What is it?
Traditionally, peer observations of teaching (PO) comprise part of a unit's peer evaluation of teaching which as per the faculty handbook, should be based both on classroom observations and review of course materials. While often thought of as one way to evaluate teaching for promotion and tenure, PO is generally a process whereby one educator observes a colleague teaching to facilitate reflection and discussion to aid the improvement of student learning (Bennet & Barp, 2008).
Why do it?
Peer observation of teaching is a means of enhancing the quality of teaching and learning and supporting effective faculty development in higher education. There are many benefits of successful peer observation of teaching:
- It helps to prevent pedagogical solitude by making teaching more visible and encouraging ongoing critical reflection and development among faculty about the quality of their teaching (Gosling, 2013).
- It fosters a community around the scholarship of teaching and learning through the diffusion of evidence-based practices (Lane, et al., 2020).
- It demonstrates to students a departmental commitment to effective teaching practices (Sullivan, et al., 2012).
- Feedback from peers provide qualitative evidence to substantiate student evaluations which generally focus on their levels of satisfaction rather than any deep perspectives on pedagogy (O'Keefe, et al., 2009).