In Botany at UBC, formative and summative peer reviews of teaching follow the steps outlined below. Our goal is to give and receive feedback in order to create a collegial community of effective Biology instructors.
1. Committee Formation
A new faculty member will consult with the department head/teaching committee chair by the middle of the first year of appointment and jointly agree on who the peer evaluation committee should be. The department head will appoint three of these colleagues to form a peer evaluation committee and designate one of its members to serve as chairperson. Each assistant professor or new instructor is reviewed once or twice (formative), and reviewed twice (summative) before any tenure or promotion decision.
2. Initial meeting
The chair of the teaching committee will set up a meeting to outline the procedures to be followed in the review. This should be done before the middle of the teaching term, in order to allow enough time for discussion and classroom observation. At the initial meeting, instructors will provide course materials, including schedules, syllabi and lab manuals (where applicable). This meeting is the opportunity for the instructor to discuss their instructional goals, identifying strengths, concerns, special considerations relevant to the course, and areas that the instructor would like to improve. At this meeting, the peer evaluation committee will review all relevant course materials and set up a strategy for classroom visits.
3. Classroom visits
The peer evaluation committee will observe at least 3 classes. In the case where more than one course is being taught, the committee will visit each course at least twice. In the case where laboratory instruction or design is a component of the instructor’s teaching, at least one visit will be to the lab.
After one class in each course, members of the committee will interview the class as a group for no more than 10 minutes, without the instructor present. In the case of lab faculty, the interview will take place in the lab. The committee member conducting the interview will state that the committee is interested in the students’ views of the instructor and the course, and that no student names will be recorded.
The committee will interview the students as a group using prompt questions such as:
1) “How does this instructor help you to learn?”
2) “Are there areas in which you would suggest improvement?”
The interview is to be conducted in an open-ended spirit. After the classroom visits, the committee or a subset of the committee meets with the instructor to provide informal feedback.
4. Graduate students
The committee will conduct a confidential interview with the graduate students of the instructor being evaluated. The point of the interview is to determine the quality of instruction and support being provided. In the case of appointment to Senior Instructor, if laboratory instruction is the primary responsibility, the committee will interview the TAs involved in the lab and/or directed studies students
5. The report
The committee will prepare a draft of the report. The goal of the report is to document the instructor’s strengths and challenges with specific observations from the classroom visits and student interviews, graduate student comments and the Faculty of Science student evaluation of teaching. The committee will send a draft copy of the report to the instructor, with a request to review it and to send comments to the committee by a certain date. If the instructor submits comments, then the committee will consider the comments. If the committee agrees with the comments, then the report is modified to reflect them. If the committee does not agree with the comments, the instructor’s comments are included as an addendum to the report.