WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
How do you know that your teaching is effective? How do you best prepare students for courses that they take subsequent to completing your course? What do students learn in any prerequisite courses prior to coming to your course?
Teaching and learning does not occur in the bubble of individual courses alone. Curriculum is linked, and students engage with an instructional community during their time at UCLA. Instructors can greatly benefit from opportunities to meet with each other and exchange feedback on their teaching and course design.
Each department has a different approach to the peer observation of teaching – some are quite structured and others non-existent. This guide includes a variety of some of the best resources we’ve found for conducting peer observations. Many refer directly to evidence-based teaching practices, with some being more open-ended, and others being more concrete, based on rubrics and checklists.
An important point: Given the many dimensions and holistic nature of teaching, it is challenging, if not impossible, to accurately evaluate someone’s teaching effectiveness. These tools help faculty and observers note what is happening and where improvement can occur, to foster reflection and better-directed effort rather than absolute evaluation.
HOW CAN I IMPLEMENT THIS SUCCESSFULLY?
The following tools provide structure and guidance on conducting peer observation of teaching. We suggest reviewing some of the options below and determining what works best for you and your colleagues – with or without modifications.
This document describes a structured form of peer observation, including a detailed set of open-ended questions to consider when observing faculty:
UCLA’s Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) has worked with the UCLA Center for the Advancement of Teaching; Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences; and Division of the Humanities, to develop, pilot, and refine resources that support formative faculty peer observation at UCLA
List of Observable Research-based Teaching Characteristics: This list helps peer observers provide feedback on teaching practices shown by research to support student learning, including references to research showing the link between the practice and enhanced learning. [Adapted from University of Oregon]
The University of Oregon recently revamped their peer review procedures for teaching, creating the TEP Peer Teaching Observation Form with citations for the efficacy of each observable practice. This can be a great launching point for discussion of your departmental feedback form.
University of Kansas has developed a rubric for the evaluation of teaching, based on an AAU grant, which they encourage departments to modify as needed.
If implemented, we recommend introducing it first on a voluntary basis, and as a tool to foster reflection and growth rather than with high stakes.
UC Berkeley also provides a suggested protocol of pre-meeting, observation, and post-discussion (“Peer Review Form”): “Please note teaching strengths as well as provide suggestions for pedagogical improvement, whenever possible, as a supplement to evaluative comments. This form is not meant to be used as a checklist to observe and evaluate, rather it should generally frame the evaluation and serve as a starting point for identifying appropriate areas to address given the discipline, instructor teaching style and individual class session goals.”
The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University has a comprehensive guide on best practices for peer review of teaching. Visit this resource.