Peer Review of Teaching - Some Thoughts
adapted from a talk given at the University of Melbourne, 21 Nov 2008, by
on the occasion of the launch of the
ALTC handbook on Peer Review of Teaching.
Peer Review of Teaching: Some Pitfalls and Guidelines
We explore the factors that affect the successful
implementation of a process of peer review of teaching (PRoT).
To be effective, PRoT implementation must be undertaken in the
right climate and with the right leadership. For each factor,
we identify common pitfalls, and some guidelines to avoid
falling into them.
- do something useful, or, at least, avoid doing any harm!
- The PRoTinOzHigherEd handbook is "an exceptional piece
of work", but ...
- the challenges to good implementation are
(cf Monash UE Q8)
What is Peer Review of Teaching?
- teaching and PRoT are both means to an end - the end being
high quality deep learning.
- PRoT is difficult to implement in times of high stress
- innovations fall over with the arrival of new VCs, DVCs,
- need to clarify the purpose of PRoT - is it summative or
- one size fits all approaches do not work with
academics! (Tom Angelo's words "... is very dangerous
You cannot fix by analysis what you have bungled by design
- What is the biggest factor inhibiting PRoT at Monash?
- (discuss with your neighbour: write down two suggestions)
- Lack of Resources
- Lack of Motivation
- Lack of Time
- Lack of Reward
- Lack of Goodwill
- Fear of Consequences
- Lack of Leadership
Suggestions for PRoT
1. Choose Formative?
- make PRoT formative
- Could have some summative spin-offs, but don't rely upon this
- Whose teaching will be reviewed?
- starting with the wrong victims (PATS?)
- start with those whom you want others to follow
2. Participation Policy?
- What sort of participation policy should be used?
- What is the faculty culture towards PRoT?
- unenforceable or
counterproductive compliance regime (my emphasis)
- make attractive, beneficial
and intrinsically motivating
3. What to Review?
- what sort of things do we focus upon?
- teaching versus unit?
- reifying teaching as performance
- focus upon the inconsequential
- review the evidence of
alterable variables that are highly correlated with
3. What to Review? (cont)
- (from How College Affects Students,
E. T. Pascarella and P. T. Terenzini)
We found no evidence of student feedback
that affected teaching outcomes
are better at giving feedback than academics!
- It is
not what you see in the classroom that
- affects learning, or
- can be changed to improve learning.
4. Who reviews?
- Who are the reviewers?
- creating or intensifying conflict
- getting the wrong reviewers
- choose reviewers for expertise in feedback, to
review specific evidence (e.g., students for
teaching). It is all about gap analysis: where we
are, where do we want to be. If we don't want to be
elsewhere, we can ignore the feedback!
5. What form?
- What form will the process take?
- making it too costly
- making it too unsustainable
- making it too precious
- embed the process in existing processes, and KISS!
6. What Reports?
- What reporting will take place?
- incentivising posturing
- incentivising collusion
- disincentivising learning
- Make it low cost and low risk
7. What Follow-up?
- What type of follow up?
- no follow up
- feedback that does harm
- focus on feedback for learning
- Improvement requires
- risk taking