Innovative Approaches to Documenting Teaching: Peer Evaluation of Teaching and Teaching Portfolios

My name is Tiffany Steele and I was a graduate research associate for the University Institute for Teaching and Learning (UITL). Over the summer, I was tasked with the duty to begin the research for UITL on the topics of faculty peer evaluation and the use of teaching portfolios within the appointment, promotion, and tenure process. Through my research of best practices across the country and within The Ohio State University, I have found commonalities but also room for growth when it comes to both supporting faculty undergoing review and faculty responsible for conducting reviews of their peers. 

Peer Evaluation of Teaching

Typically, peer review/evaluation for tenure and promotion includes a classroom observation of the ways that faculty members share knowledge with students through teaching. The requirements vary across departments and colleges, but most faculty are asked to share their course materials, syllabus, exams, and course assignments with their peer reviewers. Best practices in peer evaluations include a pre-meeting between reviewers and faculty under review before classroom observation in order to discuss topics such as teaching philosophies, class session goals, and course learning objectives. Best practices also incorporate a post meeting during which faculty are encouraged to discuss their performance in the classroom with the reviewer and openly dialogue about positive feedback and areas of improvement. The results of this peer review are then submitted to the department chair to be included in the faculty member’s dossier.

Teaching Portfolios

In contrast to the required peer evaluation of teaching, teaching portfolios are much more uncommon practice in promotion and tenure across Ohio State’s peer institutions and within the University itself. The teaching portfolio serves as a site for faculty members to collect and maintain information about their overall teaching processes, student demonstrations of learning, professional development in teaching, summary of student and peer evaluation, and self-reflection. The usage of teaching portfolios can encourage faculty members to improve course materials, evoke reflection, and rethink their course learning content (De Ridjt, Tiquet, Dochy & Devolder, 2006). Although each element typically housed in teaching portfolios may already be included in candidates’ dossiers, some departments may be reluctant to require full-scale teaching portfolios given the amount of time it takes to create, maintain, and also review them.

Recommended Resources

While exploring various university websites, I found three institutions with resources that share valuable information for the peer review process and/or teaching portfolios: The University of Arizona, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University.

The University of Arizona is one institution that demonstrates best practices include an online classroom observation tool that allows the creation of department specific evaluations.

Staff in the Faculty Innovation Center at the University of Texas at Austin created a “Peer Review of Teaching White Paper” that outlines the suggested structure of the peer review process and how to promote the process within each department.

Vanderbilt University demonstrates best practices by providing a more extensive peer review process that incorporates factors such as engagement with centers for teaching and documenting advising activity.

Although there is more research to be done, current practices can be informed and improved through the current best practices of universities across the country.




De Rijdt, C., Tiquet, E., Dochy, F., & Devolder, M. (2006). Teaching portfolios in higher education

and their effects: An explorative study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(8), 1084-1093.


Tiffany Steele is a second-year doctoral student in the Higher Education & Student Affairs program at The Ohio State University. Steele’s current research interest centers around the retention of minority students and staff at predominantly white institutions with a focus on black female college student success. Email: