Peer Review may serve two purposes. One purpose is for formative assessment, where a faculty member wishes to improve teaching in general or to address one specific teaching issue. Observations can be discussed informally or the faculty member may ask the reviewer(s) to write up a summary that could be used in his/her teaching dossier.
The second purpose of Peer Review is for summative evaluation where a judgement is being made on the performance of the faculty member for the purposes of promotion.
This document outlines best practices for both formative and summative Peer Review. Information has been gathered and assessed from universities across Canada, including our own, and the United States. A resources section is included at the end. Faculties are invited to adapt/adopt the options presented to fit the disciplinary paradigms, department policies and available resources. A process should be chosen that can be implemented consistently (for example, the same number of observers and the same number of observations).
It is believed that a Peer Review process for the purposes of summative evaluation should be as consistent as possible within one university campus. However, this document consists of guidelines and suggestions and may be used at a department’s discression and modified as needed.
Peer review is usually thought of as the classroom observation piece of a summative assessment and as such, is only one part of a larger review process that may include monitoring and assessing such things as student achievement, professional and ethical behavior, thesis supervision, quality of research, institutional and community service, among other things.
The UBC Collective Agreement Article 4.02 lists the following factors as the criteria by which teaching performance is judged for decisions of reappointments, tenure, and promotion: “Evaluation of teaching shall be based on the effectiveness rather than the popularity of the instructor, as indicated by command over subject matter, familiarity with recent developments in the field, preparedness, presentation, accessibility to students and influence on the intellectual and scholarly development of students.”
Peer review is considered to be a valuable addition to the student evaluations that are collected each term because many aspects of teaching practice either do not appear in the classroom and so are invisible to student evaluations (course design, curriculum innovation) or may not be within the students ability to meaningfully assess (instructor expertise with subject matter, appropriate rigor of student assessment). Peer Review will diversify a teaching dossier by offering this different perspective. Peer observation of teaching offers critical insights needed to provide a fuller and more accurate picture of instructional effectiveness.