“Formative peer review of teaching is focused on the long-term enhancement of teaching and learning. Even when mandatory, the process should be primarily driven and guided by the faculty member’s personal goals, by feedback from students and/or colleagues, and/or by a desire to address problems in a specific course or academic context” (Smith, 2014).
Faculty development scholarship has addressed the different purposes, procedures, and responsibilities that distinguish formative from summative evaluation of teaching. As the first quote illustrates, formative evaluation focuses on the improvement of teaching. In contrast, summative evaluation leads to a judgement of teaching effectiveness use for merit, tenure, or promotion decisions.
Peers play an essential role in the formative evaluation process and peer observation of classroom teaching is a primary component of the process:
“Peer observation of teaching provides a structured framework for the ongoing improvement of teaching and learning practices through peer collaboration and discussion. Observation is a valuable tool for both the observed and the observer as it is about the sharing of excellence, the promotion of a greater sense of collegiality, dissemination of good practice, individual development, and improving the quality of student learning” (Macquarie University, 2010).
Peer observation is a mandatory component of both formative and summative evaluation of teaching at Denison and the required procedures and actions are described in the Faculty Handbook. The final report produced by Denison Task Force on the Evaluation of Teaching Effectiveness and Student Learning (TESL) includes the comment that:
“Peers … serve as potential experts- both in the subject matter as well as in the pedagogy of the discipline. As such, peer evaluators provide an important, seasoned, collegial perspective on the instructional goals, methods, and environment. Though our peers may be subject matter experts in their discipline, they may need training in how to conduct peer evaluation” (p. 78).
The materials and resources collected here are meant to provide support for Denison faculty who participate in peer observation of teaching – either as the observed or as the observer – and for academic departments and programs engaged in developing and conducting classroom observations required for formative peer review of teaching.
Conducting Classroom Observations for Formative Evaluation of Teaching
Models, Guidelines, and Resources
This information is also relevant to individuals, faculty groups, or departments who want to conduct peer observation of teaching as part of a plan for mentoring and faculty development. Individual faculty or departments can contact Lew Ludwig (Director, Center for Learning and Teaching) for additional resources or support.
In addition, the Center has already established programs where individuals (at any academic rank) can arrange to have their teaching observed. Another program provides non-tenured faculty with an opportunity to observe senior colleagues teach.
Faculty and departments should contact the Provost’s Office for questions regarding the Faculty Handbook policies on formative and summative evaluation of teaching.
Peer Review of Teaching Resources
The resources and information compiled for these pages have been selected from faculty development scholarship and research articles which are available online. The following resources are highly recommended for faculty, administrators, and academic departments who are involved in peer review of teaching, classroom teaching observations, formative evaluation of teaching, and faculty mentoring. Additional resources are linked throughout these pages.
Peer Review of Teaching (This chapter covers the goals and challenges of peer review and provides specific guidelines on how to conduct a classroom teaching observation process.) (Downloaded from: Kite, M. E. (2012). Effective evaluation of teaching: A guide for faculty and administrators. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/evals2012/index.php
How to Collaborate With Peer Observation (Macquarie University; Peer review models and guidelines are presented, and an Appendix contains examples of observation and feedback materials.)
Peer Review of Teaching (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh; A manual that covers all aspects of peer reivew including the process and materials used for classroom observations)