Peer Review of Teaching – Update

Agnes Bosanquet provides an update on Peer Review of Teaching and some of the ideas and issues that Macquarie’s community will need to consider. She is currently leading the Peer Review of Teaching initiative at the Faculty of Human Sciences.

A few weeks ago, I attended a peer review of assessment workshop at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Peer review of teaching can take many different forms, of which classroom observation is probably the most well-known one. However, it also encompasses online teaching and teaching related activities, such as revision of teaching materials, development of units, writing of assessment tasks, mapping program learning outcomes, and all other aspects of teaching that impact the student learning experience. 

The revised Higher Education Standards Framework (2015) from January 1st 2017 requires all higher education institutions to undertake external referencing and/or peer review of all aspects of academic programs, from approval to curriculum design to delivery, to assure that quality and standards are being upheld.

If you would like to know more about Peer Review, visit https://peerreviewofteaching.net/.

The focus of the workshop was on reviewing assessment, rather than curriculum or teaching more broadly, with a particular emphasis on external referencing or benchmarking, using TEQSA’s definition (click on the image below to enlarge):

In a separate Teche post, Lilia Mantai has called for participants to join a user group for the online Peer Review Portal tool. As an example, the Faculty of Human Sciences  is setting up a working party with representatives from each Department to develop, implement and evaluate peer review across their Faculty. An objective of their  ‘Learning 2020’ plan is to introduce a Faculty-wide Peer Review of Teaching program.

Here is what a peer review of teaching ‘pack’ to share with colleagues might contain (click on image below to enlarge):

Some interesting ideas emerged from the workshop including the idea of consensus moderation (click on image below to enlarge):

Cathy Rytmeister from the Learning Innovation Hub raised some important points about this idea:

The key problem I see with the “consensus moderation” approach is that a large number of the people responsible for the actual act of assessment – applying judgment about student performance against criteria/standards/whatever – are excluded from the process because they are employed as casual staff members. So you can moderate assessment specifications by consensus but not the assessment of student fulfilment of them.”

This is the key challenge of peer review.  The timeline of “core academic activity” related to peer review of assessment does not take into account the number of staff, including casuals, involved in assessment.

The Peer Review working parties will be grappling with this and other thorny issues. Watch this space.

Written by Agnes Bosanquet, Senior Teaching Fellow.

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