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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


Classroom Observations

Classroom observations of teaching are probably the most familiar form of peer review. Although this activity can be very valuable when completed with all recommended components by a prepared individual, it can also be very unreliable when completed by an unprepared individual with a single brief visit. Listed below are some overall guidelines provided by Nancy Chism in "Peer Review of Teaching: A Resource Book." (Chism, N. (1999). Peer Review of Teaching. A Sourcebook. Boston, MA: Anker).

General Guidelines for Class Observations

  1. Peer Reviewers need advance preparation to increase the reliability of results. It cannot be assumed that peer reviewers are knowledgeable in classroom observer procedures.
  2. Classroom observations should be conducted at least three times to establish reliability for summative evaluation purposes. A single classroom observation by one rater is not a reliable indicator of teaching quality. Lewis (1988) recommends recommends that two reviewers must observe at least twice during the offering of a course.
  3. Pre-observation information is necessary to provide contextual information about the course, instructor, and the students.
  4. During the classroom observation, a variety of approaches can be used to focus the observation. These include analytical approaches that use checklists or rating forms to videotaping, or more specialized systems such as teacher behavior coding and mapping techniques.
  5. The observer should be as unobtrusive as possible.
  6. For the instructor and class to relax into typical patterns of behavior, observing over a substantial amount of time is necessary.
  7. Following the observation, the observer should complete the notes, forms, or other reports while the information is fresh.
  8. The peer and the instructor should debrief the class session, with each providing reflections. The observer should provide constructive feedback with the goals of helping the instructor if the observation was for formative purposes.

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Last Updated:
Wednesday, September 24, 2003