Faculty Peer Review: Adapting the Process to Your Context

Suggestions for adapting the review process

Initial Conversation

The purpose of this conversation is to establish goals for the observation and provide useful background information for the Observer.

Questions to ask the Observed:

  • Initial conversation between the observer and the observed.
  • How can this process be most useful for you?
  • Is there anything specific you would like to focus on?
  • Are there things you’ll be trying for the first time in this session?
  • How would you describe this group of students?
  • Are there materials that I can look at ahead of time that will help me understand what I will be watching when I come to observe?


For the Observer:
Peer observation and feedback is a process of (a) informal data collection and reflection-in-the-moment as much as possible, and (b) a distillation of your observation notes into themes or episodes to offer your colleague for reflection.

(a) Informal data collection and reflection-in-the-moment

Arrive in class early if possible and seat yourself somewhere unobtrusive. Take detailed notes about what the instructor is doing, how engaged the students appear, how things seem to be “working, ” questions or suggestions you have, and so on.If the teacher is covering material with which you are familiar, try not to get too caught up in specific details of the content as much as paying attention to the overall instructional experience.   To help with this, look over the “Observation Organizer” questions below.To organize your observations and reflections consider using the following structure—often one can use key words and shorthand in the moment, and flesh out the notes after the fact:

9:00Begins class with housekeeping, review, learning objectives slideNice review of last class and how it prepares for this class. Learning objectives are very small—difficult to read from the back
9:05Overview of PTSD symptoms and learning mechanisms involved: sensitization, overgeneralization, resistance to extinction.Floats out from behind the podium a little, but moving further to the left and right of the room would create more energy and engage more students by being closer to them.
9:10Self-deprecating joke about e-mail.Class laughed easily. Seems like good rapport.
9:15“Did everyone hear Larry’s question?”A few students did need it repeated.
9:18“Any other questions?”   Moved on quickly.It looked like a couple students were maybe working up to asking some questions. Perhaps waiting longer?
9:20-9:35Diagnosing steps for PTSD according to the DSM.This is a somewhat long and detailed list. I’m seeing students check out a little bit towards the end. Perhaps break it up? Include some kind of brief activity?

(b) Distilling your observations into useful themes

After the observation, it is helpful to review your notes and organize them into useful themes, highlighting both Strengths and Questions/Considerations.To make this review most effective, consider using our Observation Organizer, which is based on what research tells us works best to help students learn. Here’s how one example might look:

Sample Completed Observation Organizer

Blank Observation Organizer (Word .docx)

Follow-Up Conversation

Questions to ask the Observed:

  • Initial conversation between the observer and the observed.
  • How do you think things went overall?
  • Was there something you felt went especially well?
  • Was there something that surprised you?
  • What worked or didn’t work: what made you think so, and why do you think that happened?
  • I noticed ____ and am curious what your experience of that was. . .

Reflective Summary

To make the observation useful and put the results into practice, we suggest that the observed compose a written reflective summary of the experience, responding to questions such as:

  • What was the most useful part of this experience for you?
  • What specific things got reinforced as effective during this process?
  • What specific changes do you envision as a result of this feedback?
  • Did you learn anything new about your students or how they learn?