March 13, 2018

Isabeau Iqbal talks about peer review of teaching

Isabeau Iqbal heads the Formative Peer Review of Teaching Program at the University of British Columbia.

How can instructors gain insights on their teaching practices beyond what is captured in student course evaluations?

One option is peer review of teaching. At its most basic, peer review of teaching refers to a process in which an instructor observes a colleague’s classroom to give feedback on what he or she feels is and isn’t working. Whether the goal is improving pedagogical practice or informing a tenure and promotion process, this approach can provide a key, and often missing, teaching evaluation perspective.

Watch the presentation video (YouTube)
Download the presentation handout (PDF)
View photos from the post-presentation reception

On March 9, 2018, SFU’s Teaching Assessment Working Group (TAWG) invited Isabeau Iqbal, leader of the Formative Peer Review of Teaching Program at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, to deliver a presentation on the challenges, benefits and guiding principles for implementing a peer review process for instructors.

While taking care to differentiate between formative and summative approaches, Iqbal noted that such peer review can offer multiple gains, including improving instructor teaching, enhancing the data richness of tenure and promotion processes, strengthening the university teaching culture, and increasing collegiality among instructors: “Teaching takes place behind closed doors. Peer evaluation is about opening up those doors to make it more collaborative.”

However, Iqbal also cautioned that these benefits can only be won if the process is pursued in a way that recognizes its complexity and messiness: “Questions of power, trust and relationship are fundamental to the peer review of teaching.”

Coming up next

Isabeau Iqbal’s presentation was part of the TAWG speaker series, “Valuing Teaching: Challenges and Strategies to Value Effective Teaching.” The next presentation in the series will take place on April 26, 2018. Guest speaker Philip B. Stark (University of California at Berkeley) will address the shortcomings of student evaluations in a talk titled “Student Evaluations of Teaching (Mostly) Do Not Measure Teaching Effectiveness.” Find out more about the event and register

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