Environments Conducive to Summative Peer Evaluations of Teaching

  • The faculty members in a department frequently talk about how teaching can improve student learning. Over lunch and in other informal contexts, they discuss new approaches they are trying in their courses, what has worked well or not.
  • All departmental faculty frequently visit one another’s courses either for the purposes of “formative peer review,” or because they want to hear how their colleagues discuss their research projects in a classroom context, or because they want to better advise students on courses that would benefit a student’s learning needs and goals.
  • Guests in classrooms are welcomed (including prospective students and their families as well as colleagues from other departments).
  • The faculty understands the differences between formative and summative peer review and don’t confuse the goals or methods of each approach.
  • All course syllabi are made publicly available in the department and on-line.
  • Faculty expertise in the department is drawn upon by requests for guest lecturing in other departmental courses.
  • The Chair encourages junior faculty to spend appropriate amounts of time attending to their pedagogical development as well as their scholarly development.
  • Time is reserved each semester for the entire department to discuss its perceptions about what best enhances student learning.
  • Department meetings are occasionally devoted to faculty formally presenting/discussing new courses they have developed for the departmental curriculum.
  • Colleagues attend or lead “Talk About Teaching” sessions at the Center for Scholarship and Teaching on Fridays at noon.
  • The chair is comfortable talking to a faculty member after hearing a student complaint or concern rather than ignoring the concern or revealing it only at the time of a summative peer review.
  • No shame is attached to saying to one’s colleagues “I’ve been struggling with a problem in one of my courses this term and I’m unsure how to solve it. Would you sit in on a section or two and advise me on how you would handle it?”
  • Chairs will gently discourage junior faculty members from writing about pedagogy or attending pedagogy conferences until they receive tenure rather than becoming apopletic about it.
  • Junior faculty members have a sense of how they are doing in the classroom and are not surprised by evaluations at the time of pre-tenure or tenure review.