Guideline UL-ING01 Peer Review of Instruction

Main Policy Content

  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Frequency
  • Selection of Peer Reviewer
  • Procedure
  • Responsibility for Scheduling Peer Reviews
  • Retention and Distribution
  • Cross References
  • Appendix


To provide a process for peer review of the quality and effectiveness of instruction delivered by faculty members in the University Libraries.


Peer review is required for University Libraries faculty members whose core responsibilities include instruction and who document instruction in their Faculty Activity Report (annual evaluation) or dossier for promotion or tenure.


  1. Credit instruction (in which a University Libraries faculty member is the instructor of record of a course taught for academic credit):

    Provisional tenure years: one review per course per year.


    Tenured: one review per course every two years (or as the frequency of credit instruction assignments allows).


    Fixed-term: one review per course per year.

  2. Other instruction (course-related and non-credit instruction such as workshops, etc.):

    Provisional tenure years: two peer reviews prior to the fourth-year tenure review, and two more peer reviews prior to the sixth-year review for final tenure.


    Tenured: one review every two years.


    Fixed-term: once a year after the first year of appointment of a multi-year contract.


Eligibility: reviews may be conducted by any full-time faculty member at Penn State.

Selection: mutual decision by the unit head in consultation with the faculty member under review (“unit head” is the administrator to whom the faculty member directly reports).


  1. Resident course or class session
    A. Initial consultation: describe the course, learning objectives for the session, share course materials, schedule class observation, discuss pre-session student preparation or assignment

    B. Class observation

    C. Post-observation consultation: both parties share observations about the effectiveness of the session and possible improvements and directions for the future

    D. Written evaluation – see (below) Appendix: Format of Written Letter of Evaluation

  2. Online course or class session

    The “Peer Review Guide for Online Teaching at Penn State” has been approved for University use by the Penn State Online Coordinating Council. See Faculty Peer Review of Online Teaching at

  3. Blended or hybrid course or session

    “Peer Review Guide for Hybrid Courses at Penn State”:


The University Libraries Administration is responsible for ensuring that peer reviews are scheduled and conducted according to this guideline.


It is the responsibility of the University Libraries Administration to maintain a record of all required peer review letters. Peer reviewers distribute their letter of evaluation to the Office of the Dean, University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, with copies to the faculty member being reviewed and that person’s unit head.


Guideline UL-ING04 Faculty Use of SRTE [Best practices for formative evaluation of instruction by students, peers, and self]

APPENDIX - Format of Written Letter of Evaluation:

  • Instructor being reviewed
  • Peer conducting the review
         Date of letter
  • Course or class session being reviewed (course name and number)
  • Dates
         Initial consultation
         Class observation
         Post-class consultation
  • Course/class session supporting materials
         Research or course guides, websites, handouts, tutorials, etc.
         For credit instruction, also address enrollment, course objectives, syllabus (including grading and other course policies and requirements, compliance with university policies), assignments, exams
  •  Observation
         Content: relevance, appropriate level, organization, currency, etc.
         Delivery: pace, clarity, preparedness, effectiveness
         Method(s): lecture, active learning, group learning, student-centered, narrative or task-oriented, etc.
         Students: number in attendance, level of student engagement/interaction
  • Summary
         ​Effectiveness in meeting pedagogical objectives, strengths, suggestions for improvement, overall quality and effectiveness

Send the written letter of evaluation to:

Office of the Dean, University Libraries and Scholarly Communications
510 Paterno Library
University Park, PA  16802


Effective Date: May 2001
Date Approved: May 7, 2001 (Dean's Library Council)
Date Approved: February 28, 2001 (Library Faculty Organization)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • March 2016 - Revised 
  • August 2011 - Revised to reflect the new organizational structure; Clarification of where originals are to be filed
  • August 2007 - Revised; Instructional Programs to Library Learning Services
  • July 11, 2006 - Revised to reflect campus reorganization
  • May 7, 2001 - New guideline

Last Review Date:  March 2016