Original Publication
Open Access

Peer Observation of Teaching Handbook

Published: April 12, 2012 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9150

Included in this publication:

  • Instructor's Guide.doc
  • Peer Observation Handbook.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


This resource is a handbook designed to help individuals prepare for and conduct an effective teaching observation and feedback session. The handbook presents 10 steps that observers can follow to ensure they identify critical instructional moments during the teaching encounter and then engage in a mutual exchange of ideas with their colleagues at the conclusion of the session. It also suggests ways to avoid common peer observation pitfalls and describes the benefits of partaking in an observation pairing or buddy system. A number of references and sample peer observation of teaching forms are included at the end of the handbook. Creation of this resource originated from the need to translate the theory of peer observation into actual practice. While there have been recent calls from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for regularly scheduled feedback to medical education program faculty members about their clinical teaching abilities, there is little guidance on how that feedback should be collected and delivered. To provide individualized instructional development and feedback to the faculty members at our institution, we created the Peer Observation of Teaching Handbook for faculty members to follow in order to conduct effective teaching observations that would inform meaningful feedback to their peers. After each peer teaching observation, we send a brief feedback form to both the observer and the faculty member to collect comments and suggestions about the peer observation of teaching experience. Quantitative and qualitative feedback collected from the forms has been positive.

Educational Objectives

By using this resource, faculty should be able to:

  1. Identify effective ways to conduct teaching observations in order to provide peer faculty members with meaningful feedback intended to improve their teaching performances.
  2. Assist peer faculty members in identifying key teaching methods and skills that they would like to enhance or further develop.
  3. Provide effective feedback to peer faculty members about their teaching in a manner in which peers feel supported and motivated to improve.
  4. Engage in an open exchange of best teaching practices in a mutually respectful and supportive manner.

Author Information

  • Lori R. Newman, MEd: Harvard Medical School
  • David H. Roberts, MD: Shapiro Institute for Education and Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Richard M. Schwartzstein, MD: Shapiro Institute for Education and Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

None to report.

None to report.


Newman L, Roberts D, Schwartzstein R. Peer observation of teaching handbook. MedEdPORTAL. 2012;8:9150. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9150