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Peer Observation

Peer Observation of Teaching

Teaching is not a “one-size-fits-all” activity, and thus the peer observation and feedback process must accommodate such variability to be most useful to departments and colleges.  The experience should be viewed as a formative, collegial dialogue, tailored to both the approach of the discipline and the needs of the teacher being observed.

Peer observation can be either formative or summative.  Formative observations are designed to provide guidance and advice to help an instructor improve. To be most effective, formative evaluations should be confidential and should remain the property of the instructor being observed.  Formative peer observations give the instructor opportunities to reexamine their teaching with an observer who is a colleague.  Summative evaluations are not confidential and usually performed for use in personnel decisions such as promotions and for comparison in relation to other colleagues in the department (ISU CELT).

Peer observations generally consist of pre-observation, observation, and post-observation, and may include a reflective summary.

  1. Pre-Observation: Two-part process consisting of 1) examining the course materials, and 2) having an intentional conversation with the instructor about class expectations and context to provide necessary background for the observation.
  2. Observation: Includes observing both individual and group behaviors in a specific class to help instructor and observer “see” teaching and learning from a different perspective.
  3. Post-Observation: Post-observation is a follow-up meeting of the observer and instructor to discuss observations and have a conversation about teaching and learning.

The following tools and templates are being offered for use by departments or schools who wish to use a pre-existing peer observation tool.  Use of these materials is not required by the university but are recommended as examples of best practices in teaching. Departments may use them as written, or edit to add, reword, or remove criteria.

  1. Classroom Teaching Peer Observation Protocol [pdf] – from the University of Southern California Center for Excellence in Teaching, modified with permission (see resources below).
  2. Peer Observation of Teaching Form [docx] – from the College of Education at the University of South Carolina, modified with permission.
  3. Online Teaching Peer Observation Form [docx] - from the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of South Carolina

Additional Resources: 


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