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Professional Development Institute: Peer Review

Professional Development

Peer Review in a Nutshell

Rubrics and Checklists: One Size Does Not Fit All

While you can find many examples of peer evaluation rubrics and checklists, you probably will not be able to locate one that fits your needs perfectly. The college could develop a set of criteria that fit all instructors and that should be included in all teaching peer review rubrics, but I would argue that rubrics should be individualized to departments, to ensure you are covering the things you need to cover. For example, for faculty who teach lab courses, there should probably be some place to record information on how well the instructor used the lab equipment. My suggestion would be that departments develop their own rubrics or checklists as a team and that they use the same instrument across the board (everyone in the department should use the same instrument).

Ideally, a rubric would be developed long before you actually use it. Just as rubrics we use with our students, rubrics provide guidance to help the reviewee understand what they will be evaluated on. This is another reason rubrics and checklists should be developed specifically for your needs. You want to include those things that are most important to your institution, division, and department.

Peer Review In a Nutshell

  1. There are two types of peer review: Formative peer review is used when you wish to evaluate and improve teaching skills. Faculty evaluate each other and make suggestions on how to improve teaching skills. Summative peer review is used for making personnel decisions, such has promotion, reappointment, and tenure. Information gleaned from this type of evaluation provides information to allow the evaluator to compare teaching effectiveness to other peers.
  2. Peers are the best judges of subject matter expertise and of instructional materials, activities, and assessments used.
  3. General Steps:
    1. Usually, there is a pre-observation meeting where the reviewer and reviewee discuss the plan for the class. This would be a good opportunity to review the syllabus to see if there are any areas of improvement.
    2. The next step is the classroom evaluation visit. The evaluator sits in on the class and observes.  
      1. Does the faculty member effectively manage the class?
      2. Were the activities and lecture/presentation well organized?
      3. Were major ideas emphasized and reinforced in the lecture, materials, and activities?
      4. Was the material presented at a suitable rate to cover the material? Was enough material covered? Was too much covered?
      5. Has the instructor created a safe, respectful environment that is conducive to effective learning?
      6. Has the instructor created an inclusive environment? Did everyone have an opportunity to participate on the same level? Were some groups/types of students left out?
      7. How did the instructor check for understanding? Did he or she solicit feedback? How were students assessed? What types of assessment were utilized?
    3. In some cases, the faculty who is being reviewed writes his own evaluation (using a form similar to the reviewer’s).
    4. After the classroom observation is complete, the two faculty meet to discuss their assessments of the class. They write a report that includes assessment notes and suggestions for improvements.
  4. Feedback is important. It is important that the reviewee be open for feedback and that the reviewer offer feedback in a respectful manner. Both should agree on the criteria to be observed/evaluated, and they should stick to developed standards.

Peer Review of Teaching Resources


(I recommend reading at least the ones in bold)

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