The overall peer review procedure should be centered around an observation of a class session and a self-assessment by the faculty member being reviewed.
1. Establishing criteria and the process. The department as a whole should meet to discuss what good teaching looks like for them, what about their discipline sets teaching in their department apart from others. They should also determine the criteria to assess in the review, and decide on the overall process, adopting/writing/modifying any guides or forms needed in the process. It is important to keep in mind that reviews should consider equity and inclusion- assessing and encouraging faculty’s efforts to create a welcoming and productive classroom environment for all students- not just the faculty member’s ability to convey content. The department may find it useful to establish a peer teaching review committee to settle on the overall process and carry out the reviews, though the department as a whole should be kept informed about the protocol and how it works.
The process should be consistent and reliable. It should also be formative: it should help the faculty member being reviewed to identify what they are doing well, what could use attention, and should identify strategies to address those areas.
2. Pre-observation preparatory meeting. The faculty member and reviewer should meet before the class observation to discuss:
a. The kind of course to be observed. Is it for first years or graduate students? Majors or non-majors?
b. The faculty member’s learning objectives for the course as a whole and for the class session to be observed in particular.
c. How the course fits into the department’s learning objectives and overall curriculum.
d. How the course fits into the University’s goals for undergraduate or graduate education.
e. The faculty member’s teaching philosophy and general approach to teaching the class. Is it a discussion-based course? Are there lots of student activities and worksheets? Lots of lecture?
f. How the faculty member typically assesses student learning. One or more small quizzes, worksheets, or writing exercises every class session? One or two big papers or exams? Something in between?
g. Whether the class session to be observed is likely to be a typical one for the course. If not, in what ways will it be different?
h. Whether there is a particular teaching practice the faculty member has been working on (perhaps something identified in a previous review) to which they would like the reviewer to pay particular attention.
3. Class session observation. The reviewer should attend at least one full session of the faculty member’s class. An observation guide or protocol should be used to direct the observation process; this will help the reviewer to remember practices to look for, make it easier to be objective, and improve consistency with other reviewers. Observation guides generally fall into two categories: holistic ones best completed after the class session is finished, and time series ones in which the observer records all student and instructor activities occurring in the class in real time. Links to TEP’s recommended observation guide and other observation instruments are available here.
4. Faculty member self assessment or inventory. The faculty member being reviewed should fill out a self assessment or inventory that encourages them to reflect on their teaching practices and how they implement them. This could entail filling out a form analogous to the observation guide the reviewer used when observing the class; this approach allows direct comparison between the faculty member’s intentions and sense of what happened and the reviewer’s observations. Another possibility is a more comprehensive inventory of the instructor’s views and teaching practices; this can give a wider view of the instructor’s approaches and how they fit with the research on how people learn and teach effectively. Links to TEP’s recommended self assessment and other possible self-assessment forms are available here.
5. Post-observation meeting. The peer reviewer and faculty member should meet to discuss the class observation and self assessment. This meeting should be conducted with a view to providing support for the faculty member’s teaching efforts and developing a plan for improving them. Topics to address:
a. What does the faculty member think went well in the class session?
b. What would the faculty member change about the session? Why and how?
c. Are the practices used in class and identified in the self-inventory consistent with research on teaching and learning? (References available in the TEP Peer Observation Guide)
d. How did the faculty member work to build an inclusive and welcoming class environment?
e. The faculty member and reviewer should together identify one or two specific areas the faculty member could work on, and talk about their efforts and progress in those areas during the next review.
f. Talk about what each of you learned during the review process.
6. Report. The review process should produce a letter or report to be placed in the faculty member’s file. The report should:
a. Be separate from the instrument used in the observation and self-inventory. Those completed forms should not be included with the document placed in the faculty member’s file. This separation is meant to allow for a more frank, and therefore more useful, appraisal and discussion of the instructor’s teaching philosophy, intentions, and practices without the risk of the forms being misinterpreted due to lack of context.
b. Detail which instruments were used for the self-evaluation and to guide the observation.
c. Use information from the instruments to construct an accurate picture of the instructor’s teaching philosophy, intentions and practices.
TEP recommends that the faculty member being reviewed should either see and agree to the report’s content prior to its submission or have an opportunity to comment formally on it after submission. The faculty member should also have copies of any other forms completed for the review, such as the observation guide and self assessment. Links to TEP’s recommended report template and other examples are available here.