Peer Observation of Teaching

Peer Observation of Teaching, Spring 2020

This is not a normal quarter. Summative peer reviews of teaching (i.e., ones that impact merit, promotion, and/or tenure) should reflect this reality. How we adapt our peer observation of teaching for this quarter will look differ from School to School, but we offer some points for consideration.

Before jumping into an observation, determine if you need a peer observation of teaching this quarter. Check with your School if you are not sure. If it is not required, consider formative assessment options available to you, including informal peer review of aspects of your course--this can be as simple as a conversation with a colleague or your School’s Remote Instruction Faculty Facilitators, and/or anonymous mid-quarter feedback from your students. UW Bothell’s Digital Learning Team can also provide a range of support, from informal feedback to a semi-formal Quality Matters review.

If you need a formal peer observation of your teaching, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs has confirmed that a written narrative of a discussion with a colleague about your course, including online materials and teaching methods, will be sufficient for a peer observation this quarter. As you develop your process, consider the following criteria to guide the evaluation. As you do this, adapt expectations to the reality that faculty moved their courses online under emergency circumstances.

Instructor presence –What evidence is there that the instructor is connecting with students? Evidence of an instructor’s presence might be found in:  

  • Text-based connections such as announcements, emails, gradebook-based feedback, participation in online discussions

  • Video-based connections such as video lectures and scheduled/recorded Zoom sessions

Student-to-Student Interaction – What evidence is there that the instructor is creating/providing opportunities for students to interact with each other? Evidence of student-to-student interaction might be found in: 

  • Discussion opportunities (text-based prompts, online discussion forums)

  • Collaborative activities 

  • Breakout sessions in Zoom

Student-to-Content Interaction – What evidence is there that the instructor is providing students access to course materials relevant to learning outcomes? Evidence of student-to-content interaction might be found in: 

  • Video lectures

  • Content pages in Canvas 

  • Links to readings and other resources 

Timely and effective feedback – What evidence is there that the instructor is providing students with timely and effective feedback on their work? Evidence of timely and effective feedback might be found in: 

  • Gradebook-based feedback

  • The use of rubrics 

  • Posts in discussion thread

  • Summaries and reflections on students’ performance in text-based or video-based announcements

Accessibility – What evidence is there that the course content is accessible to students? Evidence that the course content is accessible may be found in:

  • The use of closed captions in videos

  • The addition of alt text to images

  • The use of descriptive language to contextualize figures and diagrams

  • The inclusion of an accessibility statement and contact information for the Disability Resources for Students office in the syllabus or elsewhere in the course

  • The use of a clear, consistent organizational scheme for course content

Diversity and Inclusion – Does the instructor employ pedagogies and offer content that invites and celebrates multiple, diverse perspectives and ways of knowing? Evidence that the instructor values and advances diversity and inclusion in the course might be found in:

  • The inclusion of diversity/inclusion language in the course syllabus and in other areas of the course

  • The instructor provides learners with opportunities to influence the content of the course

  • The instructor provides learners with opportunities to draw on their own experiences

  • The course materials reflect the perspectives and experiences of multiple identities and communities

  • The instructor provides learners with opportunities to demonstrate their learning in different and multiple ways

Assessment – Does the instructor provide students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning? Does the instructor provide students with low-stakes opportunities to build their skills and knowledge? 

You can also consider adapting this form to guide both the observation and peer discussions about teaching this quarter. 

This resource was written by Penelope Moon, Acting Director of Online Learning Strategy and Karen Rosenberg, Acting Director of the Teaching and Learning Center.