reflection that you will also find on the Qualtrics form.
  3. Read over the prompts and decide on two points for the self-reflection:
    1. One (1) course taught over the past calendar year that will be the focus of the self-reflection;
    2. One (1) of the four Dimensions of Inclusive and Effective Teaching that will be the focus of the relevant portion of the self-reflection. Complete details on all four are in the document to provide guidance.
  1. Complete and save the Annual Teaching Self-Reflection in a copy of this Word document before navigating to the Qualtrics form. You will want to complete and save the reflection in a personal copy of this document for two reasons:
    1. to easily copy-and-paste your responses into the Qualtrics prompts on a given page before the survey form times out, and
    2. to maintain a personal record of your annual self-reflection that can be used for ongoing teaching reflection as well as revision of some sections (e.g., teaching philosophy statement) to simplify subsequent annual reviews.
  1. The prompts will include optional opportunities to submit supplemental artifacts to support the self-reflection (e.g., course syllabus, sample assignments, teaching materials, etc.). Identify any supplemental files to include in advance so they can be easily located and uploaded later.
  2. Access the Annual Teaching Self-Reflection from myVITA page on the Provost’s website and complete the online form, copying-and-pasting your responses from the saved document and uploading optional supplements into the form. Remember that your responses will only save when you advance the page, and the Qualtrics form will time out if the page isn’t advanced in 60 minutes.
  3. After submitting the form, faculty will instantaneously receive an email from “Cathleen Wood” with a link to download a PDF of their completed self reflection. This should be attached to the corresponding course in the Activities Section in myVITA. Please name the file “lastname_course dept and number_selfreflection”.
  4. Access the Annual Teaching Self-Reflection from the myVITA page on the Provost’s website and navigate to Activities / View Teaching / section C: Course Attachments. Locate the course that you discussed in your self-reflection and click the “Add” button to upload your self-reflection PDF file.

Later on, you will be able to access your self-reflection PDFs from previous years by navigating back to the Faculty Activities / Teaching section of myVITA and locating the “Course Attachments” section.

Why Write a Teaching Reflection?

The Task Force to Enhance Learning and Teaching (TFELT) observed in their June 2021 report that “[r]eflecting on one’s classroom and pedagogy is a cornerstone of learner-centered teaching (Blumberg, 2016), and is thus essential in ensuring inclusive and effective teaching.” 

The importance of teaching reflections dates to educational philosopher John Dewey (1933) who defined “reflection” as: 

the active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it (p. 9).  

Schön’s influential The Reflective Practitioner (1983) examines “reflection-in-action” – the cognitive process of making sense of an experience as it happens – and “reflection-on-action” – a retrospective examination of an experience to make sense of choices and actions –as primary means for professionals to learn from their experiences. Blumberg (2016) describes the process articulated by Dewey and Schön as “an action– reflection–action cycle” (p. 90). 

When it comes to teaching in higher education, Ashwin, et al. (2015) provide a compelling argument for understanding effective teaching for learning as the product of reflective practice that involves regular questioning of our assumptions regarding our identity, teaching contexts and practices. They explain how such self-examination of teaching practice relies both on discovering and making use of evidence and on engaging in dialogue with local colleagues and even public audiences. In doing so, we might avoid important inconsistencies between the teaching philosophy we espouse and our actual teaching behaviors (Blumberg, 2016). 

Whether applied to our classrooms, labs, studios and clinics, a reflection on our teaching asks us to carefully consider the beliefs and assumptions behind our choices and actions with teaching, including our approaches to designing our courses and assignments, how we relate to our students, and how we assess student learning. We can do so in the moment as we teach and, importantly, can incorporate regular reflection on our teaching with the benefit of hindsight to consider successes, challenges and potential alternative approaches.

While self-reflection on teaching can initially seem daunting, ultimately the activity boils down to discovering answers to three basic questions offered by Weimer (2010):

  • Who am I (as a teacher)? 
  • What do I do (as a teacher)? 
  • Why do I do what I do when I teach? 

Universities across the nation ask faculty to complete annual teaching reflections. These reflections can take many forms: from informal reflections used for formative assessment of teaching on the one hand, to formal reflections used for summative assessment of teaching where they count toward contract renewal and annual promotion and tenure processes, on the other. 

Regardless of format, an annual commitment to teaching reflections signals a university’s dedication to inclusive and effective teaching to students, educators, and the university culture. 

Teaching reflection provides opportunities to grow in your teaching and evolve your teaching practices over time in sync with the ever-changing student body. Among other benefits, a teaching reflection enables you to: 

  1. Explain your teaching philosophy
  2. Explain your reasoning for teaching choices
  3. Describe the thinking-process behind teaching decisions, both in structure and in-class
  4. Provide key examples of teaching approaches
  5. Contextualize student feedback and performance
  6. Identify areas for improvement, next steps, and goals 
  7. Identify your needs as an educator
The Teaching Self-Reflection for Annual Review 

The Office of the Provost requires that university educators participate in an annual teaching self-reflection, grounded in goal setting and the university’s dimensions of Inclusive and Effective Teaching. 

