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CTL: Center for Teaching and Learning

Informal Peer Observation

Written by Rachel Jameton


Informal peer observations offer an opportunity for you to reflect on your teaching practice in a supportive environment.

Informal peer observations have three parts:

  • An initial conversation to identify the question that you are interested in having an observer help you answer,
  • The observation,
  • A follow-up guided reflection with an emphasis on next steps.

Classrooms that are observed can be on campus, online, or in the community.

Peer observations by the TLC are unrelated to the promotion and tenure process but reflections can be part of portfolios. They are confidential, flexible, based on observation, and positive and growth-minded.

Examples of questions that an observer could offer support in answering (it is typical to decide on one in the initial conversation):

  • Am I achieving a specific course outcome?
  • Are my students engaged?
  • Am I treating my students equitably?
  • How are my students feeling about the class at midterm?
  • How does my use of a newly adopted technology support my teaching practice?
  • How do I interpret SCEs and address them in a future class?

Ethical considerations:

All discussion and observations are confidential and only used for the purpose of enhancing teaching by the observee.

Observations can only be requested by the observee and only the observee will receive feedback about the observation.

If requested, the CTL will provide a letter of confirmation that an observation has been done to the observee, but we will not provide written details of an observation.

In general, the CTLC follows the ethical guidelines for educational developers described here: http://podnetwork.org/about-us/pod-governance/ethical-guidelines/ 

A note on informal peer observation:

You may be accustomed to a formal observation in which you are evaluated. Informal peer observation is a different process in which no judgement is made. Instead, the emphasis is on reflecting on an aspect of your teaching practice that you would like feedback on.

Your peer observer has the responsibility to respect your process and recognize that you are the expert in your classroom. We promise to honor your practice and personal growth as a teacher. You do not have to agree with all or anything your observer says.

As the observee, we ask that you do not ask for evaluation, but focus on answering a question about your teaching practice. Please listen to your observer’s feedback. We know that this can be uncomfortable. We also hope that the attention to your teaching is worth the short term discomfort.

Faculty Peer Observers

The Peer Observation program is run by Teresa Carmack. 

Peer observers have background and practice in the process. If you would like to become a peer observer, please contact the CTL.

Lauren Connolly

Samantha Franklin

Sarah Graham                   Rachel Jameton

Jenni Light                          Gwen Sullivan

Angela Wartel

More information