For several years, educational institutions have been reviewing the quality and character of faculty work, looking at the numerous roles faculty are expected to take on, and especially how to more appropriately evaluate the activities and tasks of teaching. Ernest Boyer of the Carnegie Foundation asked "just how are we to evaluate teaching, and how can we be sure that standards of excellence will be protected?" There is a general sense among faculty that student evaluations are not enough. Suggestions indicate that ways are needed for faculty to be professional colleagues to one another in teaching as they are in research such as in peer review. This suggestion focuses on the concepts put forth by Lee Schulman, former professor of psychology and education at Stanford, and current president of the Carnegie Foundation, who suggests that:
- To be a superior teacher, faculty must understand not only general methods of teaching, they must also understand how to transform the particular concepts in their field into terms that their particular students will understand.
Peer review is a professional responsibility; we owe it to ourselves and our students to ensure the quality of what we do as teachers. (AAHE Project Workbook, Jan. 1995).
The concept of peer review has been discussed on the School of Dentistry campus as another means of documenting teaching excellence or the need for further improvement. Peer review should involve judgments about the quality of work for either promotion or tenure, but it should also focus upon ways that faculty can be more effective colleagues to one another in improving their work as teachers.
Peer review needs to be linked with additional activities such as a faculty member’s reflective commentary about one of their teaching artifacts or their teaching, peer mentoring, pedagogical colloquium where faculty can talk to other faculty about teaching, teaching libraries, making the peer review of teaching part of the department and school culture.
Peer review is an important component of the professional development triad – peer review, student evaluations and self-reflection.
Peer review of all current teaching faculties may be implemented through the following means:
- Peer review can be provided by any faculty member, but at a minimum each new faculty member should have one peer review per year for three years.
- If the faculty member teaches both clinically and non-clinically, then of the three peer reviews, at least one of each (clinical or non-clinical peer review) should be accomplished.
- The faculty member may request peer review.
- The department chair may request a specific peer review of a departmental faculty.
- Appropriate Peer Evaluation forms will be given to the faculty members at that time.
- Senior faculty (those who have been on the UTSD faculty for more than three years) are encouraged to have their teaching peer reviewed, but this is not mandatory at this time.
- Assigned peer reviewers will be members of the Dean’s Academy and preferably not in the same department as the faculty member being reviewed.
- Teaching ability, not subject matter expertise, is the key component of the review.
- Assignments of peer reviewer to faculty member under review should be made by the Office of Professional Development and Faculty Affairs (OPDFA), from the available members of the Dean’s Academy, after the department chairs have identified new faculty to the OPDFA. If membership in the Dean’s Academy expires during the three-year period of review, the reviewer is expected to complete the review assignment.
- Peer evaluators will be trained in programs provided by the Office of Professional Development in collaboration with personnel from the basic science and clinical departments.
Faculty value, sometimes more than anything else, the regard of their scholarly peers. Peer Review will assist in making teaching a more scholarly endeavor and elevate the status of teaching in the School of Dentistry. The Peer Review System is structured to focus on strengths of the faculty member and areas that could be enhanced. Therefore, the following outcomes could be expected from the implementation of Peer Review:
- A description of the strengths and weaknesses observed by the Peer Reviewer.
- It should be both formative and summative.
- Only summative feedback should be used for purposes such as award nomination and promotion packages. If a candidate for an award or promotion has had more than one peer review, then only the best review (as determined by the faculty member) would be submitted to the reviewing committee.
- Recommendations for enhancing specific areas of teaching.
- Opportunities to participate in activities to encourage growth in teaching and the scholarship of teaching.
- Documentation for the annual evaluation of faculty.
- The discovery of faculty who could serve as exemplary role models for others pursuing teaching excellence.
- The enhancement of teaching to the level of a scholarly endeavor.
- Invoking standards of excellence in teaching.
- Responsibility for ensuring that the reviews have been completed lies with the individual faculty member.
Peer Review Forms