Augustana Center for Teaching and Learning
Guidelines for Peer Review (Classroom Observation)
It is recommended that the focus be on formative evaluation, in other words, providing faculty with information they can use to improve student learning and more effective teaching. The peer review should be for the faculty member’s personal use – rather than as a public evaluation.
The feedback might be more effective if the observation is more focused on specific areas rather than general observations about everything. To do this, it is recommended that the faculty member meet with the observer before the class to ascertain what the goals of the class are. This is also a chance for the faculty member to focus the observer’s attention on areas of concern. Examples might include:
- Appropriateness of class objectives
- Appropriateness of teaching methodology
- Effectiveness of techniques to foster student learning
- Course organization
- Student/teacher interaction, etc.
- Logistics of observation (i.e., where to sit, do student know that someone is observing and why, how long will the observer stay)
- Reviews could also include examination of written material. (i.e., tests, syllabi, graded tests)
Observers might also focus on general issues with the class that might include:
- Content (cohesiveness, structure, explanation)
- Communication (clarity, voice, visual aids)
- Pace (speed, interest, variety)
- Style (enthusiasm, empathy, rapport)
- Who asks the questions in the class discussions?
- How often does the instructor call on male vs. female?
- What is the general mood of the students? (i.e., alert and animated vs. inattentive and restless)
- Where does the instructor stand in the room? (i.e., favoring one side versus another)
- General observations about the classroom environment.
Many recommend that the observer withhold specific comments or judgment until the faculty member has a chance to reflect on the class and reach some conclusions on their own. The observer should start by prompting the faculty member with questions that might illicit important issues. Questions that reviewers may wish to ask faculty member after the observation:
- Did the lesson proceed in the way you had planned?
- Would you classify the class session as typical or atypical? Why?
- Did the students react to the lesson in the way you thought they would?
- During the lesson, did you fell confident and enthusiastic? Why?
- Do you think the students learned all that you wanted them to learn in this session?
- What did you do to encourage the students to actively participate in the lesson?
- What did you learn about teaching from this class?
- What did you learn about student learning from this class?
- What targets for improvement have you set yourself for this class, are they realistic?
- If you taught this class again tomorrow, what would you do differently?
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