Peer Teaching Consulting

What is Peer Teaching Consulting?

Peer Teaching Consulting is an important way that the Center for Faculty Development supports teaching.  Consulting services are free, confidential, and intended to assist faculty who want to strengthen and improve their teaching skills.

As we plan for the 2020-2021 academic year, many of us may be teaching in new formats or covering challenging topics.  Peer teaching consultants can be a valuable resource.  With a peer teaching consultant, you can talk through possible course design strategies or ways to address virtual classroom dynamics.  We can also talk through strategies for navigating difficult conversations within an academic context.

Consultations are always initiated by the faculty member and are completely confidential.  This means that everything we discuss, every document you share with us, and everything we observe in your class – including that fact that we are working with you – is confidential.

To set up a consultation or learn more about the consulting process, email Angela High-Pippert, Coordinator of the Peer Teaching Consulting Program (

Peer teaching consultants are available for one-on-one consultations with all faculty members on a range of teaching-related issues.  Faculty may choose what kind of consultation they would find most useful, ranging from a highly-targeted, short-term consultation that addresses specific teaching goals to a more comprehensive overall assessment.  The extent of our involvement is up to you.

Peer Teaching Consulting is useful for faculty who are trying something new in their classes, puzzled by a classroom dynamic, or interested in talking over a new teaching and learning technique.

Our peer teaching consultants can serve as a sounding board, help brainstorm options, and identify useful resources. We can also talk through classroom management issues, offer feedback on syllabi and assignments, and assist you in interpreting IDEA forms.

Faculty can determine the goal and nature of the process from a variety of services:

  • Teaching Tune-Up:  Are you feeling the need to rejuvenate a course or simply get some feedback?  A peer teaching consultant will meet with you to review your syllabus, discuss assignments, or conduct a classroom observation. We can all benefit from having a fresh set of eyes look over our teaching process.
  • In-depth Consultation: Perhaps you’re facing some challenges while teaching a new course or revising an established one, or you are facing some difficult classroom dynamics.  A peer teaching consultant can provide a classroom observation or a Small Group Instructional Diagnosis to provide additional perspective on what is happening in your classroom.  

What is involved with a Classroom Observation? 

A classroom observation should help you assess whether you are meeting your goals for a particular course -- whether what you want to happen in a class is actually happening.  Another set of eyes and ears in the room can help identify how students are responding to different aspects of the course.   A peer teaching consultant may note what you're doing to help further your goals for a class, as well as some missed opportunities to meet particular objectives.  A classroom observation is an opportunity for you to see your classroom from another perspective.  

Peer teaching consultants approach classroom observation as a formative, rather than summative, activity.  Our purpose is to give feedback and to inspire reflection rather than to offer judgment or evaluation.

After meeting with you to learn more about your course and any particular concerns you have, a peer teaching consultant will make arrangements with you to attend a class session.  The consultant will take detailed notes as to what is happening in class and students’ reactions to it, and then go over these notes with you at a follow-up discussion. The focus is on identifying which classroom practices appear to be supporting your goals and brainstorming additional strategies for meeting your particular objectives. 

What is involved with a Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID)?

A Small Group Instructional Diagnosis provides information about your class from another vantage point – students.  This process analyzes how a class is going by generating detailed, qualitative feedback from students.

With a SGID, a trained peer teaching consultant facilitates this process of collecting student feedback for about an hour of class time.  You introduce the consultant to your class, leave the room, and he or she gathers feedback in a structured manner.   Students first write individually about what they like and dislike most about the class, and what improvements they would suggest for you as the teacher and for themselves as learners.  Next, they discuss their ideas in small groups and as a class, with the entire class coming to a consensus on the most important points.  The consultant then writes up a summary of the SGID and discusses the feedback with you. 

A SGID can provide a rich source of student feedback while your semester is still running.  As such, a SGID is most useful if conducted no later than the ninth week of the semester.