Having established which colleagues are likely to give you the most helpful and constructive feedback, the next stage is to actually implement the feedback process. In this section we focus on different ways of gathering feedback, and on making sure you use your time productively.

Focusing the peer-feedback process: Content

Of course, the feedback process is likely to be at its most helpful when feedback is focused on the things that are causing you most concern. What are these? You may get some ideas by looking at the forms in the Peer Review of Teaching sourcebook in the 'Resource bank' or from doing the 'Optional activity' on this screen.. Being as specific as possible about the things that trouble you or engage your curiosity will encourage richer and more focused feedback.

How to get feedback

Once you have identified colleagues and focused their attention on the key questions you want to answer, it is time to consider how you are actually going to go about getting feedback. So, what are the most helpful ways of obtaining developmental feedback on teaching from colleagues? The options available depend on whether you have agreed to carry out one-way or reciprocal feedback with your colleagues. The following paragraphs will give you more information about obtaining feedback. The options available depend on whether you have agreed to carry out one-way or reciprocal feedback with your colleagues.

Course materials

This option works for both reciprocal and non-reciprocal arrangements. Make your course materials available for review, including copies of marked assignments, exam scripts, lecture notes and slides, course outlines, general course communications and any other documents (print or digital) that will show your teaching in action as well as planned.

Teaching sessions

Invite your colleague to attend a class, making sure that the issues you select for focus are identified to the colleague in advance. If you are involved in reciprocal feedback, then you can even try becoming 'students' in each other's teaching sessions for a period, doing assignments and experiencing the course.

Interviewing students

As part of a reciprocal feedback arrangement you can try interviewing one another's students about their learning and discussing results.

Stimulated recall

With your colleague, you can carry out stimulated recall after teaching sessions. Review what you planned, whether or not it happened, and what the critical learning moments in the class were. This method can be part of one-way or reciprocal exchange.

Marking

As part of a reciprocal feedback arrangement you might mark a sample of the same exam scripts/assignments and comparing your results to prompt a rich discussion on assessment.

Sharing reflective essays

If you are giving reciprocal feedback, you can share and exchange reflective essays. An example of such an essay is contained in the article by Peter Elbow (1980) listed in the 'Resource bank'.

Focusing the peer-feedback process: Time

You may feel that soliciting feedback from colleagues will be time-consuming for you as well as your colleagues. It is important to control the time you expect to put into your review, and one way to do this is to use specific feedback forms to focus the review. Sample forms can be found in Chism's Peer Review of Teaching (see the 'Resource bank' at the end of this course for further details).

Consider the following example of a plan that will allow a colleague to provide you with a considerable amount of information in only six hours.

  • Initial meeting or exchange about the feedback process – 1 hour
  • Observing part of a teaching session with focused plan – 1 1/2 hours
  • Reviewing print materials and completing feedback forms – 2 hours
  • Having a feedback conversation – 1 hour
  • Finalising comments in writing – 1/2 hour

Communicating with your colleague

To get the richest and most focused feedback, it is important to communicate well with your colleague. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure you allow time to discuss things properly
  • Try to avoid defensive reactions by considering feedback within the context of enquiry about teaching, rather than your personal performance
  • Check your understanding of what is being said
  • Record your thoughts about the review for future use and reflection
  • Aim for reciprocal benefits – how can this exchange help the colleague as well?


The feedback you receive may be oral, embedded in one or more conversations, or it may be written. Some people prefer to use narrative format for written feedback, and others checklists or rating forms. The forms in Peer Review of Teaching show a variety of strategies.

Since the ultimate goal of peer feedback for development is the improvement of teaching, what happens after feedback is exchanged is extremely important. To that end, it is crucial that you enlist your colleague's help in thinking about specific steps to take towards improvement: What alternative approaches might be better? What resources would you need to implement them? How will you continue to monitor this aspect of your teaching? Ending on a constructive note is a hallmark of good peer exchange.