Peer review is an important component of teaching evaluation as faculty colleagues can provide evaluation of teaching that is far beyond the expertise of students such as feedback on the rigor of assessments, appropriate level of material, and instructor knowledge. Faculty peers can provide perspectives on ways to improve teaching based on their own experiences—positive and negative. Peer review can also result in benefits to the department such as conversations about criteria for excellent teaching and the sharing of successes and challenges in the classroom.
WCTL instructional designers are available to consult with departments and faculty committees to help develop or revise strategies for peer review of teaching. To request an appointment, email [email protected].
Effective peer review of teaching includes the following steps:
During this meeting, the peer observer and instructor discuss the class, including a review of the syllabus, student learning outcomes, and course materials (including assessments). The instructor may also show components of the class that are posted in the LMS.
The observer should ask these questions:
- What will happen in this class period? What can I expect to observe?
- Are there specific aspects of the class for which you would like to receive feedback?
- What kinds of formative assessments and summative assessments do you use?
Departments should discuss and establish criteria appropriate to the discipline. Here are some examples of criteria to consider for a classroom observation:
- Class purpose – How well does the instructor explain the purpose/outcomes/topics of the class?
- Organization – Is the class well-organized and does it flow well between parts of the class (lecture to discussion, for example).
- Reinforcement of major concepts – Do the activities and materials used in class reinforce the major concepts and align with the student learning outcomes?
- Pacing and Amount of Material – Is the material presented at an appropriate rate? Is the amount of material covered reasonable for the class time?
- Atmosphere – Has the instructor established a safe atmosphere conducive to student learning? Do students seem to feel comfortable asking questions?
- Diversity and inclusion – Does the instructor engage with the majority of students? Is the instructor respectful of diverse opinions and perspectives? Does the instructor employ a diverse set of pedagogical approaches to accommodate a range of student learning modalities?
- Class management – Does the instructor effectively manage the class? How does the instructor manage disruptive students (if applicable)?
- Classroom assessment – In what ways does the instructor employ formative assessment to check for comprehension and solicit feedback?
Following the class observation, the peer observer and instructor should meet to review the class evaluation. Departments should develop a post-observation process that reflects departmental teaching expectations for peer review. Here are some guidelines to consider for a post-observation meeting:
- Share observations and perspectives on what took place during the class.
- Share feedback on syllabus, class materials, and assessments.
- Discuss specific suggestions for improvement.
- Set goals and development plan.