Peer Review of Teaching
Peer review of teaching is an opportunity to gather feedback from a trusted colleague in a supportive peer environment. With good structures, clear boundaries, guidance and support, the process will support and encourage the development of professional practice. Peer review can be done face to face, in blended and online environments through mechanisms such as observation, review of learning resources, assessment design, site administration and management.
Peer review can be used in a formative way to give and receive feedback on an aspect of online and blended teaching and learning practice. It's personal and often confidential, ensuring both privacy and trust are maintained. It encourages collegiality. When feedback is practical and detailed, it can be very helpful. For example, a colleague may question the ordering of slides in a presentation and ask whether the main points are given too soon. This can help you reconsider how to present a difficult concept.
Feedback can be used in a summative way for proof of professional learning and as evidence for important career processes such as recruitment and promotion.
To assist staff with designing their own peer reviews the Centre for Teaching and Learning provides a range of templates for use. Peer reviews that target specific areas of teaching are of most use in a feedback situation and the feedback templates provided below can be adapted to give the focus you want.
For the results of peer review to really mean something, they need to be conducted in an atmosphere of trust and respect. The relationship is critical, as giving and receiving feedback is an art. There needs to be good understanding between the reviewer and the reviewed. When giving feedback, balance positive and negative comments and consider the power of your words. People commonly focus more on negative feedback and can overlook anything else, so a planned approach to feedback that is structured and targeted will help guide that.
As a reviewee, listen carefully; take a step back and consider the advice being given. Remember, this isn't personal. It's about how to make your teaching better, from a colleague who is there to support and encourage you. A good mentor is a strong friend who walks alongside, helping you achieve your goals.
Peer Review is a key way for academics to both stimulate reflection on their teaching and to demonstrate the quality of their teaching. To support this activity, the CTL is currently facilitating SCU's second peer review pilot project.
The first pilot in 2014 led by the Centre for Teaching and Learning and funded through an OLT extension grant involved seven academics from the School of Business and Tourism. All participants reported they enjoyed the process and gained significant benefits from both being reviewed and reviewing another. As a result, this year a larger pilot also sponsored by the Centre for Teaching and Learning is taking place involving 18 academics from the Schools of Education, Law and Justice, Business and Tourism, and Health and Human Sciences.
The peer review style is not just forms and check boxes, and is instead based on a "learning conversation" framework. Working through the framework, each person controls their own review by deciding: Why be reviewed? Who will review? What will be reviewed? How will the review happen? How will the review outcomes be reported?
A Resource kit developed for the project provides a simple introduction to peer review of teaching in online and blended learning environments. Resources are meant for both those who will be reviewed and those doing the reviewing.
In the current project, participants have chosen aspects of their teaching to review that include learning in lectures, student engagement and learning online, ease and friendliness of the online experience in a foundation unit, developing group work online, and enhancing skills learning in Collaborate.
A workshop in early September 2015 will provide a forum for the peer review participants to frame recommendations about the continuing use of the conversational approach to peer review across the University.
Templates for Conducting a Peer Review
Several observation and feedback templates are provided below to support SCU staff to organise and participate in a peer review of teaching session in different contexts. These can be tailored to suit individual requirements. All templates are available as Word documents.
Office of Learning and Teaching Projects on Peer Review
- Peer review of online learning and teaching final report (2011)
- Embedding peer review of learning and teaching in e-learning and blended learning environments (2011)
- External peer review of teaching for promotion purposes final report (2009)
- Peer review of teaching in Australian higher education final report (2009)