Peer observation for alternate delivery models

Peer Observation for Alternate Delivery Models

The Seven Principles of Good Practice (Sorensen and Baylen, 2009) and the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model (Garrison et al., 2000) are extensively used in peer observations of online teaching. 

Seven Principles of Good Practice

We recommend keeping these principles in mind and using them, in conjunction with our TEF dimensions and indicators, to guide a peer observation of online teaching. 

Seven Principles of Good Teaching
1. Encourage faculty/student communication and evidence of strong instructor presence.
2. Build learning community among students.
3. Engage students in active learning.
4. Assessment and instructor feedback is prompt and meaningful.
5. Pace content, assignments and learning activities.
6. Communicate expectations for the course that are reasonable and clear.
7. Foster an inclusive learning environment.

Adapted from: Thompson Rivers University, Peer Review of Online Teaching Guidelines 

Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI)

Many of you completed the Facilitating Online Learning (FOL) micro credential after the Covid-19 disruption in the Spring of 2020 and will be familiar with the three components of social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence that are described on the Community of Inquiry website. 

A strong community of learners and a positive learning experience for students are achieved when all the following are included in your course design and instructional strategies: Instructor-Learner (teaching presence), Learner-Learner (social presence) and Learner-Content (cognitive presence). 


The Community of Inquiry Website provides the following definitions: 

Social presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities” (Garrison, 2009, p. 352).  

Teaching Presence is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). 

Cognitive Presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001). 

Peer Observation Template

We have provided a peer observation template to support you in gathering feedback in three key areas that build on the Community of Inquiry model in your online teaching practice.  

  1. Instructor presence and communication 
  2. Engagement 
  3. Assessment and feedback 

Specific teaching, social and cognitive presence examples in Canvas, using both asynchronous and synchronous tools, can be found in Module 4 of the Facilitating Online Learning (FOL) micro-credential. 


Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., Archer, W. (2001). Assessing Teaching presence in a Computer Conference Environment. Journal of asynchronous learning networks, 5(2), 1-17.  

Community of Inquiry Website. (n.d.). CoI framework.  

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education model. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.  

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2001). Critical Thinking, Cognitive Presence, and Computer Conferencing in Distance Education. American Journal of Distance Education. 

Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of inquiry in online learning: Social, teaching and cognitive presence. In C. Howard et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distance and online learning (2nd ed., pp. 352-355).  Hershey, PA: IGI Global.  

Rourke, L., Anderson, T. Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing social presence in asynchronous, text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(3), 51-70.  

Sorensen, C. K., & Baylen, D. M. (2009). Learning online: Adapting the seven principles of good practice to a web-based instructional environment. In A. Orellana, T. L. Hudgins, & M. Samonson (Eds.), The perfect online course: Best practices for designing and teaching (pp. 69-86). Charlotte, NY: Information Age Publishing. 

Thompson Rivers University, (n.d.). Peer Review of Teaching and Instructional Support. Peer Review of Teaching and Instructional Support – CELT – Thompson Rivers University.