Teaching and my academic career

A teaching portfolio is required for all academic promotion proceedings as well as for renewals of academic positions. It allows a teacher to showcase their teaching experience and skills, to describe their approach to teaching and learning and to highlight the various teaching-related projects and activities to which they have contributed. 

The exact contents, specifications, and format of your teaching portfolio will depend on your section. Here are some of the documents that your section might require (non-exhaustive list):

  • a detailed description of your courses and the underlying pedagogy used in each one. See How to write a course description. 
  • In-depth evaluations of your courses. Your CAPE pedagogical advisor can help you with this, see ‘Feedback from CAPE about your teaching’. 
  • A list of your participation in all types of pedagogic activities (commissions, seminars, research, projects, etc.) See Continuing education in teaching and learning

Article 10 of the Directive concerning the evaluation and recognition of teaching at the EPFL (LEX 2.5.1) gives you further details on the teaching portfolio content.

At EPFL, Tenure-Track Assistant Professors (PATTs) go through the tenure process before being appointed as an associate or full professor. During this process, they have to meet various benchmarks and deadlines which can vary between sections. However, according to the Rules and Regulations Concerning EPFL Tenure-Track Assistant Professors LEX 4.2.1., Here are some of the benchmarks that you should be aware of:

  • Annual reports (Every year). Include: 
    • updated CV
    • activities from the past year and objectives
  • Mid-term review report (see Article 8). To be submitted at the end of the third year and to include all the information you would include in your final candidature application. 
  • Candidature file submission. To be submitted, at the end of the sixth year of your PATT appointment at the latest. This will include (non-exhaustive):
    • A summary of teaching activities, 
    • Detailed academic career plan: Teaching, 
    • Full teaching file, including in-depth evaluations of several courses given in particular at the foundation year and Bachelor levels

It is advisable to meet with your pedagogical advisor regularly, and request in-depth evaluations of your courses so that you can ensure that you have all the data you need to complete your candidature file.

Various academic titles are used in EPFL and there are procedures in place with respect to the awarding of these titles. 

Information on the academic titles of scientific staff can be found here.

Information on the academic titles of professors (e.g. tenure track assistant prof, associate prof, full prof, funded prof, visiting prof. etc.) can be found here.

For Tenure Track Assistant Professors (PATT) and scientific staff the criteria of evaluation of tenure and promotion applications are very similar:

  1. quality and extent of teaching activities, evaluation by the students and in-depth evaluation (such as those by CAPE);
  2. quality of teaching content, quality of teaching material;
  3. creativity as far as pedagogical skills and methods are concerned;
  4. supervision of practicals or semester projects, Master projects and doctoral theses;
  5.  participation in activities of general interest specific to the curriculum.

Further details on promotion procedures for tenure-track professors are found here. The 2020 update is here.

Further details on promotion for senior scientists are found here.

Teaching load statistics serve to take stock of teaching activities and to analyse them. They are based on data from the study plans checked and completed by each teacher.

These statistics take a ‘facts & figures’ approach. For each teacher, a personal table summarises teaching activities and classes by course level (preparatory, Bachelor, Master, PhD, continuing education and miscellaneous). It also sets out three types of activities:

  • Lectures and recitations/exercises;
  • Practical courses (also called TP and including practicals or lab work) and projects;
  • Student support (Master projects, theses, etc.).

The indicators are calculated as follows:

  • For lectures and recitations, the indicators consider the teacher’s share of teaching and credits allocated to the teaching activity. Where no credit is allocated (e.g. preparatory year or continuing education), 14 teaching hours is equal to 1 credit.
  • For practical courses (practicals, lab sessions) and projects, the credits allocated to the teaching activity are multiplied by the number of students.
  • For student support activities, the number of Master’s projects, theses and students with tailored curricula is calculated according to the teacher’s share of support. For example, for joint thesis supervision each teacher’s contribution rate is 0.5.

The average workload of a full or an associate professor is estimated to be 2-3 courses (based on a lecture-exercise course of 3 ECTS and a lab or practical course of 4 ECTS, with 30 students). In addition, they will support 2 Master projects and the supervision of 5-6 PhD students.

It is important to bear in mind that this is only an average and that actual loads may vary.

Pedagogical advisors can accompany you along your journey into teaching, and developing teaching skills from the moment you arrive at EPFL. If you need advice, please contact an advisor.

Your section secretaries, as well as your colleagues can also provide useful help and advice.