An effective peer review should provide instructors with evaluative and actionable feedback on their teaching and be a valuable supplementary piece of evidence when assessing a faculty members teaching effectiveness in the merit and promotion process.
When you agree to conduct a peer evaluation of teaching a 3-4 hour commitment is appropriate. You may find a sample review form to be a helpful start. We have linked several below, and they can be adjusted to suit the needs of each course–obviously, a studio art class would need a different rubric than a large engineering lecture or a language course.
An evaluation done early in the quarter (such as week 3 or 4) is most helpful as it provides feedback the faculty can use to adjust the course as appropriate.
Conduct a pre-observation meeting
Ideally the reviewer will ask the instructor to recommend a specific class to attend and will meet with the instructor at least a week before the observation. It is often helpful for the reviewer to create a pre-observation list of topics (see sample form below) in order to get some context for the observation. This is also a good time to ask for a copy of the course syllabus, gain access to the course website, and/or discuss any other information pertinent to the day’s lesson.
Reviewer can share the peer review rubric or form they will be using. Reviewer may also want to ask if there are particular issues, concerns, or behaviors on the instructor wants feedback. For smaller classes where a newcomer’s presence is likely to be noticed, the instructor may want to explain who the individual is and why s/he is there (i.e., “I want to help you to learn as much as I can; my colleague is here to give me some feedback on how I might enhance your learning.”)
Carry out the observation
The reviewer should take notes during an observation. Observable behaviors (both the instructors’ and students’), as well as concrete examples are the most helpful. The reviewer can include any analysis, evaluation along with observations as time permits.
Conduct a post-observation meeting
Timely feedback is the most useful (within a week of the observation). Ideally the reviewer should:
- provide feedback on issues the instructor was particularly interested in
- give examples of teaching elements done well
- give feedback that is actionable (such as speaking more clearly, or increasing opportunities for student discussion or practice)
- ask for clarification about anything that was confusing
The focus is not primarily on the content of the course, but whether the content is taught in a way that maximizes student learning and is equitable to all students.
Write a summary and response
Reviewer: The reviewer should write up and send the instructor a summary of the evaluation that describes the organization of the course, observations of teaching choices that worked well, and suggestions of activities that might be improved.
Instructor: Ask the instructor to prepare a short response to the summary, ideally after additional teaching has occurred where they have attempted to make changes. Their response should address 1-3 points from the summary that they either changed in the course immediately (such as pausing longer in order to allow student questions) or that they plan to make in the next iteration of the course (such as providing a reading quiz each week to increase student preparation).
Submit the evaluator summary and your response
For submission for merit or promotion, the instructor can upload the evaluator summary and the instructor response as one document.
- Similar instructions from a UCI Department
- Pre-observation meeting agenda
- Simple observation form for handwritten notes
- Good teaching checklist (to get ideas about specific behaviors to look for)
- Sample summary from University of Michigan.