Formative Peer Review of Online Teaching
In this section of the website, you will find information about the CTLT Formative Peer Review of Online Teaching (PROT) Program.
A formative PROT may be requested when an instructor seeks feedback on:
- course design
- student engagement strategies
- teaching materials (i.e. syllabi, assignments)
- their dossier
It is recommended to limit the scope of the feedback one is requesting.
Before Engaging in PROT: Self-Assessment
Prior to requesting a peer review of online teaching (PROT), you (the instructor) may wish to conduct a self-assessment of your teaching and course. You can use the Online/Blended Learning Course Quality Checklist to help you. Download the Online/Blended Learning Course Quality Checklist here.
Steps in the Formative Peer Review of Online Teaching
There are 4 main steps in the formative peer review of online teaching (PROT). They are:
Step 1: Initiating the review
Step 2: Preliminary meeting and access to the course
Step 3: Review of online teaching (“observation”)
Step 4: Post-observation meeting and follow-up
Each step will be outlined in more detail below. Please note that specifics of each step can vary depending on the individual, the unit, the institution etc.
Step 1: Initiating the review
A formative PROT is initiated by the instructor who seeks feedback on their teaching. That instructor approaches a trusted colleague to request their support. In some departments, formative reviews are required and initiated by someone who has formally been appointed to lead that initiative.
If you are approached by a colleague to do a review, discuss these important questions to help determine if you are a good fit for one another:
- What are your goals for the review?
- What is the timeline for this review?
- What are you looking for in a reviewer?
Once a reviewer and reviewee have agreed to collaborate, here are some recommendations and tips for success:
- Acknowledge (and remember throughout) that it takes courage to request a peer review
- The success of a formative PRT depends a lot on the relationship between the reviewee (person being reviewed) and reviewer(s)
- As a reviewer, you are likely to learn a lot! Bring a learner's mindset to the review.
Note: We recognize that many faculty members do not feel equipped to do a review of online teaching, even if they have extensive experience with peer reviews and with teaching.
Before the preliminary meeting
Before the preliminary meeting, the reviewer may find it help have some information about the instructor's course and teaching. If so, they can create a Qualtrics survey that includes any or all of questions below and send it to the reviewee with a request that the responses be provided ahead of the preliminary meeting. Please note that the survey is optional; the information in the survey can be gathered during the preliminary meeting.
1. Course design:
- What was your role in designing the course?
- If you were assisted by an instructional designer or other person, please describe their involvement in the design of your course.
- When was your course last updated? What updates did you make and what prompted you to make these changes?
- Which tools are you using in the course outside of Canvas? How do these tools support student learning?
2. Content development:
- What is the extent of your contribution to content development? How, if at all, did others contribute to the development of the content?
- Are there aspects of the course content that you would like to have changed but you didn’t have time or resources? Please explain.
- Are there aspects of the course content that you cannot change due to program policy or other factors? Please say more.
- Is there anything else you would like your reviewers to know about the content and design of this course?
- Is there anything else you would like to let your reviewers know that might help support this process?
- Are you interested in collecting feedback from your students about their experience of learning in this course? If so, we can discuss options during the preliminary meeting.
Step 2: Preliminary meeting and access
At the preliminary meeting, the reviewer and reviewee will revisit the reviewee's goals for the review. Even though these were shared early in the process, it is useful to keep the reviewee's goals at the centre of the review.
Step 2a: Preliminary meeting to discuss online teaching
The preliminary meeting allows reviewers and reviewees to build rapport while they discuss online teaching and the logistics of gaining access to the course. It has other benefits that include promoting a culture of teaching and learning and enhancing collegiality. The preliminary meeting is a key element of the formative PRT.
If the reviewee has completed the survey (see Step 1), the preliminary meeting can build upon the responses. If the survey was not done before this meeting, you can incorporate a discussion of the suggested questions into the preliminary meeting.
Some of the questions to discuss at the preliminary meeting include:
1. Canvas Module or Section for observation
- Is there a particular module or section to be reviewed?
- What is the significance of this module in the course as a whole?
2. Synchronous and/or asynchronous teaching
- Are there any synchronous sessions/activities that you’d like to be observed? Why?
- Are there any asynchronous lectures/activities that you’d like to be reviewed? Why?
3. Student Engagement In the online space, student engagement encompasses three types of interactions: interaction with peers, interaction with content and interaction with instructor/facilitator.
The points below address various types of student engagement.
- Explain steps you have taken to foster a learning environment that is supportive, inclusive and motivates students to learn.
- Describe how you encourage student-to-student interaction in course assignments and other learning activities.
- Discuss how you communicate your expectations for participation and collaboration.
- Explain strategies you use to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning (e.g. allowing learners to participate in the design of course activities or other).
4. Assessment and Learning Activities
- Explain how your assessments reflect and measure the intended learning outcomes.
- Are there additional skills/competencies that are being measured by your assessment(s)?
- How do you clarify expectations for students (e.g. rubrics, checklists, other)? Are students given choice(s) about how to engage in their assignments? Say more...
- How do you design assessment activities that are meaningful and relevant to your students.?
- Describe your approach to delivering timely and appropriate constructive feedback
5. Communication and Responsiveness
- Discuss your approach to responding to student concerns and course-related issues.
- What kind of office hours do you hold?
- What means of contact are you using?
6. Ongoing Reflection and Improvement
- Explain how you evaluate the effectiveness of your course.
- What strategies do you employ for updating and refining course content and assignments?
- Explain how you make sure that your course promotes student learning and intellectual growth.
- Describe ways in which you seek out student feedback to improve your course.
Step 2b: Access to the course and to other documentation
In order to complete the review, the reviewer will need access to the online course. If you need assistance for a course associated with the UBC Vancouver campus, contact the Learning Technology Hub: lt(dot)hub@ubc(dot)ca
Depending on the focus of the review, the reviewer may also need access to other documents such as the teaching portfolio, teaching philosophy statement, student evaluations of teaching, etc.
Step 3: Review of online teaching (Observation)
Below are two different tools for assessing online teaching. Both tools can be modified to your context.
Assessing Online Facilitation: http://www2.humboldt.edu/aof/aof.htm
“The Assessing Online Facilitation instrument can be used to guide a current course's facilitation or review a recent course's facilitation.”
We extend our thanks to Dr. Cynthia Flores Gautreau, lead for the development of Assessing Online Facilitation, for granting permission to adapt this tool.
Rubric for Online Instruction: https://www.csuchico.edu/eoi/rubric.shtml
“The Rubric for Online Instruction (ROI) is a tool used to create or evaluate the design of a fully online or blended course, and was developed at Chico State. The rubric was designed to answer the question, "What does high-quality online instruction look like?"
This tool is licensed with a Creative Commons attribution license.
If the reviewee has indicated they would like to solicit feedback from students on their experience of learning, a process (i.e., an anonymous survey, small group feedback, or other) can be implemented.
Step 4: Post-Observation Meeting and Follow-Up
This is a chance to have a confidential conversation about the PROT.
- invite the reviewee to reflect on the experience.
- please remember to focus your feedback on the instructor's goals for review.
- if you have feedback to share that is outside the scope of what the instructor asked for feedback on, check with the instructor if they want to hear or use your own judgement to gauge whether this is the right time/place to share.
- let the reviewee know what you learned from participating!
If you (the reviewer) have written notes to share, let the reviewer know how/when they can access these. If you have resources to share that can further support the instructor, let them know about this too.
The CTLT Formative PRT Program & Resources
The UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology has a long-standing program on formative peer review of teaching. Please see the Formative Peer Review of Teaching section of our website for details and for a list of reviewers.
If you are interested in having your online course peer reviewed, please contact Dr. Isabeau Iqbal to discuss options (email@example.com).
Our resources include:
Developing Your Skills as a Peer Reviewer of Online Teaching: Introductory Workshop
Once or twice a year, we offer a workshop focused on peer review of teaching. It is suitable for reviewers and reviewees and is not specific to the review of online teaching. See the CTLT Events page for upcoming dates or contact our Events Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Videos about Formative Peer Review of Teaching
Watch our video series aimed to help reviewers and reviewees who are participating in the formative peer review of teaching (the series is focussed on teaching done in a physical classroom).
The videos include:
- Reviewer's first steps
- How to prepare for a pre-observation meeting
- The pre-observation meeting
- The classroom observation
- The post-observation meeting
Summative Peer Review of Teaching
- Information about the summative PRT, including documentation from UBC-Vancouver Faculties, a list of Faculty Leaders in the PRT, a rubric for SPRT and more. See here: https://ctlt.ubc.ca/programs/all-our-programs/ubc-peer-review-of-teaching-initiative/
For more information about formative peer review, please email Isabeau Iqbal.