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, as determined by the evidence of meeting learning outcomes through content delivery and course materials.


Peer review is required for University Libraries faculty members whose core responsibilities include instruction, such as credit-bearing, course-related instruction or workshops, and/or who document instruction of these types in their Faculty Activity Report (annual evaluation) or dossier for promotion or tenure. Supervisors should alert their new hires to this expectation. To determine if this guideline applies to your position, please consult with your supervisor and Associate Dean. Be aware that positions evolve over time, and new responsibilities can be addressed in one or more areas of the dossier by updating the statement of core responsibilities and by providing explanations in the narrative, librarianship section, and/or peer evaluation letter.


The University Faculty Senate Committee On Faculty Affairs, Educational Equity and Campus Environment, and Intra-University Relations released a report in 2021 making recommendations on the evaluation of teaching at Penn State. One of the sections focused on peer review of instruction and recommended that “the frequency of peer evaluations varies across units but should occur no less than every five years and no more than once per academic year.”

  1. Credit instruction (in which a University Libraries faculty member is the instructor of record of a course taught for academic credit) and other instruction (course-related and non-credit instruction such as workshops, etc.)

    a. Provisional tenure years:  two peer reviews in the first four academic years and two more peer reviews in the next two academic years prior to submitting dossier for review
    b. Tenured: one review every two academic years
    c. Non-Tenure Line: two peer reviews in the first four academic years and two more peer reviews in the fifth and sixth academic years; one review every two academic years in subsequent years


Taking into consideration factors such as changing demands for instruction, availability of reviewers, and other external factors, University Libraries faculty members who do credit instruction and non-credit or course-related instruction must balance credit and non-credit or course-related instruction peer reviews in order to provide a full picture of the scope of their instruction.

Those who wish to complete additional peer reviews (i.e., one peer review per year) in order to inform and support their professional development are encouraged to do so in consultation with their supervisor and mentor. Peer reviews should occur no more than once per year.


Eligibility: reviews may be conducted by any full-time faculty member at Penn State or a Penn State employee whose primary responsibility is the delivery of instruction.

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


  1. Resident or remote synchronous credit-bearing course, course-related instruction, or workshop
    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. Credit-bearing online course
    a. The “Peer Review Guide for Online Teaching at Penn State” has been approved for University use by the Penn State Online Coordinating Council. See the Faculty Peer Review of Online Teaching.
  3. Credit-bearing blended or hybrid course
    a. Peer Review Guide for Hybrid Courses at Penn State.


Faculty, their unit heads, and mentor(s) as applicable are responsible for ensuring that peer reviews are scheduled and conducted according to this guideline. The University Libraries Administration and Library Faculty Organization will assist in promoting deadlines and sharing resources to facilitate the timely completion of reviews.


It is the responsibility of the faculty under review to maintain a record of all required peer review letters and to ensure the letters are provided to University Libraries Administration for appropriate inclusion in the dossier. Only the review letter should be submitted to the Dean’s Administrative office and included in the dossier. Supplemental review materials may be retained in personal files. Faculty members under review should retain completed reviews throughout specified review periods, such as provisional tenure periods, extended tenure review periods, and promotions; they may be retained longer at the discretion of the faculty member. 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. Send the written letter of evaluation as an attachment to:, copying the faculty under review and their 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

Supplemental Documents:

These documents are for the informative benefit of those under review and those conducting reviews. They should not be submitted with the final peer review letter.

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):

  • May 2023 - Revised to reflect legislation passed by the Library Faculty Organization regarding the updated frequency of peer review of instruction - credit, course-related, and non-credit. This revision becomes effective July 1, 2023.
  • September 2022 - Corrected typo
  • August 2021 - Revised "Fixed-Term" to "Non-Tenure Track" to comply with suggested language from the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Office.
  • March 2021 - Revised
  • 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:  May 2023