In 2021 the Washington College faculty added a peer observation component to the tenure and promotion review process. Working with their chairs, tenure and promotion candidates will identify at least one department member (other than the chair) and one colleague from outside the department to conduct formative peer observation during the course of the review period.
The working group that developed this proposal believed that this change would formalize a productive practice that has emerged among faculty, asking if not expecting colleagues who will contribute letters to visit a class. They developed a peer observation form, recommended but not required, that provides guidelines for formative feedback rather than summative assessment. The intent is not to grade our peers but rather to help us, both the instructors and the observers, reflect upon our teaching.
Beyond the tenure and promotion review process, engaging in peer observations can be helpful, enlightening, and enjoyable. One way to pursue more informal use of peer observation would be to join or create a small feedback group, organized around some shared ideas, issues, or strategies. Please get in touch with Cromwell CTL if you’d like to organize a Cromwell Teaching POD (peer observation and development). For further guidance on using peer observation to generate formative feedback, read our post on Formative Feedback and Peer Observation.
For some useful and brief reading about Peer Observation guidelines, we recommend starting with this overview from Northeastern’s Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research.
For further reading and resources on peer observations: