In your role as an instructor, you will partake in various forms of evaluation, namely, the Student Evaluations of Teaching (SEoT), the teaching dossier and the peer review of teaching. Some of these evaluations may be informal, and focussed on your professional growth in teaching, and others are formal, or for evaluation purposes.
In May 2007, the UBC Senate approved a policy on Student Evaluation of Teaching. The policy requires every course section or learning experience to be evaluated by students each time it is offered. SEoT is administered online and students are encouraged to provide their feedback for each course they take. Data from these online surveys may be used to reflect on your teaching. For more information on SEoT at UBC, please visit http://teacheval.ubc.ca/.
The teaching dossier is a record of your teaching experiences, abilities, beliefs and accomplishments. According to Pelger and Larsson, a strong dossier is selective and comprised of documents that are representative of your teaching practice and that reflect your goals and values. It combines narrative descriptions with sample teaching materials (e.g., syllabi, assignments, feedback to students) and factual information (e.g., lists of courses taught, results from the SEoT) to provide a snapshot of you as an instructor. It also identifies areas of growth.
The peer review of teaching (also called the peer observation of teaching) is a form of evaluation designed to provide feedback to instructors about their teaching. In a peer review, academic colleagues give and receive feedback on teaching with the ultimate goal of enhancing student learning. Formative peer review emphasizes professional growth in teaching and information is intended for an instructor’s personal use. It is typically confidential between the reviewer and person reviewed. Summative peer review is used to aid in making personnel decisions, such as hiring, promotion and tenure—the information is for public inspection (i.e., by the department head or dean, and by tenure and reappointment committees) and may be more comparative in nature than formative peer review, according to author N. V. Chism. While classroom observations may be the most common form of peer review, reviews may be of syllabi, online teaching, assignments, teaching dossiers, laboratory teaching and more.
The evaluation of teaching through student comments, peer reviews and self-reflection can help you grow as an instructor. The evaluation of teaching also matters for your career progression as tenure, promotion and reappointment committees consider the data from these sources in their decision-making processes.
You can start to assemble your dossier by creating digital or physical files and folders to collect information and artifacts. For example, keep a file for all your teaching-related professional growth activities, another for your syllabi to track changes over time, etc. For more information on teaching portfolios, please visit ctlt.ubc.ca/teaching-portfolios or contact CTLT for an individual consultation.
Be proactive in scheduling a formative peer review and ask colleagues if you can observe their classes in order to gain a better sense of what teaching looks like in your program. As specific guidelines for the peer review of teaching vary across departments and Faculties, we encourage you to consult your department head for a copy of your unit’s guidelines. If you would like to have a formative peer review of your teaching, please contact CTLT. One of our educational consultants can conduct the review or we can find you a reviewer among our Formative Peer Review of Teaching Team, with trained reviewers from across campus.
The following is a list of resources that may help you develop your teaching dossier and/or learn more about peer review of teaching:
Be proactive and find out, early on, what the departmental expectations are for peer review and a teaching dossier.
PhD Lecturer and Honours Chair, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts
Peer review of my teaching helped me to better understand my strengths as an instructor and identify areas of development. At the pre-observation meeting, I received guidance in identifying and articulating my goals, which guided the class observation and the evaluation of my course resources (syllabi and assignments). The process helped me think more critically about how my desired practice aligned with actual experiences and my teaching philosophy. The post-observation was particularly helpful in highlighting my strengths from an objective. Most importantly, I was directed to many resources and best practices—including from other colleagues—to support my development. Overall, the process increased my confidence as an instructor and enhanced my teaching capability via practical support. I would highly recommend peer review of teaching for both new and seasoned instructors.