iSchool Peer Review Guidelines

All tenure-track, full-time temporary, and part-time faculty members must have peer evaluation of their courses. The frequency of these reviews depends on the nature of the instructor’s appointment and status.

  • Tenure-track, probationary faculty must have a minimum of one peer evaluation per academic year. Each course taught should be reviewed at least once during the probationary period. Additional reviews can be conducted at the request of the faculty member or Director.
  • Tenured, promotion candidates should be reviewed at least twice during the review period. Reviews should cover a representative sampling of courses.
  • Temporary full-time faculty should be reviewed in the first year that they are appointed. Thereafter they should be reviewed once during the appointment period.
  • Part-time temporary instructors must be reviewed in at least one course in their first semester of appointment and at least every third semester thereafter. If this is not feasible, reviews should be made as often as is practicable.

Additional peer evaluations may be made under certain circumstances and on an as-needed basis:

  • When requested by any faculty member. Tenured full professors may request a peer review for professional development.
  • At the discretion of the Director or Associate Director.

Peer Review Purpose and Content

University policy #F12-6 requires that departmental evaluations have a formalized process and an established set of criteria. The policy states that peer reviewers should consider the following factors when evaluating a course: 1) context, purpose, and objectives of the course; and 2) implementation of the course. When reviewing online courses, reviewers should evaluate the course from the students’ perspective.

Some departments use a standardized form, with a list of evaluation criteria that ask for a numeric rating as well as commentary. The iSchool’s RTP Guidelines outline the purpose of peer reviews and what they should cover:

Peer reviews include evaluations of teaching strategies, course materials, course content, and mode of delivery. They are intended to assist a candidate's pedagogical development, and critical comments should not be automatically construed as a negative review. Nevertheless, a candidate should include evidence [in his or her dossier] that peer-review suggestions for improvement are being addressed and that strategies to improve teaching effectiveness have been successfully implemented.

Peer reviews should indicate the evidence used in evaluating teaching effectiveness. The course syllabus should always be examined. Content on the course’s learning management site (lectures, readings, assignments, discussions, etc.) should also be considered, as appropriate to the class. In addition, peer reviewers should note any unfavorable conditions in the learning environment beyond the faculty member’s control. The reviewee has the right to respond to the evaluation in writing within seven calendar days after receiving the review.

Peer reviews will be assigned by the RTP Committee chair each semester. The reviews should be conducted by a faculty member of equal or, preferably, higher rank than the individual being reviewed. Peer review training offered by the Center for Faculty Affairs is optional. The iSchool Director is responsible for ensuring that the peer reviews follow the approved peer review guidelines. Reviews not following the guidelines will be returned to the reviewer for revision.

Peer Review Procedures

  1. The chair of the RTP Committee assigns the peer reviews each semester.
  2. The peer reviewer should contact the faculty member being reviewed and ask to be enrolled in the Canvas site of the course being reviewed. According to university policy, this contact must be made at least 5 days prior to the review being conducted.
  3. The review will be written in memorandum format on SJSU stationery and have a signature at its conclusion.
  4. The memorandum should begin with the following information: name of the faculty being reviewed; name of peer reviewer; course number; course title; semester and year; date of evaluation. A model for this memorandum is provided below.
  5. Following this introductory matter, the reviewer should list the materials consulted for the evaluation (i.e., syllabus, prepared lectures, assignment guidelines, discussion participation, responses to student questions, etc.). The reviewer should also indicate any adverse conditions affecting the class beyond the instructor’s control.
  6. The body of the review should cover the criteria established in the iSchool RTP Guidelines: teaching strategies, course materials, course content, and mode of delivery. In commenting on each of these areas, keep in mind the teaching standards used in the SOTES, most notably: relevance of course content; interest in teaching the course; intellectually challenging teaching methods; assignments that enhance learning; responsiveness, approachability, and creation of an atmosphere that facilitates learning; respect for diversity; fair grading methods; and meaningful feedback.
  7. The original, signed review should be submitted to the administrative coordinator (aka Roffna Principe). A copy of the review should be sent to the faculty member as well.
  8. The administrative coordinator will ask the reviewed faculty member to sign the original review, after which she will place the review in the faculty member’s official personnel file. The faculty member should keep a copy of the review for inclusion in RTP reports.
  9. The reviewed faculty member may respond to the review in writing. The response will also be placed in the faculty’s personnel file.

MEMORANDUM

To: Name of reviewed faculty member
From: Your name
Course Reviewed: INFO # and course title
Semester/Year:
Date of Evaluation: When you examined the course materials
Materials Examined: List the specific items (e.g. Syllabus, lectures, assignment guidelines, etc.). You can also note what was not reviewed, such as assignment feedback or grading. Also indicate any negative factors affecting the class beyond the faculty member’s control.

[Text of review]

[Signature]
[Date]

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