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Peer Observation

A page within CATL Teaching Improvement Guide

This guide provides strategies & resources for instructors conducting peer observations in online, hybrid, and in-person courses. A three-step process is recommended:

  1. Arrange Pre-Meeting
  2. Conduct Observation
  3. Follow-Up

Conducting Peer Observations

Three-Step Process

1. Arrange Pre-Meeting

Download Meeting Agenda Template


  1. Review department by-laws 
  2. Schedule a pre-meeting 
  3. Share the agenda (see below) when you schedule the meeting
  4. Ask the instructor to come prepared to discuss the agenda items
  5. Conduct the pre-meeting


  • Review agenda​ (see below)
  • Come prepared to pre-meeting


  1. BACKGROUND: Provide background on the course in general (general education, required, typical student, mode of instruction, pre-requisites, etc.) 
  2. PURPOSE: Discuss purpose of observation (feedback requirement, alignment to JPC documentation, etc.) 
  3. DEFINE UNIT: Decide which unit/lesson will be observed ​
    - Instructor defines what “unit/lesson” means for their course
    - The unit/lesson should include interaction/engagement with students 
    - Think about the unit/lesson as equivalent of one class or one module.  The role of the instructor is to help the observer narrow to a manageable amount of material to review. 
  4. LEARNING GOALS: Discuss specific teaching and learning goals for the unit/lesson as aligned with the course student learning outcome(s).
  5. MODALITY: Explain course modality and how it contributes to teaching and learning goals for the unit/lesson. 
2. Conduct Observation

Download Peer Observation Rubric

  • Discuss how these dimensions of effective teaching are addressed in the unit/lesson. 
  • These questions align with the Six Essentials of Effective Teaching (CATL). 

How does the organization of the course and the unit/lesson contribute to student learning and engagement?

What evidence of student learning is observed in the unit/lesson as aligned with course student learning outcome(s)? What evidence of student engagement and participation is observed?  

To what extent does the unit/lesson promote inclusion and accessibility, supporting the success of all learners?

How does the unit/lesson incorporate instructor feedback to students? 

How is technology used to support and encourage student learning and engagement? 

PROGRAM​ (as applicable)
How does this unit/lesson demonstrate student progress towards programmatic learning outcomes (e.g., major/minor competences, General Education, Writing in the Major, professional standards)? 

3. Follow-Up

Download Observation Letter Template

  • Write observation letter, if requested or required by instructor for their personnel portfolio   
  • Hold a debrief meeting about the observation 
  • Share the observation letter before the meeting
  • Review the questions/concerns at the meeting
  • Instructor then shows in the evidence that they took feedback and made changes


Please note you do need to be signed-in to Office 365 with your UWL account to view these templates. 

Adding a Peer Observer to a Canvas Course

Adding a Peer Observer to Canvas

1. Click on "People" in the navigation menu.

Click on People

2. Click on "+ People"

Add People

3. Assign TA Role

Assign TA Role

4. Remove Observer after Observation is Complete

Remember to remove the observer from the course after the observation has been completed.