Authorization and Approval

Authorization: University Council
Responsibility: University Council
Approval Date: June 16, 2022

Purpose

The University of Saskatchewan is committed to excellence in teaching, academic programming and students’ learning experiences. The university is committed to implementation of a peer review policy that enables all educators to receive regular feedback on teaching practices from peers. Peer feedback can be undertaken as one component contributing to assessment of teaching effectiveness through collegial and administrative processes, often called summative (herein referred to as peer review for renewal, tenure and promotion, or RTP) or only for the educator’s use to improve teaching practice, often called formative (herein referred to as non-RTP peer review). The university acknowledges the value of peer review for development of teaching and as part of RTP processes. Feedback from peers is one part of an overall teaching effectiveness framework that also includes regular student feedback, self-assessment, collegial processes and other forms of assessment as appropriate to inform ongoing teaching enhancement. This peer review policy and associated processes aim, (1) to foster increased consistency in peer review of teaching as is feasible across USask whilst acknowledging the diversity of teaching practices and contexts that exist across the institution, (2) to facilitate equitable and fair evaluation of case files at departmental, college, and university levels through a more consistent understanding of and process for evidencing ongoing development in line with college/department and university level standards, and (3) to encourage and enable ongoing development of teaching practice by all educators in light of research on student learning in higher education and shifts in curricula over time that necessitate adjustments in teaching approach. This policy document flows out of and acknowledges educator and university community commitments made in Our University of Saskatchewan Learning Charter.

Principles

This policy is predicated on the following ideas:

1)   Integrity
  1. The rights (e.g., as per collective agreements) and dignity of educators being reviewed, and reviewing will be protected in the process
  2. The rights (e.g., intellectual property, privacy) of students will be protected in the process of peer review (e.g., in classroom observation, review of assessment materials)
  3. Reviewers will be selected to avoid conflict of interest and ensure separation of key roles (e.g., mentor and reviewer)
  4. Confidentiality of review outcomes will be maintained
2)   Transparency and fairness
  1. The processes of peer review shall be fair and transparent; review criteria, processes and what constitutes adequate evidence will be explicit and understood at the outset by educators
  2. Review criteria will attend to all relevant aspects of teaching practice (including but not limited to review of curriculum design, learning materials, learning environment, instructional practices, assessment design, provision of feedback to students)
  3. The review process will be robust, with feedback following from well documented evidence
3)   Usefulness
  1. Institutional review criteria will be drawn from University of Saskatchewan standards for renewal, promotion, tenure and/or merit and the evidence that will demonstrate a reviewee’s ongoing development and/or achievement
  2. Additions or amendments to review criteria and process to align with college/departmental standards must be approved by the college faculty council or department where such authority has been appropriately delegated to a department
  3. Criteria and process developed at the college/department level should maintain appropriate consistency with institutional criteria whilst respecting diversity within and across college/department contexts and teaching practices
  4. Dialogue between the reviewee and reviewer(s) should be open and ongoing throughout the review process to ensure opportunity for understanding the reviewee’s teaching context and approach and the review outcomes
  5. Peer review will be used as one component of a portfolio of evidence of teaching effectiveness; interpretation shall be fair and transparent
4)   Teaching enhancement
  1. Educators seek to receive and share feedback on teaching and can use this feedback to enhance teaching and learning practice
  2. Feedback is most useful when received by an educator in a timely fashion
  3. Every RTP peer review will be reviewed by the appropriate academic leader and the educator being reviewed and strategies collaboratively devised, as appropriate, to support teaching and learning enhancement
  4. RTP peer reviews should complement ongoing mentoring and non-RTP peer review
5)   Equity
  1. Peer review will include explicit consideration of factors which might influence the review (e.g., gender and/or ethnicity of reviewee or reviewer, nature of course content in relation to reviewer identities, etc. - further detail in responsibilities of educators acting as reviewers)

Policy Statement

  1. Under typical circumstances, for those seeking renewal, tenure, promotion, or merit featuring teaching practice, or for those not fully promoted, peer review of teaching practices will be conducted each year for inclusion in one’s case file. The intention of gathering feedback from peers over time is to demonstrate a pattern to one’s teaching practice. This is particularly important for colleagues early in their academic career (e.g., pre-tenure). To align with good practice and provide additional benefits to educators, regular non-RTP peer review is encouraged for those not seeking tenure or promotion and those fully promoted.

