The Peer Evaluation of Teaching

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 member’s 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. 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. The steps below outline an effective peer evaluation:

  1. Conduct a pre-observation meeting
    1. 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.
    2. It is often helpful for the reviewer to create a pre-observation list of topics in order to get some context for the observation. Below are sample forms from multiple resources:
      1. Similar instructions from a UCI Department
      2. Pre-observation meeting agenda
      3. Simple observation form for handwritten notes
      4. Good teaching checklist (to get ideas about specific behaviors to look for)
      5. Sample summary from University of Michigan.
    3.  The sample forms can be adjusted to suit the needs of each course (i.e. a studio art class would need a different rubric than a large engineering lecture or a language course).
    4. 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 for which 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 they are 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.”)
    5. Carry out the observation. The reviewer should take notes during an observation. Observable behaviors (both the instructor’s and students’), as well as concrete examples are the most helpful. The reviewer can include any analysis, evaluation along with observations as time permits.
  2. Conduct a post-observation meeting: Timely feedback is the most useful (within a week of the observation).
    1. Ideally the reviewer should:
      1. provide feedback on issues the instructor was particularly interested in
      2. give examples of teaching elements done well
      3. give feedback that is actionable (such as speaking more clearly, or increasing opportunities for student discussion or practice)
      4. ask for clarification about anything that was confusing
Note: 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 accessible and equitable to all students.
  1. Write a summary and response
    1. 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.
    2. 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).
  2. 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.

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