Peer Observation of Teaching
Peer observation is the process of an instructor being observed by a colleague with the purpose of encouraging his/her professional growth in the field of teaching and learning. The process can enhance teaching practices, build collaboration and collegiality, and improve the quality of instruction and educational experience for our students. In collaboration with a larger committee of faculty, the Center for Innovation Teaching and Learning (CITL) has established a process for peer observation that we would encourage you to consider.
This process is intended to:
- Improve student success by providing a mechanism for improving the quality of teaching and student learning on campus.
- Create a standard for teaching performance using establishing benchmarks supported by empirical evidence.
- Expand the evaluation of teaching beyond SITE evaluations.
- Promote collegiality and collaboration within academic units. Such efforts can highlight individual strengths and identify areas where resources could be allocated for improvement within the unit.
- Provide a source of innovation through the sharing and dissemination of unique and effective techniques and strategies within and across departments.
If you are thinking about conducting or requesting a peer observation, please keep in mind that
- Successful observations are primarily used as a formative process, as opposed to a summative/evaluative process, to assist instructors as they grow in their understanding and application of teaching principles.
- Observed instructors should have full control over the use of observation data. They may they elect to use it as a part of their promotion and tenure file, annual review, and/or to develop a teaching improvement plan.
- Instructors should use peer observations along with other data points, such as student evaluations, to evaluate their teaching skills and overall effectiveness. Instructors can demonstrate their teaching skills by triangulating different sources of data/information.
- It is important to have a trusting collegial relationship between the Observer and the Instructor to ensure the process is a positive learning experience for the Instructor and successfully nurtures his/her teaching skills.
If you would like to participate in peer observations or would like to facilitate them within your department, we would strongly encourage you to participate in a short training session (30 minutes) with the CITL prior to your observation. To request more information about peer observations or to schedule a training for your department, please contact the CITL.