Peer Review of Teaching

Peer Review of Teaching

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Peer review of teaching at the University of Oregon is a faculty peer's written assessment of how an instructor enacts professional, inclusive, engaged, and research-informed teaching (and other unit standards that are part of the unit’s Teaching Evaluation Rubric) based on, for example, a class observation, contextual materials like the syllabus and Canvas site, a conversation between the instructor and the reviewer, and an instructor’s answer to standard questions devised by the unit. 

Each unit is responsible for establishing the process used for peer reviews of teaching in the unit. Contact your unit head to learn about peer review in your department, including the criteria reviewers look for, the sources of evidence they gather to inform the review, the forms to be used in carrying out the review, and more.

A peer review typically focuses on the reviewee's teaching practice in a single course, so materials gathered should generally relate to that course, and the reviewer's comments should also be drawn only from evidence from that course. The exception to this is the engaged teaching category; reviews typically take a broader view of the the reviewee's engaged teaching practice than would be gained by focusing on a single course.

On this page we:

  • List several processes and sources of evidence that units might include in their peer reviews,
  • Provide suggestions on how to implement them, and
  • Specify examples of professional, inclusive, and research-informed practices a reviewer might find in each source and cite in the review.

Pre-review communication and the Instructor Questions form

Before the review begins, the reviewer and reviewee should communicate to:

  • Share materials that will be used in the review;
  • Determine a window during which the reviewer will have access to the reviewee's Canvas course site, if applicable;
  • Set dates for a class observation and a meeting to discuss the review report.

You'll also want to talk about:

  • The content and goals for the class session that will be reviewed,
  • Particular practices the instructor uses and wants to highlight,
  • Key aspects of their teaching they've been developing, perhaps things identified in a previous review.

In most cases, the unit's peer review policy will have established a timeline for this communication, and might have a set of questions for the reviewee to answer to help the reviewer understand the context of the course. TEP offers the Instructor Questions form to provide a framework for this communication, and some units have adopted or adapted it for their use. It can provide direct information about the professional and engaged aspects of an instructor's teaching practice, and may draw attention to other PIERs practices the reviewer might see in other materials.


Question 8 on the Instructor Questions form asks "Do you engage in respectful and timely communication with your students? Explain how (give at least 2 examples)." This question directly addresses the second condition in the professional teaching standard: Respectful and timely communication with students. Respectful teaching does not mean that the professor cannot give appropriate critical feedback.


Evidence for engaged teaching can be found in Questions 9, "Are there aspects of your teaching – perhaps those identified in your last peer review – that you have been working on and would like the reviewer to pay particular attention to? If yes, please describe." and 10, "What led you to focus on the areas mentioned in #9, and what influenced the choices and changes you have made in these areas?"


UO Teaching Practices Inventory

The UO Teaching Practices Inventory presents lists of different practices that fall into the professional, inclusive, engaged, and research-informed categories, and asks the instructor taking it to identify practices they currently use, ones that they aspire to use, ones that are less relevant to their course, and ones they need for information about. They have the option of skipping practices if they do not use or plan to use them.

If your unit elects to use the UOTPI as a source of evidence in peer review, reviewers can use it to glean ideas for professional, inclusive, and research-informed practices to look for in other sources of evidence collected for the review. In addition, the UOTPI can serve as a source of information about the instructor’s engaged teaching practice.


The syllabus can provide evidence of a variety of professional, inclusive, and research-informed teaching practices. Below are some examples of practices you might look for in the syllabus. Note that this list is not exhaustive and is only meant to give ideas for things to look for.