The TFELT subcommittee on Teaching Self-Reflection developed, piloted, and refined a Qualtrics survey tool as a mechanism for facilitating self-reflection by educators on campus between November 2020 and March 2021. As the TFELT report explains, the development of this tool was based on four guiding priorities: such a tool needed to be efficient, substantive, balanced, and useful in order to warrant the time and effort required of educators to complete it. 

Integrated with existing annual review processes, this tool enables educators to reflect on their evolving teaching philosophy, prior goals, student feedback, inclusive teaching, course objectives, activities and assessments, and one dimension of effective teaching. 

This reflection also provides educators the opportunity to provide self-generated evidence of teaching effectiveness as support for the various responses to the prompts. These supporting artifacts – whether they be course syllabi, sample assignments, examples of assessed student work, or other documentary evidence – enables educators to provide a richer and more complete narrative of their teaching work than was previously available in the previous system’s “summary of teaching accomplishments.”

The reflection prompts ask the educator to:

  1. List at least one course that is the subject of this year’s reflection
  2. Describe mentoring and advising duties
  3. Reflect on aspects of one’s Teaching Philosophy
  4. Contextualize student feedback results in terms of one’s teaching practices and observations
  5. Provide examples of inclusive teaching practices and/or goals for future inclusive teaching
  6. Explain how course assessments and learning activities are aligned to course learning objectives
  7. Reflect on one of the four Dimensions of Inclusive and Effective Teaching:
    1. Welcoming & Collaborative
    2. Empowering & Supportive
    3. Structured & Intentional
    4. Relevant & Engaging

These prompts also include explanations and hyperlinks to helpful resources provided for clarification and assistance during the reflection process.

The annual teaching self-reflection takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, based on the pilots TFELT ran in 2020 and 2021. Completing your self-reflection may take longer the first time, particularly if you do not already have:

  • A previously written teaching philosophy statement; and/or, 
  • Previously constructed course learning objectives for the class you wish to reflect on for the review.

After the initial self-reflection the time to complete reflections for subsequent annual reviews will likely decrease, because some elements of the reflection (particularly the teaching philosophy statement) may only require minor revisions rather than completely (re-)writing them. 

Writing and saving your self-reflection responses each year in a word processing document or PDF before submitting them in the Qualtrics tool is highly recommended. Not only will this help you avoid losing your work if Qualtrics times out, as well as complete future self-reflections more quickly, but over time you will also develop a useful record of how your teaching assumptions and practices change over time. 

Because you can change the courses and/or Dimension that you reflect on from year to year, maintaining a personal record can also help you keep track of areas you have already considered carefully and areas of your teaching on which you have not reflected yet.

Click here for a Word document with the prompts provided in the teaching self-reflection now included on myVITA for annual reviews. 

Assessing the Self-Reflection in an Annual Review

The contents of the teaching self-reflection submitted on myVITA will be examined by the educator’s chair and/or others responsible for annual review decisions on the department level. TFELT’s recommendations in this area emphasize the importance of assessing these self-reflections in a manner that fosters a growth mindset for the educator and encourages candid self-disclosure regarding areas of challenge in teaching as well as areas of strength in teaching. The most important function of teaching self-reflection is to facilitate an intentional and honest examination of one’s professional practice, as well as goal-setting and establishing plans to address areas of challenge for improvement and innovation in teaching. 

In order for the annual teaching self-reflection to facilitate such professional growth and development, an educator’s self-disclosure of personal or professional challenges in teaching should not be used against them by department reviewers as evidence of “ineffective teaching.”

The statements and artifact evidence in the self-reflection will not be made part of subsequent promotion and tenure materials presented by the department to the college and university, unless the faculty member chooses to provide them as part of their evidence of teaching effectiveness. Department chairs will, however, be asked to indicate to college and university reviewers whether annual teaching self-reflections have been completed appropriately by the tenure or promotion candidate.

Resources for Effective Self-Reflection on Teaching

The MU Teaching for Learning Center has created a mini-course on Canvas to assist educators on campus to understand and complete the annual teaching self-reflection more effectively. 

Click here to access the Canvas mini-course on Teaching Reflection to learn more about the benefits of teaching reflection and how to complete your self-reflection for annual review .

Besides explaining how to complete the TFELT self-reflection, this mini-course provides additional insights on important elements of teaching for learning integrated into the self-reflection. These include:

  • writing teaching philosophy statements
  • constructing effective learning objectives
  • aligning course assessments and activities to learning objectives
  • practicing inclusive teaching principles.

This mini-course is one in a series developed to help members of the campus community better understand and use TFELT’s recommendations for teaching evaluation. 

Additional resources in this area may be found on the “Resources” page of this website.




Ashwin, P., Boud, D., Calkins, S., Coate, K., Hallett, F., Light, G., Luckett, K., MacLaren, I., Martensson, K., McArthur, J., McCune, V., McLean, M. & Tooher, M. (2020). Reflective teaching in higher education (2nd Ed.). Bloomsbury Academic.

Blumberg, P. (2016). How critical reflection benefits faculty as they implement learner-centered teaching. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 144, 87-97. DOI: 10.1002/tl.20165

Dewey, J. (1933; 1910). How we think. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books. 

Kirpalani, N. (2017). Developing self-reflective practices to improve teaching effectiveness. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 17(8), 73-80. 

Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Jossey‐Bass.

Weimer, M. 2010. Inspired college teaching. Jossey-Bass.