Faculty Peer Evaluation of Teaching

Validated, reliable instruments exist for peer-based evaluation of an instructor’s efficacy with student-centered, active-learning teaching approaches. Most are intended for use by trained observers, as is the case with the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP; Sawada, Piburn, Judson, Turley, Falconer, Benford, and Bloom, Measuring reform practices in science and mathematics classrooms: the reformed teaching observation protocol. School Science and Mathematics 102 (6): 245-253, 2002).  RTOP is described at the Science Education Resource Center, SERC.  To judge an instructor’s teaching against the standards of a student-centered, inquiry-rich approach, RTOP relies on an instrument of 25 numerically scored items that segregate into five scales: 1) lesson design and implementation; 2) propositional knowledge; 3) procedural knowledge; 4) student-student interaction; and 5) student-teacher interaction. A training manual is available <http://physicsed.buffalostate.edu/AZTEC/rtop/RTOP_full/PDF/RTOP_ref_man_IN003.pdf>.

 Other evaluative strategies include the following:

 Harris and Cox (2003) Developing an observation system to capture instructional differences in engineering classrooms.  Journal of Engineering Education 92 (4): 329-336.

 Turpen and Finkelstein (2009) Not all interactive engagement is the same: Variations in physics professors’ implementation of Peer Instruction.  Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research 5 (2): 020101-1—020101-18.  N.B. Supplemental material includes observation rubric and user’s guide.

 Van Amburgh, JA, JW Devlin, JL Kirwin, and DM Qualters (2007) A tool for measuring active learning in the classroom. Am. J. of Pharmaceutical Education 71 (5): article 85

 One importance of RTOP and other evaluative strategies lies in their providing feedback to instructors trying to implement learner-centered approaches in the classroom.  This feedback can correct misalignment between actual classroom practices and instructors’ perceptions of these practices (Ebert-May, Derting, Hodder, Momsen, Long, and Jardeleza, What we say is not what we do: effective evaluation of faculty professional development programs. Bioscience 61 (7): 550-558, 2011).

 Meaningful feedback need not come exclusively from trained, expert observers.  For example, in a co-teaching situation, the coaching offered to a beginning instructor by one experienced with student-centered approaches was shown to prompt successful implementation of the approaches by the novice, as well as shifts in the novice’s beliefs about the practices (Henderson, Beach, and Famiano, Promoting instructional change via co-teaching.  Am. Journal of Physics 77 (3): 274-283, 2009).



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