Peer Evaluation of Instruction

UCLA takes great pride in the quality of its teaching.  One practice that contributes to this excellence is peer evaluation of instruction. Appendix 3 of The CALL states that peer evaluation of teaching is “required in all cases of formal review for merit advancement or promotion."  Fittingly for the diversity of academic programs at UCLA, The CALL does not prescribe a standard regimen for peer evaluation. 

 Below is a sampling of peer evaluation procedures from departments across campus, including examples of evaluation forms and notices soliciting faculty assistance in the evaluation of their colleagues.  These promising practices are offered here to assist any department that’s re-evaluating their own processes for peer evaluation of instruction.

Community Health Sciences

History

Math

Medicine

Physics and Astronomy

Political Science (pdf)

Slavic Languages & Literatures

Peer Evaluation Form - Anesthesiology (pdf)

Peer Evaluation Form - Dentistry (pdf)

Request for Peer Evaluators - Law

Request for Peer Evaluators - Urban Planning

Community Health Sciences

1. Peer Advisory Committee

Two consecutive names will be chosen as peer reviewers in sequence from the master list of Line and In-Residence departmental faculty at all ranks.  The faculty member under review has the right to reject one peer reviewer. In that case, the next person on the list will be selected. The list will include all faculty who teach at least one full course per year in CHS.   Conducting these reviews is required for Line and In-Residence series faculty; Adjunct faculty will be invited to conduct reviews.  The Chair and Vice Chair are excluded from this list.  Faculty on sabbatical or official leave at the time of the evaluation are exempt from doing reviews, but will be put at the top of the list if their turn passes while they are on leave.  Adjunct faculty will make up, at most, one of the members of the Peer Advisory Committee.

 

2. Role of Peer Advisory Committee

  1. The Committee will be responsible for (i) meeting with the faculty member to develop a plan for the review, (ii) gathering data on the faculty member’s teaching effectiveness, including advising, and (iii) submitting a written summary of their findings. These materials will be placed in the faculty member’s personnel file.
  2. The report will be given to the faculty member under review before being placed in the file, and the committee can amend the report in response to comments from the faculty member.  The faculty member has the prerogative of attaching a statement to the final report.
  3. Peer advisors should be available to provide informal counseling to assistant professors concerning teaching effectiveness. (This could include, but is not limited to, suggesting the use of University faculty teaching development services if needed.)   The committee’s role should be seen as supportive, with the peers providing the guidance and information needed to improve the faculty member’s teaching performance.

 3. Data on Teaching

 The report will include the following:

a) A summary of the numeric and narrative evaluations by students from the faculty member’s courses, and comparison of means with those of other Department courses.

b) Copies of selected syllabi.  The syllabi review will focus primarily on the overall quality and appropriateness of readings and other course materials.

c) Evaluation of any web sites that are used by the faculty member in teaching courses. Particular attention should be paid to the coordination of the web site with the syllabus.

d) Comments on observed classroom teaching, based on one to three classes given by the faculty member.   These can be regular class session(s) or guest lecture(s) given by the faculty member.  Advance consultation with the faculty member is appropriate.

 If appropriate, the following may be included:

e) A listing of awards, fellowships, publications, presentations at professional meetings, or merit- based recognition of students, where faculty mentorship and teaching contributed to the student’s ability to obtain the recognition.

f) A summary of comments from other faculty (obtained either in writing or orally) regarding the faculty member’s classroom performance or the teaching effectiveness of the faculty member in settings other than scheduled classes. This could include presentations at professional meetings, public lectures, media appearances, and other community service-connected activities.

 

4. Student Advising

a) As part of the report, peer reviewers should assess the quantity and quality of advising done by the faculty member for both masters and doctoral students.

b) To the extent that this information is available from the department or the  faculty member, the report should provide information about the success of the faculty member’s current and former doctoral students.  This could include but is not limited to: (i) whether students on the whole make satisfactory progress (e.g., completion of course work, completion of the departmental major exam, advancement to candidacy, graduation), (ii) whether students generally complete the degree, and do so in a timely manner, and (iii) what types of positions are held by former students.

c) It also is appropriate to include the extent to which the faculty member is instrumental in enabling students to obtain funding and acquire research experience, including publications.

d) Although letters from current and former students usually are solicited by the department chair only at the time of major personnel actions, such letters may be requested when necessary for the review.

