Peer Evaluations

Peer Evaluation Guidelines

Peer evaluation, or review, is the process by which one faculty member observes another and gathers information about the latter’s effectiveness in the classroom. The teaching and learning processes are evaluated, as is the educational environment established by the faculty member. While peer evaluations can be used for both summative and formative purposes, the evaluator must understand the particular purpose for his or her review.

A Typical Sequence of Peer Review of Teaching

This entire sequence will take approximately four to six hours. This includes preparation time in reviewing the materials prior to the class, the observation itself, and the follow-up with the reviewer and faculty.

Self-Review: Faculty members should evaluate their strengths, weakness, achievements and areas of difficulty prior to the review. They should identify any particular areas in which they want feedback.

Pre-Observation Conference: At some point prior to the peer’s visit to class, the faculty member and the evaluator discuss the following kinds of questions:

  • What are the main learning goals for this course?
  • What are the major learning goals for the class session(s) to be observed?
  • What do you expect learners to know and/or be able to do at the end of this lesson(s)?
  • What materials will you use to help learners achieve these outcomes?
  • What teaching methods or strategies will you use to help learners achieve these outcomes?
  • How will you assess what students learn in this lesson(s)?
  • Are there any particular areas of concern that you’d like feedback about?

The Class Observation: During the class session, the evaluator uses information from the pre-observation conference to shape the observation. For consistency, each department may wish to develop its own observation instruments, or a department may wish to adopt and adapt one of the instruments commonly used in universities across the country. To see examples, please visit the peer evaluation page, maintained by the Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence. On the day of the observation, the reviewer should plan to stay for the entire duration of the course session. A reviewer may also want to observe the peer more than once.

Other Peer Review Considerations: In addition to conducting the classroom observation, the reviewer should also spend time reviewing and providing feedback on course materials and ocuments. If possible, this should be done both before and after the classroom observation. The purpose of this review is to establish the effectiveness of the documents themselves and the effectiveness of their use in the classroom setting. How effectively did the materials provided to the students help to achieve the course goal?

Post-Observation Conference: Feedback should be provided to the observed faculty member as soon as possible after the observation(s) take place. It is a good idea to establish criteria for feedback, including how and when it takes place, prior to the observation. Both parties should agree to the established criteria. The reviewer should take time to explain and discuss the review and its findings. The observed faculty member should have the opportunity to discuss and explain the different aspects observed in the course.

Written Report: The written report should include details, explanations, and clarification that both the reviewer and the observed faculty member find agreeable. It should be a fair, accurate, and constructive assessment of the observed faculty member’s teaching strengths and areas for improvement, and it should address the issues discussed in the pre- and post-observation conferences.