Improving instructional practice through peer observation and feedback: A review of the literature




coaching, performance, peer coaching, instructional improvement, professional development


The Every Student Succeeds Act provides an opportunity for policymakers and researchers to revisit what is known about effective teacher evaluation practices to make better-informed decisions moving forward. Principals—responsible for implementing new teacher evaluation reforms and accommodating the demands to spend more time observing and providing feedback to teachers—are overworked. They have little time to provide high-quality feedback, and may lack important content-based expertise. With these considerations in mind, we explore the role of peer observation and feedback as a vehicle to move beyond high-stakes evaluation and re-center efforts on instructional improvement. Our systematic review of extant literature (n = 38 documents, 92% peer-reviewed empirical articles) indicates that peer observation and feedback is a promising practice for instructional improvement, but one that lacks sufficient evidence. Policy, thus, can encourage innovation and research around this practice so that peer observation and feedback models can be piloted and the most effective established, as well as strategies to tackle the biggest barriers schools, particularly U.S. schools face in implementing such a practice—time. 


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Author Biographies

Brady L. Ridge, Utah State University

Brady Ridge is a doctoral student in instructional leadership at Utah State University. His research interests focus on principal feedback and teacher self-efficacy.

Alyson L. Lavigne, Utah State University

Alyson Lavigne is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Leadership at Utah State University. Using her training as an educational psychologist and classroom researcher, her work explores teacher supervision, evaluation, and retention, and student, teacher, and leader dynamics and practices, particularly in schools that serve linguistically and culturally diverse learners. 




How to Cite

Ridge, B. L., & Lavigne, A. L. (2020). Improving instructional practice through peer observation and feedback: A review of the literature. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28, 61.



Policies and Practices of Promise in Teacher Evaluation