The rationale for peer review and the implications

Peer review is important because it enables the process of evaluation in the learning process. It is a familiar process for academics who are actively publishing research papers and applying for grants. It is also common practice as a tool to enhance the quality of teaching. For the purposes of peer review of teaching, we can include all activities that affect the students’ learning experiences, for example, course design, learning resources, learning activities, assessment tasks, and the management of the learning environment.

There are many different ways to do a peer review, from formal evaluation systems to casual reflective conversations with colleagues. It is helpful to answer these four key questions before you start a peer review process (Sachs & Parsell, 2013).

Why are you engaging in peer review and what is it that you want to achieve?

  • You want help with a particular issue or challenge in your teaching
  • You want feedback to identify issues that are unknown to you
  • You want to engage with your colleagues in discussions about teaching
  • You want to get promoted

What aspect of teaching is to be the focus of your peer review?

  • Face-to-face classroom teaching in lectures, tutorials, workshops or laboratories
  • Teaching in an online learning environment
  • Components of teaching such as teaching materials, assessment tasks, marking, etc.

Who will be the reviewer?

  • Should it be someone in your discipline?
  • Should it be someone at your level of appointment?
  • Should it be someone who has similar teaching practices to you?
  • Should it be a good friend?

How will the actual process of review take place?

  • What is the expected degree of formality?
  • What is the reviewer is expected to do?
  • How will the review process be documented?

Reflection point

Academics in this video talk about their experiences of peer review.

As you watch the video, consider your answers to these questions:

  • Have you ever participated in any form of peer review? How did you respond to the process?
  • How can peer review be organised to promote positive learning experiences?

References

Sachs, J., & Parsell, M. (2013). Social, communicative and interpersonal leadership in the context of peer review. Sydney, New South Wales.

Want to know more?

If you would like to more about this topic of peer review there are additional resources listed in the Want to know more.pdf document for this step.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney