From peer observation of teaching to peer-supported review Elizabeth Staddon Hilaire Graham Learning and Teaching
Quality assurance and qualityenhancement Quality Assurance Agency (QAA): quality assurance and quality enhancement. Systematic peer observation of teaching encouraged as a ‘quality enhancement’ measure. Peer observation has become commonplace within the HE sector.
Recognised problems with peerobservation of teaching Question of who is qualified to judge good teaching. Token engagement /compliance with university policy rather than genuine interest in ‘enhancement’. Focus on teaching is too narrow. Implementation is patchy.
Models of peer observation Evaluative – judges quality of teaching. Developmental – a more experienced or knowledgeable colleague reviews a less experienced colleague. Collaborative – peers engage in dialogue to enhance teaching and understanding of student learning.
Peer-supported review Aims to facilitate a non-judgemental dialogue where staff feel safe to reflect on their practice and values. Intended as a collaborative learning process.
Ten guiding principles (1) Respects professional autonomy and gives control over the process to the reviewee. Requires reviewee to undertake self- evaluation through reflection. Developmental in its aim to support peer learning among colleagues (not judgemental).
Ten guiding principles (2) Requires colleagues to work together as equals. Intended to be a constructive process to improve professional practice and students’ experience of studying. Proceeds through conversation, examination of relevant documents and, in some cases, observation.
Ten guiding principles (3) A scholarly process, using available evidence and referencing existing knowledge. Typically involves pairs, but could involve teaching teams, learning sets, or learning communities. Consistent with good professional practice. Practicable within working hours and not an excessive burden in terms of time.
A theoretical perspective: Wenger’scommunities of practice Social learning theory. Communities of practice characterised by mutual engagement, joint engagement and shared repertoire; defined by what they do rather than homogeneity. We all belong to several communities of practice – past and present and full and peripheral members. Meaning is negotiated through mix of participation and reification.
Communities of practice andindividual identity Identity is characterised as: • Negotiated experience • Community membership • Learning trajectory • Nexus of multi-membership
Identity and peer-supportedreview Focus on individual identity in relation to community accountability. Positive forum for negotiating meaning. Opportunity to reflect on membership. Opportunity to reflect on trajectory – what does and doesn’t matter, and what contributes to our identity and what remains marginal. Connects local ways of belonging to broader discourses (through scholarship).
Our identities have trajectories:they are going somewhere Our identities ‘provide a context in which to determine what, among all the things that are potentially significant, actually becomes significant learning. A sense of trajectory gives us ways of sorting out what matters and what does not, what contributes to our identity and what remains marginal.’ (p.155).
Reviewer and reviewee ‘One of the risks in undertaking PS-R is that staff will simply choose a peer reviewer who will do the ‘back-patting’ without providing the ‘challenge’. In these circumstances little will be learned by either party to the process. For the dialogue to be productive and to open up new possibilities for the staff member being reviewed, the key requirement of the peer reviewer/critical friend is that he or she can ask the right questions and move the conversation on.’ (Gosling 2009)
Participation all academic staff and staff including senior managers, and part-time staff to be given opportunities to participate, paired or a group process, within or between course teams or schools, can be reciprocal review
Process Deciding upon an activity for review, often formulated as a question or problem that requires investigation. Peer-review activity, which might also include collecting information or research literature to inform the process. Reflective activity in which the reviewer supports the reviewee in critical evaluation of his or her practice.
Ways of questioning Categories: open-closed and recall- thought Pitch Pauses Probes Sequencing Active listening
Recording A minimum of paperwork necessary to record completed peer- supported review activity and topic explored for quality assurance audit, but outcomes of the peer process need not be recorded, And record stored in Faculty offices.
Outcomes peer-supported review activity might lead participants to identify further professional development needs or to identify future projects or opportunities for sharing practice with colleagues, and May be discussed at PDR …
References Gosling, D. and Mason O’Connor, K. (2009) Beyond the Peer Observation of Teaching, SEDA Paper 124. Wenger, E. (1998) Comunities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge University Press. Brown, G. and Atkins, M. (1988) Effective Teaching in Higher Education, Routledge.