Peer observation provides both observers and observed instructors with the opportunity to reflect on teaching and to consider the impact of specific instructional choices on student learning.
Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- A method of engaging in peer review should be consistent across the department
- It is important to utilize a protocol (see the resources below for samples)
- Decide who will be doing class visits–ideally one person or a pair for all visits
- Meetings before and after the class visit are essential
- Provide guidelines for how to talk with students about these visits
Consider instead a Developmental or Peer-to-Peer rather than evaluative approach to Peer Observation
- Consider the teaching squares model from University of Calgary’s Taylor Institute in which classroom visits are reciprocal and peer-to-peer, or
- Consider classroom observations in non-review years
The TLC’s guide to doing peer observations of teaching includes a pre-observation questionnaire for discussion between observer and instructor; a protocol for observing a class; and a post-observation questionnaire for discussion between observer and instructor. These recommended tools invite a non-evaluative discussion of teaching that is instructor-focused and allows for observers to share information about what they notice in the classroom relative to instructor goals and student learning.
These peer observation protocols are intended to provide structure and consistency to peer classroom observations. The templates and examples below draw heavily from the UTeach Observation Protocol (UTOP: https://utop.uteach.utexas.edu/) and the Oregon Teacher Observation Protocol (OTOP): Wainwright et al. 2003).
In this model for peer observation of teaching, participants reflect on what can be learned about their own teaching by observing their colleagues, instead of providing evaluative feedback. The guide supports participants to establish goals before the observation, provides a template for observation, and promotes the observer’s development of a plan to try out new teaching approaches based on the observation.
This guide provides concrete strategies for choosing observers, tools for engaging in peer observation, ideas for both pre- and post-observation discussions, and resources for self-assessment to make the most of the peer observation process.