 

5. Timing of Review

Assistant Professors

A written report will be produced by the committee at the end of the second year and every other year thereafter.

Associate Professors

The same process will be used for associate professors, except that the peer advisory committee will not be formed until two years before normal advancement to full professor.  The review will take place at that time.  For associate professors, increased emphasis should be placed on obtaining evaluations from students concerning doctoral advising.

Full Professors

The same process will be used for full professors, to occur once every five years after the associate professor review.

 

 Addendum (Approved Unanimously: 5/02/05) (Effective Date: 5/02/05)

 

6. Review of Part-Time Faculty

 The Curriculum and Teaching Committee will be directly responsible for the review of part-time faculty (all titles other than ladder faculty). This review will be limited to a description of courses taught during the period under review, syllabi, and course evaluations. Classroom observation will occur only when review of these materials indicate that it is necessary. One member of the committee will prepare the written report for review by the full committee.

a.   Reviews will occur on the same schedule as ladder faculty; i.e., according to rank.

b.   Faculty whose role is limited to guest lecturer will not be reviewed.

c.    Faculty with joint appointments who have waived voting privileges in CHS will not be reviewed for the duration of the waiver.

d.   Faculty who are not currently teaching (i.e., during the period under review) will not be reviewed.

 

History

A peer review of teaching is a part of each merit and promotion file in the History Department.  Each peer evaluation is based on a classroom visit by a colleague. According to the Department's bylaws,

"VI. 6. Teaching Evaluation: … In addition to examining course evaluations and student letters, the review committee shall base its assessment of the candidate’s teaching on any available peer evaluation conducted by the Department."

Peer evaluations are provided by a departmental Teaching Committee: "IV. 8. The Teaching Committee oversees regular peer evaluations of faculty teaching…. Committee composition: The Chair shall appoint at least three faculty members for one-year terms."

Procedure:

  1. For each faculty member putting themselves forward for merit or promotion, the Academic Personnel Coordinator determines whether or not there is a recent peer review in the file. If not…
  2. The Academic Personnel Coordinator advises the chair of the Teaching Committee on the colleagues for whom peer teaching evaluations are needed.
  3. The Teaching Committee arranges for one of its members to visit the colleague's class, trying insofar as possible to match Committee members' specialties to those of the candidate.
  4. The Committee member assigned to visit a candidate's class contacts that colleague to agree on which class time to be visited, in order to ensure that the session will be as typical as possible, with no rescheduling or unusual one-time activities. The Committee member asks the colleague for sample syllabi.
  5. The Committee member visits the class (as unobtrusively as possible.) Frequently the visiting Committee member talks informally with students before or after the session.  There are no formal criteria or guidelines for the report. Committee members use their best professional judgment and experience as guides. Reports have often included:
  • the subject of the class session;
  • mode of instructor presentation (lecture, discussion, combination);
  • level of instructor engagement, enthusiasm;
  • organization and clarity of presentation;
  • pacing of the lecture (for example, for students' note-taking);
  • student questions, and solicitation of/receptivity to them by instructor during class;
  • use of instructional technology, handouts, outlines;
  • integration of visual technology (PowerPoint, slides, etc.) with the verbal presentation;
  • level of student attention and engagement;
  • suggestions for improvement the instructor might consider.
  • The Committee member then prepares a written report which is shared with the colleague and placed in her/his file. Along with teaching evaluations, student letters and other evidence of teaching, the peer report is considered by the review committee and the departmental Academic Personnel Committee and incorporated into their reviews and the departmental letter.

 

Math

The Teaching Committee of the department consists of three full professors who are selected by the Chair from among those considered among the most successful teachers in the department.  In particular, the department has an annual award for teaching for ladder faculty and the members of the committee would usually be chosen from among previous winners of the award.  A member of the committee contacts the faculty member up for advancement and arranges to observe one lecture.

The Teaching Committee member then prepares a written evaluation based both on the observed lecture and on an examination of student evaluations.  The Teaching Committee member may also review course Web sites and such.

There is no written description of this procedure nor written guidelines for members of the Teaching Committee.  However, since the membership of the committee changes only gradually, new members can be informed of this simple process by continuing members.

