Peer Observation

We offer the following general recommendations for conducting a peer observation. Deans and chairs can email to arrange for a consultation for the specific needs of their department/program.

Observer’s Role

  • Follow the pre-selected observation protocol
  • Simply describe what happens during the session (not evaluate), 
    • focus on describing the instructor’s and students’ actions and behaviors
    • include any structural and/or situational observations unrelated to the instructor

Pre-Observation Preparation and Meeting

Successful teaching observations start with a pre-observation meeting between the instructor and the observer. The purpose of this meeting is: 

Post-Observation Analysis

The observer reviews their notes as soon as possible after the observation, ideally the same day, and summarizes in words what they observed: What worked well? What might need improvement? 

Draft an evaluative summary considering the pre-meeting discussion and the observation notes. Feedback may include suggestions on the most important things the instructor could do to improve student learning in the current semester and/or the following one. Characteristics of effective feedback include concreteness, positive phrasing, and action-oriented emphasis. A rubric might be useful here to help the observer review their observations and formalize their impressions, such as this sample Instructor Evaluation Rubric.

Post-Observation Debrief Meeting

The instructor and observer meet to debrief together within a few days of the observed class. In this conversation, the instructor discusses how they experienced the class and the observer shares their feedback on what they saw, making sure they include the areas the instructor discussed in the pre-meeting. Instructor and observer make plans for improvements collaboratively and identify next steps together. 

Formal Evaluation

After these steps, the observer formalizes their evaluation of what they observed and shares this documentation with the instructor, so that the instructor may have an opportunity to respond as well as keep these materials on file.

Description, Protocols, and Guidelines from Peer Institutions