1. Establishing the process.
The department as a whole should meet to discuss what the overall peer review process will be, how to make it consistent and reliable, and if they will adopt/write/modify any guides or forms needed in the process. 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.
In addition to being useful in periodic formal evaluation, peer review should serve a formative purpose: it should help the faculty member being reviewed to identify what they are doing well and 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:
Course Context and Professional Teaching:
- What are the overall goals of the course? Where does the course fit into the department or university curriculum? How large is the class what kinds of background knowledge and skills do students bring?
- How does this lesson fit into the rest of the course? For example, what happened in the previous lesson, what will happen in the next lesson, how are students expected to prepare for this lesson, what out-of-class learning is related to this lesson?
- Is the class session to be observed likely to be a typical one for the course? If not, in what ways will it be different?
- How do you believe students learn? How do you structure your classes to maximize student learning?
- What kinds of diversity have you observed among your students and how do you think about inclusive teaching?
- Are there particular inclusive teaching practices you’d like me to look for and describe?
- Is there a particular teaching practice you have been working on (perhaps something identified in a previous review) to which you would like me to pay particular attention?
- How do you model and bring students into the culture of inquiry characteristic of your field?
- How do you convey the goals for the course to students and help them understand the alignment between their daily activities and assignments with achieving those goals?
- In what ways and when do you give students feedback including informally or to the entire class?
- How is your instruction designed to engage, challenge and support students?
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 the review more 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 on the Peer Review of Teaching page.
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 on the Peer Review of Teaching page.
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:
- What does the faculty member think went well in the class session?
- What would the faculty member change about the session? Why and how?
- What examples of professional, inclusive, engaged, and research-informed teaching stood out to the faculty member? To the reviewer?
- 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.
- Talk about what each of you learned during the review process.
The review process should produce a letter or report to be placed in the faculty member’s file. The report should:
- 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.
- Detail which instruments were used for the self-evaluation and to guide the observation.
- Use information from the instruments to construct an accurate and detailed picture of the instructor’s approach to professional, inclusive, engaged, and research-informed teaching.
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 on the Peer Review of Teaching page.