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Definition of Peer Review

Definition of Peers

Types of Reviews

Formative Procedures

Summative Procedures

Summary of Best Practices

References and Resources


Observation for Formative (Developmental) Purposes

Formative peer observation is highly recommended for non-tenured faculty and for all faculty prior to a summative observation of teaching. This process may be initiated by a faculty member or the department to assist the individual teacher in improving their teaching effectiveness.

General guidelines for classroom observations apply to both formative and summative observation processes. These guidelines are: 1) Peer Reviewers should develop observational skills prior to observing a class, 2) A single classroom observation by one rater is not a reliable indicator of teaching quality, 3) Preobservation information is essential to provide contextual information, 4) During the observation, a variety of approaches can be used to focus the observation from checklist to open ended questions, 5) Observers should try to be as unobtrusive as possible, 6) Observing over a substantial amount of time is needed to allow the teacher and the students to relax, and 7) The observer should complete post observation notes, forms, or other reports while the information is fresh.

Formative peer observation may be focused on one or more areas of teaching that the instructor wants to improve or develop. Some examples of areas of improvement are questioning techniques, student time on task, amount of active participation, use of inquiry guided learning techniques, etc. The methods used to record observations are extensive. There are many examples of forms and checklists that are widely available in books and articles on faculty development. (see references and resources)

The following are types of reflective questions that are often used in developmental observations.

1. Did the lesson proceed in the way you had planned? Why?

2.Did the students react to the lesson in the way you thought they would?

3. During the lesson, did you feel condifent and enthusiastic? Why?

4. Do you think the students learned all that you wanted them to learn in this session? What brings you to that conclusion?

5. What did you do to encourage the students to actively participate in the lesson?

6. What did you learn about teaching from this class?

7. What did you learn about student learning from this class?

8. What targets for improvement have you set yourself for this calsss, and are they realistic?

9. If you taught this class again tomorrow, what would you do differently? and why?

Adapted from: Killen, R. (1995) "Improving Teaching Through Reflective Partnerships." To Improve the Academy


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Last Updated:
Wednesday, September 24, 2003