  • The syllabus should establish workload, state learning objectives, outline the grading system, and specify class policy expectations.
  • The instructor might also include contact details, information about how they’d like to be addressed, guidance about why and how to use office hours or otherwise access their support.
  • Include a syllabus statement that encourages students with disabilities to share any access-related needs early and to contact the Accessible Education Center as a source of support. Ensure all course policies and information about student support are up to date.
  • Offer guidance on how to engage with the course, e.g. give strategies for reading course texts, or point out weeks projected to have high workloads and how they might manage that.
  • The course materials might be free or low cost.
  • Written in a welcoming and encouraging tone; uses “we” language that presents the class as a community of scholars of which the instructor is a member.
  • Syllabus is available in forms accessible to all students.
  • Course content reflects the diversity of the field’s practitioners, the contested and evolving status of knowledge, the value of academic questions beyond the academy and of lived experience as evidence, and other efforts to help students see themselves in the work of the course.
  • Communicates clear expectations for the course and course components.
  • The course includes or draws on recent research in the discipline.
  • Course includes activities to develop students’ skills in search and reading the research literature, and/or developing and carrying out research projects.
  • Assignments and assessments include low-stakes opportunities to develop knowledge and skills.
  • Course activities are designed to promote efficient learning strategies.
  • Course content is aligned with states course learning objectives.


Canvas course site

We recommend that the instructor being reviewed add the peer reviewer to the Canvas course site as a Teaching Assistant for a limited, specified period of time. (If you have questions about adding a user to your Canvas course, see this Canvas guidance or call 541-346-1942). Peer reviewers are expected to respect the Student Records Privacy Policy for Faculty and Staff. 

Below are some examples of professional, inclusive, and research-informed practices you might notice in the Canvas course site. Note that this list is not exhaustive and is only meant to give ideas for things to look for.

  • Site has a clear organization and is easy to navigate, perhaps through use of modules or pages associated with course units, weeks, or class days. These modules or pages include the unit’s learning objectives, activities to complete, and content to engage.
  • Site has guidance on how to engage fruitfully with the course.
  • Assignments’ purpose, task, and criteria for success are transparent.
  • Assignments and activities are broken into steps to provide a scaffold for student progress.
  • Course content reflects the diversity of the field’s practitioners, the contested and evolving status of knowledge, the value of academic questions beyond the academy and of lived experience as evidence, and other efforts to help students see themselves in the work of the course.
  • Assignments and/or module overviews connect content to students’ prior knowledge or experience; current events, real-world phenomena, or other disciplines; or to prior class lessons, assignments, or readings.
  • Materials use photos, examples, and other representations that reflect diverse social identities and experiences.
  • Materials are formatted accessibly using headings, readable fonts, and alt-text. Readings are text-based files, not image-based files.
  • Videos and audio clips include captions or transcripts.
  • Course content and activities are aligned with relevant learning objectives.
  • Assignments and activities are designed to actively engage students rather than have them simply read, watch, or listen.
  • The course incorporates low- or no-stakes opportunities to develop and practice applying knowledge and skills.
  • Feedback on assignments and activities is timely, actionable, and goal-oriented.
  • Assignments and activities engage students in discussions about disciplinary research results and practices.Assignments and activities engage students in disciplinary research.

Class observation

Before the observation of a class (if synchronous) or Canvas course (if fully online), peer reviewers should:

  • Familiarize yourself with the observation instrument you'll be using.
  • Get a sense of some practices you might look for during class by looking at the UO Teaching Practices Inventory and from the communication you have had with the instructor, including the Instructor Questions form if you used it.

The procedure to follow during and immediately after the observation depends on the unit's policy. If your unit has adopted a particular observation instrument, follow the directions for using it during the class. Some are designed to be filled in during the class session. Others are used more to guide the eye during the class and then completed afterward. In the latter case, we recommend following the procedure below during the class.

  • Perform a “fact-based” observation during class: record everything the instructor and students do, examples used, etc. while keeping the observation instrument beside you to remind you what to look for. In synchronous classes, it helps to keep track of the time while recording activities. You might find it helpful to use TEP's Class Observation Organizer during your class visit.
  • Soon after the class, fill out your observation instrument, adding comments and notes to give a more complete picture of the class session (if synchronous) or observed modules (if fully online).