Evaluations of teaching should draw on multiple sources including participating with colleagues in peer reviewing teaching practices.
Peer reviews provide a different perspective to student feedback and teacher evaluations in identifying teaching strength and weakness for both the observer and the academic staff member being observed. Details about the nature of peer reviews are discussed below.
What is the purpose of peer review?
Peer review can be implemented formatively – to provide feedback for improvement – or summatively – to provide evidence for performance development and appraisal or promotion.
Whose teaching will be reviewed?
Academic staff may decide they wish to have a peer review and seek support from a colleague or their line manager to identify a reviewer. Conducting a peer review may also be a decision made at the department level. Peer reviews are applicable and useful for all teaching staff, especially staff teaching a new course or teaching into a course for the first time, new staff, or staff seeking evidence for promotion.
Who will conduct the review?
Peer reviews can be undertaken by any peer, however, using a reviewer from outside your discipline area can be beneficial for providing a more objective peer review. Anyone conducting a peer review should be familiar with the agreed process and a peer review tool so that they are best placed to provide colleagues with meaningful, constructive feedback.
What should be included in the review?
Peer reviews can include classroom observation/s, a review of course design, course content, teaching materials, Akoraka | Learn course page, student work, or any other aspect of the course and its delivery. A decision should be made about what is going to be included prior to the commencement of the peer review.
Regardless of what is included, there are three basic steps to a peer review:
- Preliminary activities – To provide some context for the review, reviewers should spend time reviewing course material including the course outline and Akoraka | Learn course page and talking to the reviewee about their teaching and learning goals.
- The peer review – The review is undertaken using an agreed peer review tool. Reviewers may need to undertake more than one classroom observation. Detailed notes should be taken to allow the reviewer to cite specific examples in their feedback.
- Follow-up activities – A debrief, or follow-up discussion, should be conducted by the reviewer as soon as possible in the week following the classroom observation. Remember that peer review should provide meaningful, constructive feedback. Depending on the purpose of the peer review, a formal report may also be prepared. The reviewer should try to limit feedback to a few key areas that will make the most impact. It is a good idea for the reviewee to spend some time self-reflecting on the peer review and documenting areas for improvement and the steps to be taken.
What tool should be used?
There are a variety of peer review tools that can be adapted to suit your discipline and the purpose of your peer review. Aim to focus on the use of qualitative feedback rather than ratings in your chosen tool.