9.12 Peer Review of Teaching

Author: Carolyn Ives

What is Peer Review of Teaching?

Nancy Van Note Chism (2007) defines peer review of teaching as “informed colleague judgment about faculty teaching for either fostering improvement or making personnel decisions” (p. 3). Peer review of teaching can serve varied purposes as defined institutionally by either policy or collective agreements. Ideally, faculty regularly seek out peer review as part of reflective practice and continued professional growth and development throughout their teaching careers.

What Does Effective Peer Review of Teaching Look Like?

There is no single right way to undertake peer review. Reviewing the performance of a peer is complex, and accordingly, literature about peer review of teaching offers sometimes contradictory perspectives about what practices work best. The research on peer review of teaching, however, is consistent in demonstrating that this process is most impactful and effective when it is faculty-driven and fosters mutual respect between reviewer and reviewee. Good peer review of teaching involves a considerable time commitment as it strives to be flexible enough to accommodate all types of delivery and faculty roles, while also involving evidence-based progress and recognition for departments. (Thompson Rivers University Peer Review Working Group, Adapted from Chism, 2007; Bandy, n.d.; Hyland et al., 2018; Brent & Felder, 2004; Cavanagh et al., 1996.; Keig, 2000; Aman, 2009; Golparian et al., 2014).

What is an Evidence-Based Process for Peer Review of Teaching?

Based on a review of literature and processes at many institutions, here is an example of a good peer review of teaching process. Information included in this process example was created by the Thompson Rivers University Peer Review of Teaching Working Group and has also been borrowed or adapted from Chism, 2007; Hyland et al., 2018; Brent & Felder, 2004; Cavanagh et al., 1996; Keig, 2000; Aman, 2009; Golparian et al., 2014; and University of Saint Katherine, n.d. Other institutions may use other peer review processes, such as differentiating between summative and formative peer review processes, restricting who is eligible to be a reviewer, or omitting the reflection/action plan.

 

Example process:

  1. Peer review training is provided for faculty
    • Who is trained and what training looks like varies from institution to institution, but training can provide helpful guidance for those undertaking peer reviews of teaching.
  2. Review is initiated
    • Again, how this happens—including timing and frequency—may depend on a policy or a collective agreement and whether the purpose for review is formative or summative.
  3. Reviewee and reviewer(s) are matched
    • Sometimes it’s great to receive a review from subject-matter expert, and sometimes it might be better to have a review from a teaching and learning expert. Selecting a reviewer should depend on the goals of the reviewee and purpose of the review.
  4. Pre-review meeting(s) happen(s)
    • Ideally, the reviewer and reviewee will meet at least once in advance of the review (in-person, over the phone, or through e-mail). The reviewee can share context, identify their goals for the review, and share any other pertinent documentation or information with the reviewer to help guide the review. Participants might also discuss criteria or standards outlined in the structured observation form to ensure a common understanding of critical elements.
  5. Review occurs
  • The review should take place at a previously agreed-upon date, time, and place—there should be no surprise reviews. The reviewer should evaluate the relevant materials and record their observations using the structured observation form, prioritizing any goals previously highlighted by the reviewee. For a face-to-face class, the reviewer should visit the class during a live teaching session and be as unobtrusive as possible and stay for the entire class when possible (Chism, 2007). The reviewee might also complete a self-appraisal for the course being observed.
  1. Post-review meeting(s) happen(s)
    • Ideally, a brief meeting should happen directly after the observation/review, and a longer discussion should happen once reviewee and reviewer have had an opportunity to reflect on the class/workshop/activity and the reviewer has had time to review the materials in light of the observation and the goals of the reviewee. The reviewee should have an opportunity to respond to the feedback, and this conversation should inform the reviewer report that follows. Golparian et al. (2015) provide evidence-based practices for this discussion.
  2. Reviewer composes and submits the report
  • Ideally, the reviewer(s) and reviewee work together to complete a report that includes consideration of all relevant instructional materials/classroom observation(s), student outcomes, and input/comments from the instructor. The report should include strengths, reflection, and areas for improvement.
  1. Reviewee reflects on and uses the feedback
    • Ideally, the reviewee reflects on the feedback in the report and composes a brief refection and action plan and implements the action plan in future course planning and delivery.

What Roles Can Educational Developers Play in Peer Review of Teaching?

Educational developers can create the training for peer reviewers as well as offer forms for the pre-observation meeting, classroom observation, post-observation meeting, document and other classroom resource review, and reviewee reflection and action plans. Educational developers also make excellent reviewers, as they can point teaching faculty to teaching and learning resources.

Resources

Aman, R. (2009). Improving student satisfaction and retention with online instruction through systematic faculty peer review of courses. Dissertation for Oregon State University.

Bandy, J. (n.d.) Peer review of teaching. Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/peer-review-of-teaching/

Brent, R., & Felder, R.M. (2004). A protocol for peer review of teaching. Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition.

Chism, N.V. (2007). Peer review of teaching: A sourcebook. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Golparian, S., Chan, J., & Cassidy, A. (2015). Peer review of teaching: Sharing best practices. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, 8, 211-218.

Hyland, K. M., Dhaliwal, G., Goldberg, A. N., Chen, L. M., Land, K., & Wamsley, M. (2018). Peer review of teaching: Insights from a 10-year experience. Medical Science Educator, 28(4), 675-681.

Keig, L. (2000). Formative peer review of teaching: Attitudes of faculty at liberal arts colleges toward colleague assessment. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 14(1), 67-87.

Thompson Rivers University Peer Review of Teaching and Instructional Support Working Group. (2020). Draft Peer Review Process.

University of Saint Katherine. (n.d.) Faculty observation and evaluation of classroom teaching.

 

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