Peer Observation of Teaching, AY 2020-21
This is not a normal academic year. 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 praxis will differ from School to School, but we offer some points for consideration here. Before jumping into an observation, determine if you need a peer observation of teaching. Check with your School if you are not sure.
If a formal peer observation of teaching is not required, consider formative assessment options available, including informal peer review of aspects of your course--this can be as simple as a conversation with a colleague, 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 difficult 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
- 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 threads
- 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 – Evidence that the instructor values and advances diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the course might be found in:
- The inclusion of DEI 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 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?
This resource was written by Penelope Moon, Director of Digital Learning and Engagement and Karen Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Learning and Teaching Collaborative.