Optional Recommendations and Best Practices
Peer teaching observations should be conducted longitudinally, which means that the same course should be observed during different semesters, with a peer teaching observation report documenting each observation. The course can be observed by the same observer or by a different person. The advantage of this longitudinal method is that when taken together, these multiple peer teaching observation reports will demonstrate how the faculty member developed that course over time and whether they were responsive to input. When it is not possible for faculty to receive an observation of the same course, faculty should aim for observations of the similar pedagogical methods or modalities.
When possible, the department chair or school director should ask newly hired and newly promoted assistant- and associate-rank faculty to identify one course with learning experiences and pedagogical approaches that they want to develop or improve, and that should be the course that is observed.
The observee should be responsible for scheduling the observation for a day when they are actively teaching. The length of the physical observation need not be for the entire length of the class period and can consist of multiple visits to a single class on different days. The observee should provide the following to the observer for review before the classroom observation:
- Any specific requests for attention within the observation.
- Syllabus and other pertinent course materials or Canvas access.
- Any previous peer teaching observations of this course.
- CIS results and written comments from previous offerings of this course or a course with similar pedagogical approaches.
- If informal student supervision, advising, student mentorship, and one-on-one coaching is a significant part of the observee’s teaching and career profile, the observee should specifically request and arrange for peer feedback on these activities by the observer.
The observer should take note of any markers of excellence about the syllabus and course material, or themes in the CIS results. Likewise, the observer should take note of any areas for improvement in syllabus or course materials, or any distressing or consistent themes in CIS comments. Finally, observers should note what other peer observers have recommended for this observee in the past and follow up with the observee on any specific recommendations made by previous observers.
Optional: meet with the observee before the class to discuss the goals and desired outcomes for the class day being observed.
Before starting the observation, the observer should have a plan for what they are looking for during the observation. If the department or school has a template, use it. Take notes while watching, especially of innovative, effective, and ineffective methods in the classroom. Use the KEE method (identify what to Keep, Enhance, and Eliminate) to organize your recommendations. Look for evidence of teaching presence (pedagogical leadership in the classroom), cognitive presence (thinking and engagement with the subject matter), and social presence (an engaged learning community working together). Document any formal and informal student-faculty advising interactions and/or supervision witnessed.
Draft the written report. In addition to the required material described above, the written report should:
- record broad observations of the candidate’s effectiveness as a teacher, including covering such elements as presentation, course content, organization, clarity of written materials, rigor and fairness of written examinations, appropriateness of methodology, and student learning outcomes
- assess whether the observee was responsive to advice offered by previous peer observers of that course and is developing over time and/or if the observee was receptive to advice provided in the current observation
- review, summarize, and respond to student course evaluations and student written comments from prior semesters in the observed course or a similar one;
- result in a constructive post-observation conversation between the observer and observee.
Observer and observee should meet to discuss the observation(s) and the observer’s written report, noting successes and areas for improvement. The observee should take notes, ask questions, provide explanations of outliers, and express openness to feedback.
The observee can write a self-reflection of the observation to be submitted with the observer’s written report.
The observer adds commentary about the post-observation discussion, signs their report, and gives the final copy to the department/school staff and the observee.
Additional Resources and Templates
Templates from Faculty Innovation Center
Page last updated: 7/25/2023