Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Development of a Peer Teaching-Assessment Program and a Peer Observation and Evaluation Tool

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Development of a Peer Teaching-Assessment Program and a Peer Observation and Evaluation Tool

Article excerpt


A majority of American colleges and schools of pharmacy use standardized student rating of large classroom teaching to assess the effectiveness of teaching. (1) These assessment tools are used to evaluate teaching effectiveness for such purposes as merit, promotion, and tenure decisions. Although a large volume of literature endorses the reliability and validity of standardized student ratings of teaching effectiveness, concerns have been raised that these rating systems do not capture the total teaching experience, nor should teaching effectiveness be judged solely from the student perspective. (2-9) Additional assessment questions that may not be answered by using only student evaluations include: Do learning objectives align with the overall course goals? Is the lecture material relevant to the course objectives? Is the content current and up-to-date? Are the assessment strategies consistent with learning objectives? Are connections to prior learning within the curriculum made effectively? How has student learning been documented? How does this course fit into the overall curriculum goals? While student evaluations are the traditional method of measuring teaching effectiveness, pharmacy faculty members have indicated an interest in utilizing alternative methods of evaluating teaching. (10)

The 2007 American Council of Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) Guidelines for the Accreditation of Doctor of Pharmacy Programs state that teaching faculty members should be evaluated annually. The Guidelines further indicate that assessment procedures should include self-assessment and "... appropriate input from peers, supervisors, and students. The use of self-assessment and improvement tools, such as portfolios, by faculty and staff is encouraged." (11)

As part of the university-wide teaching review process, Northeastern University requires that at least 2 methods of teaching assessment be used. Standard student rating evaluations must be included for yearly merit as well as tenure and promotion decisions. However, what constitutes "best practices" for assessment of large classroom teaching is highly contextual given the differences in institutional goals, resources, priorities, and discipline paradigms. Therefore, other recommended means of documenting teaching effectiveness include peer classroom visits, peer evaluations of class materials, teaching portfolios (including self-assessment), and evaluations by alumni of the program. (12)

While peer assessment has been recommended, it has not been required at our institution. Within the Department of Pharmacy Practice, faculty members have been encouraged to have a colleague of their choice evaluate

at least 1 lecture per year. The evaluation typically consisted of a colleague observing the lecture and evaluating the instructor using a checklist-style evaluation tool. Many factors limited the utility of this process. Because the process was not mandatory and individual faculty members were responsible for initiating the peer evaluation, not all faculty members consistently participated. Also, faculty members were not trained in peer observation and the tool's reliability and validity had never been tested. Thus, the Department did not view the peer assessment process as entirely useful and expressed interest in revising the program.

The objectives of this study were to develop, implement, and evaluate a peer assessment program for large classroom teaching (more than 75 students). The presentation of this effort is in 2 parts. First, the multi-step development process and the rationale used to proceed through each step are described. During this process, we determined that it was necessary to de novo develop a Peer Observation Evaluation Tool (POET) to standardize the observation. Therefore, in the second part of the report, the methods and results of the process to develop a valid and reliable assessment tool. Overall, the peer assessment program should allow faculty members to document teaching effectiveness over time; assist in the assessment of teaching at merit, promotion, and tenure reviews; and contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning within our program. …

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