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Professional development: Guide on how to use a teaching philosophy exercise as a tool to increase self-awareness of your own role as a teacher and enhance your pedagogical approach.

Conference contribution
Authors Angelica Hagsand
Published in Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP)'s 16th Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT). San Antonio, Texas, USA: 20-21 October
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords teaching exercise, professional development, philosophy, teaching quality
Subject categories Philosophy, Ethics and Religion, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary, Psychology, Pedagogy


An excellent tool for professional development with respect to teaching and pedagogy is to use the guide with a teaching philosophy exercise found in the article by Beatty et al. (2009a) , and the present talk will provide a walk through the exercise. The aim of the exercise was to become self-aware of your own beliefs about teaching and understand some of the connections to traditional philosophies (e.g., idealism, realism, pragmatism, existentialism, and critical theory). The authors argues that our own philosophical beliefs about the world is very much translated to teaching (e.g., What is knowledge? What is evidence and science? Which sources should we trust? Should the teacher be the authority?). Beatty et al. (2009a) argues that teachers’ different philosophical views leads to different practices in the classroom with for example different emphasis on structure or flexibility during the lecturing hours as well as outlined in the course syllabus and in the assignments. In sum, the exercise took around 2-3 hours and the first step involved a guided imagery task where you were instructed to think back on a very effective versus ineffective teaching session. The second step was a card-sort exercise of 84 cards. On the front of each card was a conceptual term (e.g., “Maintaining high intellectual standards”, “Writing”, “Learning by doing”) and the task was to organize those into two piles, one pile which included cards which best represented your own teaching and one pile which included cards that did not represent your teaching. The third step was to organize the remaining cards into smaller piles with a common theme. The fourth step was to turn the cards over to see where the concepts originate philosophically, in order to help you consider the main traditions of your teaching craft. Fifth, writing a teaching statement based on the outcome of the teaching exercise enhances your self-awareness of your own pedagogy. Beatty, J. E., Leigh, J.S.A., Dean, K. L. (2009a). Finding our roots: An exercise for creating a personal teaching philosophy statement. Journal of Management Education, 33, 115-130.

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