  2. In each peer review, the purpose(s) (e.g., for RTP) should be transparent for reviewees and reviewers.

  3. RTP peer review outcomes are to be shared:
3.1.    with educators being reviewed.
3.2.    with academic administrators and appropriate collegial committees according to the guidelines developed and approved by the department/college.

4. Outcomes of non-RTP peer review, if conducted by a unit, are to be shared only with educators being reviewed as soon as possible after the review is completed.

5. Time dedicated to undertaking RTP and non-RTP peer reviews for colleagues will be recognized as contribution to the administrative responsibilities of the department/college.

Responsibilities

Institution:

  • Oversee the implementation and maintenance of this policy
  • Provide support and education to university community members regarding the interpretation, use and value of peer review processes and peer feedback
  • Provide resources and supports to prepare peer reviewers
  • Ensure that processes and this policy comply with the University of Saskatchewan Standards for Promotion and Tenure and pertinent university policies
  • Review practices across the institution periodically to assess consistency and EDI concerns

Colleges and Departments:

  • Develop and maintain a written peer review guideline that reflects this policy. These guidelines will include (but are not limited to) information about the process for peer review (e.g., how reviewers will be selected and matched with reviewees), how frequently peer review will take place for RTP and non-RTP purposes, the format for reviews (e.g., what elements of practice will be reviewed), and how feedback might be used by educators and academic leaders and their delegates (e.g., for teaching enhancement purposes, in tenure and promotion)
  • Ensure college/department template(s) for peer review reflect the principles outlined in this policy by using and/or adding to institutional templates, or utilizing a template that, at minimum, includes (1) criteria drawn from University of Saskatchewan standards for renewal, promotion, and tenure, (2) feedback for the educator on each criterion noting evidence found, strengths, and areas for improvement, (3) reviewer’s summary and final reflections and noted factors related to equity, and (4) educator reflections on the feedback and plans for enhancement.
  • Manage the administration of peer review processes within the college/department

Academic Leaders (school or department heads or deans in non-departmentalized colleges):

  • Coordinate the administration of peer review, including availability of administrative resources
  • Ensure reviewers are supported and able to provide respectful, ethical, thoughtful and constructive feedback and engage in inclusive peer review practices, drawing on institutional resources, where appropriate
  • Consider acting as reviewer in the peer review process in annual assignment of duties
  • Use peer feedback appropriately, recognizing its benefits and limitations
  • Act as stewards of RTP peer review reports
  • Oversee peer review process as one component of the assessment of teaching effectiveness
  • Review department/school/college practices periodically to assess consistency and EDI concerns, and lead the response to any identified issues
  • Act within the spirit and intent of this policy and college guidelines for interpreting peer feedback on teaching practices

Educators being reviewed: 

  • Understand this policy and college guidelines and act within their spirit and intent
  • Review and utilize peer feedback regularly to enhance teaching and learning
  • Participate in peer review processes in a way that enables open and constructive dialogue with peers
  • Discuss results with colleagues as appropriate including, for example, department head or dean

Educators acting as reviewer: 

  • Commit to participate in the sharing of their experiences of teaching and learning
  • Provide respectful, ethical, thoughtful and constructive feedback so as to fuel educator and institutional reflection and enable processes of continuous enhancement of teaching and learning, being mindful of the significance of RTP peer review processes in the development of the reviewee
  • Participate in peer review processes in a way that enables open and constructive dialogue with peers
  • Maintain confidentiality of review outcomes in line with this policy, unless given explicit permission to share by the reviewee
  • Take into consideration factors which might influence the review (e.g., gender, ethnicity, etc. of reviewee or reviewers) and make this consideration transparent in the review report, where applicable

Questions?

If you have questions about this policy please contact:

Jay Wilson
Vice-Provost Teaching, Learning and Student Experience
306-966-6203