• Benefits & Concerns

  • Benefits & Concerns


Here is a list of benefits of Peer Review of Teaching (PRT) gathered from the literature (e.g. Chism, 2007; Cutroni & Paladino, 2023; Kasztalska, 2021; Zeng, 2020):
  • Encourages continuous professional development

    Peer review of teaching is a valuable source of feedback through which teachers can gain insights into their own teaching practice, identify areas for improvement and enhance their pedagogical knowledge and instructional skills (e.g. communication skills, ability to manage learning activities). PRT is also beneficial to the reviewers as they may be exposed to new teaching approaches when observing others and may pick up good, successful practices along the way.
  • Provide evidence of teaching effectiveness

    Observation report/notes and personal reflection from formative PRT can form part of teachers’ documentation of their journey in teaching enhancement and innovation, which can be used to enhance their teaching portfolio and complement student evaluation of teaching.
  • Promote a culture of collegiality for improvement

    A robust system of PRT can help promote teaching as a collaborative process situated in a community of practice, where teachers can openly discuss about teaching, exchange ideas, learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and work together to improve their teaching practices.
  • Promote better understanding of teaching excellence within disciplinary context

    Although we can easily obtain a general list of characteristics of a good teacher or effective teaching from the literature, they may be understood and displayed differently in different disciplinary context. Dialogue among teachers, which is an integral part of PRT, can help to clarify the definition of teaching excellence within a discipline.
  • Quality assurance

    PRT can be used to ensure accountability by providing documentation that course objectives are attained, and instructional standards are maintained. In some cases, feedback from PRT can facilitate the review of instructional approaches, learning activities, and assessment methods within a curriculum, informing decision making on curriculum reform or enhancement.

Common Concerns

Here are some common concerns about Peer Review of Teaching (PRT) gathered from the literature (e.g. Chism, 2007; Cutroni & Paladino, 2023; Kasztalska, 2021):
  • Fairness

    Some teachers are concerned that the reviewer’s evaluation of their teaching may be influenced by personal preferences and biases. They worry that reviewers may hold preconceptions about race, gender, religious affiliations, etc. that could lead to an unfavourable assessment of their teaching.
  • Fear and discomfort

    Some teachers may fear criticism and feel anxious about being evaluated, while some may regard teaching as a personal activity, and feel uncomfortable sharing with others.

    In the case of summative Peer Review of Teaching (PRT) where a colleague’s career advancement is on the line, some faculty members may hesitate to act as peer reviewers due to concerns about confidentiality. Particularly when they have a close relationship with their colleagues, they may feel uncomfortable evaluating them and worry that their review could negatively affect their working relationship.

  • Distrust

    Some teachers may not trust the process of PRT. They question the ability of one-off summative PRT in capturing the continuous nature of teaching.
  • Burden

    Reviewers may see PRT as extra work, especially for teachers with heavy teaching loads.
The above concerns must be taken seriously and some of them can be addressed by the good practices in PRT identified in the literature, and presented in the following section.

Good Practices

This section highlights some good practices in peer review of teaching identified by Kasztalska (2021) from Boston University and how they can help to address the common concerns presented above.
  • Transparency

    PRT procedures and instruments should be transparent, so that all stakeholders can become familiar with them. The motives and pedagogical principles behind PRT should also be shared with stakeholders so that they can understand the benefits and importance of incorporating this practice into the teaching evaluation process, and recognize that it is grounded in professional standards that are developed to promote professional growth. Ideally, the PRT procedures and observational instruments should be developed and improved with input from all stakeholders. This collaborative approach is essential for gaining faculty support and fostering their trust and confidence in the practices of PRT.
  • Training

    Generally, training can help to ensure consistency and fairness in the PRT process. Training should be provided for both reviewers and reviewees to inform them about the procedures and instruments used in PRT. Reviewees need to know what to expect and be aware of the assessment criteria, while reviewers need to understand their role and should be trained in conducting class observation and providing feedback.

    Reviewers need to learn how to provide constructive feedback which is actionable and fosters improvement. Collegiality also need to be emphasized during training to ensure that the PRT process remains respectful and supportive. While there are some exceptions to the principle of confidentiality in summative PRT, confidentiality should still be emphasized during training to help create a safe and trusting environment where teachers can openly discuss their teaching practices and receive honest feedback.

  • Regular review

    PRT procedures and instruments should be developed with care and reviewed regularly to ensure that they are appropriate and useful for all stakeholders. Monitoring and appraisal of PRT can be carried out by an internal faculty committee or in consultation with external experts to ensure continuous improvement in the PRT process.
  • Culture of collaboration

    In the peer review process, teachers work together to provide feedback and suggestions with an aim to improve teaching practices and student learning outcomes. Collaboration among teachers can foster a supportive and constructive environment that encourages ongoing improvement and professional growth. It can also promote the sharing of best practices, innovative teaching techniques, and effective assessment strategies.
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