April 29th, 2008

Teaching Philosophy Statement


“I believe that I should continuously improve my teaching skills and the content of my courses. This includes keeping the material current with the state of the art in the academic literature and in practice; finding new ways to make the material appeal to students’ curiosity; making efficient use of class time; and introducing new pedagogical tools that recognize diverse learning styles and enhance my ability to reach my students.”

So, concludes a list of teaching philosophy points that appears in an upper-division accounting course taught by Ray Pfeiffer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It appears as an example of a teaching philosophy statement in Judith Grunert O’Brien, Barbara Millis, and Margaret Cohen’s new edition of a great book, The Course Syllabus (Jossey-Bass, 2008). The book doesn’t propose a definitive list of what should be included on a syllabus, but it does outline a number of possibilities, and best of all it includes multiple examples that illustrate each of the possibilities.

I was impressed that someone would include a professional development statement as a philosophical tenet. Sharing this particular belief with students shows them that they are not the only ones making an effort to grow, develop, change, and improve in the course. I think that’s powerful.

After the philosophy of teaching statement, Pfeiffer concludes with an eloquent affirmation of his commitment to teaching. If I were a student in this class, I think I’d be really glad I was taking the course from this guy.

“Love of teaching was my first inspiration to pursue an academic career. In my eleven and a half years of teaching, I realize that I love it even more than I thought I would. My work as a teacher is a crucial part of my contribution to my profession, to the university, and to society. As such, the privilege to teach continues to be an enormous source of personal reward and inspiration to me.”

—Maryellen Weimer