Peer Review of Teaching

Professor speaks to his class in language lab, CAS
Professor Scott Hartley, wearing protective glasses, talks with students in the lab, CAS

This website is designed to provide faculty and departments with insights on performing effective peer review of teaching.  It was developed in October 2017 by members of a Faculty Learning Community: Darrel Davis, Educational Psychology; Rose Marie Ward, Kinesiology and Health; Kevin Bush, Family Science and Social Work; Ying-Ju Tessa Chen, Information Systems & Analytics; Theresa Evans, English; Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy, Global and Intercultural Studies; Eric Resnis, University Libraries; Andrew Saultz, Educational Leadership; Jennifer Quinn, Psychology; and Robert Weinberg, Kinesiology and Health.

What is Peer Review of Teaching

When done well, peer review of teaching provides insight into the classroom in a safe and supportive way with a focus on the improvement of instruction and learning. In short, it is informed critique of instruction to foster professional improvement.

Literature on Peer Review of Teaching

Peer review of teaching (also known as colleague evaluations or use of expert educators) is the process of assessing the instruction and instructional methods of an instructor (Chism, 2007). Most commonly, it refers to classroom observation. However, all aspects of the classroom experience (e.g., classroom management system, assignment prompts, syllabus, grading rubrics, feedback to students on assignments) can be part of the review. Peer review of teaching has three primary purposes:

  1. Improving the instruction and learning in the classroom;
  2. Evaluation of the instructor; and
  3. Recognition of exceptional teaching practices (Bernstein, 2008).

There are two forms of peer review. Formative review has the goal of improving teaching and learning through mentorship and development (Bell, 2002). Summative review is primarily used to evaluate the teaching and learning for personnel decisions. The literature suggests that both formative and summative reviews should be part of a teaching evaluation system (Roe et al., 1986; Cashin, 1996; Cosser, 1998). Overwhelmingly, the literature calls for clear expectations for the review whether it is formative or summative. In addition, several disciplines stress that these reviews should be used for professional growth and learning (e.g., Brown & Crumpler, 2013).

A major barrier to effective peer reviews of teaching is the willingness of the peer reviewer. Research indicates that four perceptions impact the willingness of faculty to conduct peer reviews.  These are perceptions of:

  1. benefits of the program;
  2. need for teaching support;
  3. downsides of the program;
  4. career implications (White et al., 2014).

Moreover, faculty with more teaching experience are more willing to serve as peer reviewers (White et al., 2013). However, collaborative peer review (i.e., when two faculty review and observe each other) might benefit faculty at all levels (Goslin, 2013).


Bell, M. (2001). Supported Reflective Practice: A Programme of Peer Observation and Feedback for Academic Teaching DevelopmentInternational Journal for Academic Development, 62939.

Brown, I. and T. Crumpler. (2013, Dec. – Jan.).  “Assessment of Foreign Language Teachers: A Model for Shifting Evaluation toward Growth and Learning.” High School Journal, v96 n2, 138-151.

Cashin, W.E. (1996), “Developing an Effective Faculty Evaluation System,” IDEA paper 33, Kansas State University, storage_01/0000019b/80/14/87/da.pdf.

Chism, N.V. (2007). Peer Review of Teaching: A Sourcebook (2nd ed.). Bolton, MA: Anker Publications.

Cosser, M. (1998). “Towards the Design of a System of Peer Review of Teaching for the Advancement of the Individual Within the University,” Higher Education, 35, 143-62.

Roe, E., McDonald, R. & Moses, I. (1986). Reviewing Academic Performance: Approaches to the Evaluation of Departments and Individuals. Scholars’ Library, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia.

White, K., Boehm, E., & Chester, A. (2014). “Predicting Academics’ Willingness to Participate in Peer Review of Teaching: A Quantitative Investigation.” Higher Education Research & Development, 33, 372–385.