Peer Teaching Observation Reviews (PTORs)

“When members of the faculty are evaluated for retention, tenure, promotion, or merit, reviews of the quality of their teaching effectiveness by peer faculty shall also be used by the Faculty Personnel Committee, in addition to the other materials described in parts 1, 2, and 3 above. These are called Peer Teaching Observation Reviews. Untenured members of the full-time faculty must have two Peer Teaching Observation Reviews added to their personnel file each academic year. Tenured members of the full-time faculty must have two added during each merit triennium.” (Faculty Handbook V.A.4)

While peer Teaching Observation Reviews (PTORs) will be used for summative evaluation of faculty, the quality and usefulness of these reviews can be enhanced when they are derived from a process that involves an informed, collaborative conversation between the observed colleague and the reviewer. This conversation typically employs informed evidence and its thoughtful analysis so that the subsequent reviews provide insightful information.

It is our hope that faculty members who are observed will receive feedback and insights from qualified colleagues who understand the complexities of college teaching and that reviewers will also benefit by gaining insights into their own teaching. This has the potential to lead to improved college teaching for both. In the end, however, please keep in mind that peer observations of teaching will be used to construct reviews that are to be employed by the Faculty Personnel Committee in summative personnel decision-making.

FPC is providing these best-practice guidelines for constructing a Peer Teaching Observation Review that is based on a thorough, collaborative analysis of a colleague’s teaching. Please see the Deadlines section at the bottom of this webpage for due dates

I. Selection of Reviewers

Candidates shall select their own peer observation reviewers with consideration given to mutual expertise, compatibility and relevant knowledge and skills. Only tenured faculty can serve as peer teaching observation reviewers. The selection of a peer observation reviewer is by mutual consent of the candidate and the reviewer. Candidates should not assume that a member of the faculty will serve as a reviewer until the reviewer gives her consent. Once a reviewer has agreed to participate in this process, the candidate should initiate the peer teaching observation review process by visiting the PTOR web page linked to below. 

  • Candidate PTOR Page - for initiating a PTOR once a reviewer is selected (please see the Deadlines section at the bottom of this webpage for due dates)

Once a PTOR is initiated, it cannot be cancelled except by appeal to the Faculty Personnel Committee. Please see the Deadlines section at the bottom of this webpage for due dates

II. Pre-Observation Exchange

During the pre-observation exchange, the candidate will share with the reviewer information to assist the reviewer in making an informed observation. The candidate and the reviewer will select the review observation instrument most appropriate for the instructional setting (lecture, discussion, lab, studio, or practice, see c below) and also discuss various issues related to the lesson to be observed. While it is not required that you complete each step in a and b below, research suggests that following these guidelines will result in significant benefits for both the observed and reviewer.

a. Review of Course Materials

Essential to the peer review of teaching are materials such as syllabi, sample presentations, course guides, reading lists, handouts, study guides, copies of graded examinations and papers, written teacher feedback, evidence of the design of new courses and course changes (reshaping), statements of what activities the faculty member has engaged in to improve his/her teaching, assignments, assessments, and any other relevant material used to construct a course. These documents can provide the observer with important contextual information regarding the faculty member’s teaching goals and pedagogical strategies for achieving these goals. Combining this review with evidence gathered through observations can help reviewers understand how the class they will observe relates to the overall course. We suggest that the candidate share relevant materials with the reviewer. 

b. Pre-Observation Conference

Prior to the peer observation, the faculty members (peer reviewer and observed candidate colleague) should meet to discuss the class to be observed. This discussion can help the reviewer focus on specific aspects identified by the observed. In addition to more general teaching strategies and student behaviors, discussion might focus on a range of topics, including:

  • content to be taught and how it relates to the overall course objectives and context,
  • faculty member’s pedagogical philosophy and typical teaching strategies and how they might be modified for this particular class,
  • typical student interaction patterns and amount of class participation,
  • concerns/issues with students in this class, and
  • specific goals/concerns/issues the observed faculty member would like the reviewer to focus on.

c. Selection of Review Observation Instrument

The review observation instrument is designed by mutual agreement between both parties. The most effective evaluations will result from a review observation instrument that considers several aspects of each category: classroom management, instructional technique, content, student engagement and interaction, and climate and rapport. The observed and reviewer can add aspects not found on the instrument template. There is no requirement to evaluate all entries on the review observation instrument. In fact, doing so may be counterproductive. Instead, the candidate and reviewer are intended to select a few items from each category. This selection constitutes the observation instrument

III. Observation

Using the mutually agreed-upon observation instrument, the reviewer will create a summary of what is observed during the class meeting. The reviewer should collect specific examples to support conclusions.

IV. Post-Observation Exchange

The post-observation conference is most effective if it occurs in a timely and thoughtful manner. It should provide feedback to the observed colleague so that the individual gains new insights into teaching, particularly regarding those specific issues that might have been puzzling or challenging. The process is most successful if the dialogue is characterized by professional collaboration, engagement, reflection, dialogue, discourse, and openness in order to arrive to a better understanding of teaching. Following are some suggested questions for this conversation:

  • How did you think the class went? What went particularly well? What didn’t go as well as you expected? What surprised you?
  • Did students accomplish the learning goals for this class?
  • What were some of the strengths the reviewer noted in this class?
  • What were some things the reviewer noticed that could be changed to lead to increased student learning?
  • What were the reviewer’s conclusions regarding the specific issue/concern for which the instructor requested feedback?

V. Written Report

The reviewer will provide a written report of the observation using the link in the email received when the candidate initiates the PTOR. If the reviewer loses that email, she may visit the web page below to complete the review. Please see the Deadlines section at the bottom of this webpage for due dates

The most effective report will provide evidence to support conclusions. It will be helpful to members of the Faculty Personnel Committee if the reviewer references the aspects of the review observation instrument that were utilized in the observation. 

Upon submission, the candidate will receive a copy of the written report. Please see the Deadlines section at the bottom of this webpage for due dates

VI. Response to Written Report

Once the reviewer submits the written report, the candidate will receive an email inviting her to read the report and, optionally, submit a response. response is confidential in that it is not seen by the reviewer. If submitted, the response becomes attached to the reviewer's response when displayed to members of the Faculty Personnel Committee. Please see the Deadlines section at the bottom of this webpage for due dates

Important Dates

Fall Courses, 2019 - 2020

  • Can initiate PTOR: August 21, 2019 
  • Review Submission Deadline: August 18, 2020
  • Response Submission Deadline: August 25, 2020

Spring Courses, 2019 - 2020

  • Can initiate PTOR: January 15, 2020 
  • Review Submission Deadline: August 18, 2020
  • Response Submission Deadline: August 25, 2020