The teaching evaluation is a part of the report that is made to the faculty in preparation for voting on the proposed advancement.  This report is not made available to the candidate for advancement.

 

Department of Medicine

A faculty member may, at times, participate in a lecture, grand rounds, or research seminar series where peers are present to provide an evaluation.  If not available, peer teaching evaluations are solicited from faculty who have observed the physician training in a clinical setting or in a laboratory setting, using the attached evaluation forms [see Appenix 1].  The School of Medicine Dean’s Office requires a peer faculty name/signature on the form to qualify as an acceptable peer teaching evaluation.  Anonymous evaluations are not accepted, which places limitations on some of the teaching activities that involve peer teaching.

 

Physics and Astronomy

All departmental reviews for merit advancements and promotions, including peer review of teaching, are composed of the following elements.

  1. The Chair requests a candid self-evaluation from the candidate of his/her record on research, teaching, and service during the period under review.
    (Names of outside reviewers will also be requested, when appropriate).
  2. The Chair appoints a departmental ad hoc committee, charged with providing its independent evaluation, and report, of the candidate’s accomplishments during the period under review.
    For the teaching part of its evaluation, the ad hoc committee will consult:
    1. the candidate’s self-evaluation;
    2. the numerical scores of student teaching evaluations;
    3. the specific written comments provided in student evaluations;
    4. any analysis of the teaching record in outside letters, when available.
  3. The elected departmental Merit Increase Committee (elected yearly) provides its own independent review, and report, of the candidate’s record.
  4. The Chair assembles a summary report.
  5. In preparation for promotion to tenure, a candidate is requested to present a departmental colloquium on his/her research. The colloquium is to be accessible to faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students. The quality of the colloquium is used as an element of in the evaluation of the candidate’s teaching.

It should be added that all non-faculty lecturers are reviewed at least once per year by the vice-chair for academic affairs, whose report is made available to the Chair.

It is proposed to streamline and further formalize the peer review process, starting 1 July
2012, by the addition of the following elements:

  • For a promotion (fourth-year review of assistant professor; assistant professor to tenured associate professor; associate professor to full professor; from below full professor step VI to full professor step VI or above; and to initial above scale) one faculty observer, appointed by the Chair in consultation with the corresponding departmental ad hoc committee, will conduct a class visit arranged at the convenience of the faculty observer and the candidate.
  • The purpose of the class visit is to assess the class room teaching performance of the candidate, with special attention to be given to the following elements:
    1. Effectiveness of instruction;
    2. Availability to the students;
    3. Educational value of the material taught, when choice is available. 
  • The observations made during this class visit will be made available to the candidate via the department chair and the faculty observer.

April 30, 2012

 

Slavic Languages & Literatures

Departmental procedures for peer review of teaching are built into our bylaws. We have a standing Committee on Teaching, whose charge is to “offer advice to faculty whose teaching is below departmental standards. The Committee is also available for consultation regarding grading policies and instructional improvement. The Committee normally has two faculty members.”  Normally “below department standards” would mean falling below a 6.00 average (on a 9.00 point scale) on standard student evaluations over the course of an academic year, though this is an informal benchmark. The Chair would be the first to review evaluations and determinate if they, or some other source of evidence, warranted further action, and would initiate action in coordination with the Committee on Teaching.

Except in the case stipulated above, class visits do not take place except for assistant professors who are being reviewed for fourth-year reappointment or tenure, or newly appointed adjunct faculty. If visits were required, they would be conducted by one or both members of the Committee on Teaching. No specific guidelines are provided by the committee, since it is assumed that its members can readily identify those aspects of the teaching record that may have resulted in lower than average evaluation scores. Generally speaking, since our department is small, we are familiar with each other’s research and teaching style, and problems with teaching have rarely arisen.

Review of teaching is nonetheless an important part of peer review for purposes of advancement or promotion. The department carefully considers both the statistical record and the written comments of students for each review, as well as course syllabi for any new or conspicuously revised courses. In case of promotions, letters of evaluation are solicited from both graduate and undergraduate students and enter into the department’s recommendation to the administration. 

 This policy statement was reviewed and unanimously approved by Department faculty in an informal survey conducted by electronic mail between March 23 and March 28, 2012.

Webpage last updated May 9, 2013