The following tips are designed to help department chairs acquire appropriate peer review of teaching letters for faculty seeking promotion and/or tenure.
Department chairs must ensure that the Teaching section of the dossier contains at least two letters from senior faculty members (letters from assistant professors are not permitted) in the department, attesting to the teaching effectiveness of the candidate during the period of time that is under review. AC-23 requires peer evaluation of teaching (AC-23 Administrative Guidelines, Section II.C.1).
Most often, peer assessments of teaching are based on direct observation of the candidate’s teaching and involve classroom visitation, but they also may be based on review of program and course development, syllabi, educational innovations, medical student and graduate student advising, clinical supervision, supervision of MSR projects, etc., which have occurred during the period under review.
The entire peer review letters (not a summary or selected sections) should be included in the dossier.
- Peer review of teaching letters are required for all candidates undergoing review for promotion or tenure, including those undergoing provisional tenure reviews.
- The letters must be solicited by the department chair (not the candidate) and should be addressed to the department chair.
- These letters should address only teaching and should not discuss the other mission areas in which a candidate participates; the letters should not make a recommendation on promotion and/or tenure.
- Associate and full professors are considered to be “senior” faculty members and are eligible to provide these letters.
- For candidates whose teaching is mainly outside the home department, the department chair may solicit a letter from a senior faculty member in another department.
- Letters of thanks or appreciation for a lecture or course are not allowed in the dossier (see AC-23 Administrative Guidelines III.C.10).
- The letters are placed in the Teaching section of the dossier and must be in the dossier when the candidate reviews and signs off on it.
- Chairs who provide a template to the reviewers should not include evaluative language in the template. Chairs should instruct the evaluators to provide their own evaluation of the candidate’s performance.