Peer review: there's an app for that

Fall 2016

How do you improve the student experience? The Wellington School (Ohio) believes the answer is through a better-informed and improved classroom dynamic. And school leaders believe they have created a tool to do just that.

In 2013, John Kruzan, Wellington’s director of technology, and Jeff Terwin, head of upper school, developed PeerView, a web-based app that facilitates real-time feedback to teachers. Kruzan developed this dynamic tool based on research that demonstrates that in a range of industries, frequent performance reviews combined with timely feedback is the most effective way to improve productivity and to shift workplace culture.

In schools, PeerView provides teachers with a wealth of real-time information they can use to make adjustments to their approach. Teachers use their mobile devices to set up observations of themselves, observe and review other teachers, and view the feedback they receive. The observing teacher collects as much data as possible: the room layout and where it’s located, what the teacher is doing (i.e., lecture, class activity), where the teacher is standing, if technology is being used, and the level of student engagement. There’s also opportunity to create custom questions and provide general notes. The feedback is then collected in a database and the teacher being observed is provided with real-time, easy-to-digest analytics.

This past spring semester, each upper school teacher at Wellington had to conduct 10 brief (5- to 10-minute) classroom visits to observe his or her peers. They discovered that not only does the teacher benefit from the feedback, but the level of innovative teaching and student engagement increased. The entire process helped create a culture of peer feedback.

“PeerView has really elevated our teaching by helping teachers learn from one another and easily share feedback and new ideas,” Terwin explains.

Wellington hopes to make the app available to schools that have expressed interest in it.