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Peer Review of Teaching

Peer review of teaching is a method of assessing the quality and effectiveness of a faculty member’s teaching practices on rounds, in the classroom, simulation center, clinic, operating room, lab, during journal club, grand rounds or anywhere else that teaching occurs.

As the name suggests, a colleague (another faculty or staff member at IU) reviews materials and/or observes you teaching and then provides you a written summary of their observation. This written summary can be used for promotion and tenure, awards, honor societies or simply with the goal of increasing teaching effectiveness. 

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Resources for peer reviewers

  • Why does IU encourage peer review of teaching? 

    Like peer review of scholarship, peer review of teaching encourages faculty to have scholarly conversations about effective teaching. It contributes to an environment where faculty can feel comfortable trying new approaches and getting feedback for improvement purposes. 

  • Why not just rely on learner feedback (i.e. student evaluations or learner ratings of instruction) to assess faculty?  

    Learner evaluations are an important part of curriculum improvement and faculty feedback in medical education. However, learners are not always the best evaluators since they often have limited training, can have biases against faculty unrelated to teaching quality, and may be unfamiliar with overall curricular goals and values.

    Much medical education literature and many professional societies caution institutions against using learner ratings of instruction as the only or best method of evaluating teaching effectiveness. Therefore, IU encourages faculty to provide multiple forms of data to indicate teaching effectiveness in the promotion and tenure process.

  • How many peer reviews of teaching are required for promotion and/or tenure at IU? 

    More than one over the course of the promotion period. Per the IU Indianapolis Promotion and Tenure Guidelines, “[p]eer review of classroom instruction is most effective when it is based on multiple visits to classes and examination of materials; isolated observations are rarely helpful” (p. 37).

  • Who can conduct a peer review of teaching? 

    Any faculty member at IU can conduct a peer review of teaching. However, since this could be burdensome, FAPD conducts training for and can facilitate the scheduling of a peer review when no department rep is available.

    Per the IU Indianapolis Promotion and Tenure Guidelines, “[r]eview of teaching is a formative activity to facilitate improvement and skill development in teaching. Rank requirements such as those used for external evaluators are not applied to the formative teaching review processes.

    Local disciplinary peers can provide essential information and assessment based on observation of the classroom, studio, laboratory, or other learning environments, including those based on technology.

    Additionally, local peers outside the discipline can provide an additional perspective of excellence in teaching, including practices in the classroom, teaching materials, and the scholarship of teaching and learning” (p. 37).

  • Can FAPD help me schedule a peer review?

    Yes! FAPD keeps a list of trained peer reviewers for providing formative feedback on teaching quality and for the promotion and tenure process. 

    Request a peer review.

  • What should a peer review of teaching include? 

    According to the literature on peer review, a high-quality peer review of teaching includes the following steps:

    1. Pre-review meeting between the reviewer and reviewee to set goals and agree upon the type of feedback required. 
    2. A review of materials including learning goals and objectives, lecture notes, activities, presentations, syllabi, assignments, and learner work. 
    3. An observation of an actual teaching encounter and/or a review of recorded instruction.
    4. A post-review meeting between the reviewer and the reviewee to discuss the observation and create an action plan.
    5. A written summary of the review provided to the reviewee

    FAPD strongly recommends that the written summary become the property of the reviewee. We will never ask anyone except for the reviewee themselves for a copy of the written summary as a way to encourage a trusting, supportive relationship between reviewers and reviewees.

  • Where can I find IU’s standard form for peer review of teaching? 

    IU does not have a standard form, but IU School of Medicine Faculty Affairs and Professional Development offers a template that you can tailor to your needs.

    We believe that, just as there are many good ways to teach, there are many good ways to evaluate teaching. As such, we offer a peer review of teaching form template. This template includes a collection of quality teaching domains and items within each domain that could be selected by the reviewer and the reviewee based on the reviewee’s teaching goals and purpose of the peer review. We recommend that the reviewer and the reviewee discuss goals for the review, then customize the form template to best meet the situation.

    In addition to the general form, we offer specific forms for peer reviews in clinical settings and research settings.

  • What else do I need to submit with a peer review of teaching for promotion and tenure? 

    More important than your peer reviews, IU requires you to include a teaching statement in your dossier, summarizing and reflecting on your submitted teaching materials. This statement should include information about how you used your peer reviews of teaching (and other feedback like learner ratings of instruction) to improve upon your teaching practices. More details about the requirements of the teaching section of the dossier are in the IU Indianapolis Promotion and Tenure Guidelines.

  • Can any faculty or staff member conduct a peer review? 

    Although there is no rank requirement for the reviewer per the IU Indianapolis Promotion and Tenure Guidelines, we recommend you choose a reviewer who best suits your goals for participating in the peer review process. That person can be 1) a faculty colleague from your department, 2) a faculty colleague from outside your department, 3) someone from the FAPD list of reviewers, or 4) a staff member from the IU Indianapolis Center for Teaching and Learning or your local campus teaching and learner center.

  • Does FAPD provide training for peer reviewers?

    Yes, FAPD conducts quarterly training for faculty interested in serving as peer reviewers. During this session, our team provides future reviewers with helpful materials and support to ensure the peer review process is supportive, rigorous, and consistent. In addition to the quarterly training sessions, departments can request a workshop to help departments and faculty increase their capacity to conduct high-quality peer review teaching across the institution.

  • How can I sign up to become a trained peer reviewer? 

    All participants who have completed the quarterly peer review training session are invited to become a part of the FAPD team of peer reviewers.

    Those reviewers who complete two or more peer reviews of teaching per year receive a letter from the dean for their own promotion materials and special invitations to teaching events and programs. 

  • As a trained reviewer, do I need to conduct peer reviews in all teaching settings?

    No. The training is not specific to any one teaching and learning environment, so reviewers may choose the environments in which they feel qualified. FAPD maintains the list of reviewers and their qualified areas to ensure appropriate matches with reviewees.