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Peer Observations

A Peer Observation is intended to be a formative learning experience in which one faculty member observes another and provides feedback on their teaching. The observed faculty member then reflects on this feedback and uses it to develop his or her teaching practice.

Completed before the mid-point of the class, this feedback can be used immediately to positively impact the learning experience of students. Currently, the Peer Observer writes the Peer Observation Report using the Report Template included below.

Peer Observation Process for Online/Blended Courses

Instructions & Templates
The following documents will guide you through the Peer Observation process for online/blended courses at RDC:


Overview and Information

Formative and Summative
SGIFs at RDC focus on teaching and learning and are formative. This chart identifies the difference between formative and summative observations or reviews, and how this applies within current roles and expectations.

Formative and Summative: what is the relationship?

Reflective Questions Image  
Faculty Performance Policy
Management of Data
The Peer Observer or SGIF Facilitator is responsible for maintaining the data and documents produced in a confidential manner until the end of the Academic Year (June 30th). At the end of the Academic Year (June 30th), documents related to the Observation or SGIF should be destroyed.
It is the responsibility of the Faculty Member who receives a Peer Observation or SGIF to maintain his or her SGIF Report or Peer Observation Report long-term for use in the Year-End Package.

Peer Observation Process and Forms

Peer Observation Process
This document gives a detailed overview of the Peer Observation Process. Both Peer Observers and faculty receiving Peer Observations should be familiar with this document.

This document will be updated as needed. Please check back for changes marked in bold.

Pre-Observation Instructor Form
This form is intended for the faculty member who will be observed to complete in advance of the pre-observation meeting.

Pre-Observation Meeting Observer Form
This form is for the use of the Peer Observer during the pre-observation meeting. Ideally this is held up to a week prior to the planned observation. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the faculty member’s goals for the observation, and for the peer observer to gather information about the context of the course, the student population and experience, and the plans for the session on the day of the observation.

Forms for Taking Notes during Observations
This document may be used to organize notes and feedback during the observation of a teaching session.

This instrument incorporates areas related to activities in teaching and learning that lend themselves to a dynamic and interactive learning experience. Influenced by learner-centred principles, universal design for learning, and sound pedagogical practices, it has been adapted from the Institute of Teaching, Learning, and Academic Leadership, State University of New York [11]

This document provides an alternative data collection method to capture observations and comments. Less structured in orientation, it cues the peer observer to note both instructor and student behaviour.

Post Observation Meeting Guide
This guide poses discussion and reflective questions for the post-observation meeting.

Peer Observation Report Template  

Learner-Centred Teaching, Lesson Plans, and Course Outcomes

Learner-Centred Teaching
This links to the CTL website and numerous resources for learner-centered practice [16].

Learner-centred teachers:

  • Engage students in learning
  • Teach students how to learn
  • Encourage student reflection
  • Motivate students by sharing power
  • Encourage collaboration
Lesson Plan Samples
Attached below are several Lesson Plan templates offered for use during Introduction to Teaching and Learning (ITL). Participants are also free to use other formats.

Resource: This website includes information on Effective Lesson Planning specific to Higher Education: http://www.crlt.umich.edu/gsis/p2_5 [20]


Training Sessions

Training Information
Thank you for your commitment as a Peer Observer at Red Deer College! Peer observations are an important component within Faculty Evaluation, and the feedback and reflection are integral to our development as teachers.

Peer Observers at RDC will be able to:

  • Create a climate for learning and teaching development through mentoring.
  • Discuss and model learner-centred principles and practices.
  • Facilitate appreciative approaches to teaching development.
  • Construct useful and detailed feedback.
  • Engage faculty in a self-reflective process.

This site contains information and resources to assist you in your role as a Peer Observer.

Training Presentation
This presentation contains information about the changes to peer observations as of September, 2014.

This link will take you to the Presentation for the 2014-2015 Peer Observer Training Sessions. In google docs, this Presentation is live and will be updated before each session

Process Document
This document, which will open as a Google document in a new tab, gives a detailed overview of the Peer Observation Process. Both Peer Observers and faculty receiving Peer Observations should be familiar with this document.

This document will be updated as needed. Please check back for changes marked in bold.

Training Videos
The following videos were created by the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at the University of British Columbia and they provide valuable information to consider within each stage of Peer Observations. These videos are supplemental.


Readings on Peer Observations


Providing Effective Feedback

Characteristics of Effective Feedback
According to Kathleen McEnerney et al, reflective feedback has the following characteristics:

  • promotes reflection as part of a dialogue between the giver and receiver of feedback. Both parties are involved in observing, thinking, reporting and responding.

  • focuses on observed behaviour rather than on the person. Refers to what an individual does rather than what we think she or he is.

  • is descriptive, not judgemental. Avoids language that increases the need for the individual to respond defensively.

  • is specific rather than general.

  • promotes reflection about strategies and the students’ or observer’s responses to a specific strategy.

  • is directed toward behaviour which the receiver can change.

  • considers the needs of both the receiver and giver of feedback.

  • is solicited rather than imposed. Feedback is most useful when the receiver actively seeks feedback, and is able to discuss it in a supportive environment.

  • is well-timed. In general, feedback is most useful at the earliest opportunity after the given behaviour.

  • involves sharing information rather than giving advice, leaving the individual free to change in accordance with personal goals and needs.

  • considers the amount of information the receiver can use rather than the amount the observer would like to give. Overloading an individual with feedback reduces the likelihood that the information will be used effectively.

  • requires a supportive, confidential relationship built on trust, honesty, and genuine concern.

Kathleen McEnerney, et al. “Building Community through Peer Observation.” American Association for Higher Education, Forum on Faculty Roles and Rewards (San Diego, CA, January 18, 1997)

Considerations for Giving Feedback
This blog from the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, King’s College raises important considerations when thinking about effective and supportive feedback. Using video clips to stimulate thinking, it is an excellent example of the benefits of constructive dialogue and reflection.


Peer Observers


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Updated September 22, 2020