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Peer evaluation

Peer evaluation is the structured provision of feedback between teachers.  It can be a useful way for teachers to receive feedback on their teaching in order to supplement student evaluation and their own self evaluation.  Peer evaluation can also be problematical.  The greater the discussion and building of mutual trust and understanding between those concerned, the greater the chance of success. 

Peer review may include any aspect of teaching and teaching preparation, including:

  • Course outlines

  • Syllabi

  • Reading lists

  • Texts, study guides, non print materials and handouts

  • Problem sets, assignments

  • Copies of graded examination and research papers

  • Examples of teacher feedback to students on written work

  • Grade distribution and description of student performance

  • Examples of completed assignments

  • Design of new courses

  • Statements of activities aimed at improving teaching

  • Examples of changes made on the basis of feedback

Process for peer review

Pre-review conference  

The reviewer and teacher to be reviewed meet to discuss and agree exactly what will be reviewed and the process for undertaking the review.  An important part of this agreement is the form and spirit in which the feedback will be given.

Review  

This includes the reviewer reading materials and undertaking observation activity.

Analysis  

The reviewer considers review notes and develops the process for providing feedback.

Post-review conference

This is probably best done orally, with written notes supplied to provide a record.  In the post review conference the reviewer should provide commendations, direct observations and suggestions for improvement.  However, it is important for the reviewer to resist attempting to clone their own particular approach or style.  The teacher reflects on the event and makes notes concerning things they would like to change and new things they will try next time.

Guidelines for peer review of lecturing

A schedule (doc 32kb) for peer review of lecturing includes the following:

  • preparation

  • structure/organisation

  • interest

  • effective communication

  • relating to students

  • additional comments

The purpose of a lecture is to facilitate learning, where learning is broadly defined as students engaging with, interacting with, and actively thinking about the material.  No matter how polished the lecturing performance, if learning is not facilitated, the lecturer will have failed.  Each of the following categories needs to be conducted with the view to facilitating learning.

Preparation  

This may be demonstrated either prior to the lecture when meeting with the observer or directly after the lecture.  Preparation can be demonstrated by presenting a lecture plan.  A lecture plan might include such things as the expected learning outcomes for the lecture, the key concepts to be covered and their sequence, the activities planned for the lecture and the reasons these particular activities were selected.

Structure/organisation  

This can be demonstrated by providing a clear structure that is easy for students to follow, and by thinking through and providing good organisation of the points to be discussed during the lecture.  Students should be provided with a clear and structured outline or agenda for the lecture.  Links may be drawn between the lecture and previous lectures or tutorials/laboratories/seminars, and use made of signpostsduring the lecture to show where the lecturer has been and how the next section links with what they have been talking about. 

Interest  

Stimulating student interest can be achieved in a number of ways, from the use of analogies and stories, personalising the lecture by bringing in personal experience or understanding of the area, and using a variety of different activities during the lecture.  The lecturer may also want to demonstrate their own interest in the area. 

Effective communication  

This category focuses on the mechanics of communication during the lecture.  Speaking audibly and clearly, making good eye contact with people in all sections of the lecture theatre, effectively using the resources of the room [if appropriate], effectively using video, powerpoint, overhead transparencies etc.  This is not to say that media have to be used, but if they are used they should be used effectively.

Relating to students  

This includes all interactions with students, using examples which take into consideration student diversity, using non sexist language and encouraging student responses.  It also includes being approachable and respectful of students rather than being arrogant and demeaning.

Additional general comments  

Refers to other areas or issues that the observer wishes to note during the lecture.

Useful links

University of Western Australia,

University of Queensland, Teaching and Educational Development Institute: Guidebook for Individuals Embarking on Peer Review of Teaching (pdf 68kb)