Peer Evaluation

The College of Fine Arts expects each department and school to ensure that peer teaching observation reports are conducted and submitted periodically for all full-time, perennial faculty, whether tenure-track or non-tenure track.

Peer teaching observation reports are an increasingly important part of promotion dossiers, Comprehensive Periodic Reviews of tenured faculty, or nominations for faculty honors.  Care should be taken to provide detailed, thorough, and constructive feedback on every faculty member’s teaching competencies on a regular interval as follows:

  • Assistant Professors should have a minimum of two peer teaching observation reports in the dossier for Third Year Review and not fewer than two more included in the tenure promotion file.
  • Associate Professors should have a minimum of three peer teaching observation reports in the dossier for promotion.
  • Non-tenure track faculty members should have a minimum of three peer teaching observation reports in the dossier for promotion.
  • A minimum of one peer teaching observation report from the six-year period under review should be in the dossier for Comprehensive Periodic Review.

Peer teaching observations should be assigned or approved by the chair, director, or his/her designee, but the individual faculty member bears equal responsibility to ensure that these observation reports are accomplished in a timely fashion.

In addition to evaluating teaching competencies, peer teaching observations can provide constructive learning opportunities for the faculty member. To that end, peer teaching observations are best conducted at regular intervals rather than being crowded into the several weeks or few months prior to a review or nomination. For promotion within non-tenure track ranks or for promotion to professor, the ideal would be one peer teaching observation report from each of the three years preceding the year the promotion is considered.

In each case, these guidelines set minimum expectations and not maximums or optimal goals. Each department and school is encouraged to adopt additional and more creative measures of teaching ability or improvement as appropriate, including but not limited to contracting external evaluators, observing the same class over a period of multiple semesters, conducting self-assessments, attending teaching development workshops, engaging faculty mentors, acquiring mid-semester course feedback, and encouraging teaching innovation.

Consistent with these guidelines, each department and school may set internal policy on peer teaching observation reports.

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost’s “General Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure of All Faculty Ranks Excluding the Medical School” outlines the University’s expectations: These reports are broad evaluations of the candidate’s effectiveness as a teacher at the graduate and/or undergraduate levels by those faculty members conducting the in-class observations. The reports should cover such elements as presentation, course content, organization, clarity of written materials, rigor and fairness of written examinations, appropriateness of methodology and student outcomes.

Peer observation reports should include the following, per provost’s guidelines:

  1. Number and title of course observed
  2. Date of report
  3. Date of classroom observation
  4. Description of methods by which instructor engages students in learning
  5. Date on which the observation was discussed with the candidate
  6. Constructive advice
  7. Any specific improvement from previous peer observation reports
  8. Name and signature of observer(s)

Information on how to conduct a peer classroom observation is available on the Peer Teaching Observation web page of the Faculty Innovation Center.