Developing a culture to support peer review of teaching in higher education

Barnard, Alan, Nash, Robyn E., McEvoy, Kathleen, Shannon, Susan, Rochester, Suzanne, Waters, Cheryl, & Bolt, Susan (2013) Developing a culture to support peer review of teaching in higher education. In International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) 2013 : Critical Transitions In Teaching And Learning, 2-5 October 2013, Raleigh Convention Center, North Carolina.


This presentation addresses issues related to leadership, academic development and scholarship of teaching and learning, and highlights research funded by the Australian Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) designed to embed and sustain peer review of teaching within the culture of 5 Australian universities: Queensland University of Technology, University of Technology, Sydney, University of Adelaide, Curtin University, and Charles Darwin University. Peer review of teaching in higher education will be emphasised as a professional process for providing feedback on teaching and learning practice, which if sustained, can become an effective ongoing strategy for academic development (Barnard et al, 2011; Bell, 2005; Bolt and Atkinson, 2010; McGill & Beaty 2001, 1992; Kemmis & McTaggart, 2000). The research affirms that using developmental peer review models (Barnard et al, 2011; D'Andrea, 2002; Hammersley-Fletcher & Orsmond, 2004) can bring about successful implementation, especially when implemented within a distributive leadership framework (Spillane & Healey, 2010).

The project’s aims and objectives were to develop leadership capacity and integrate peer review as a cultural practice in higher education. The research design was a two stage inquiry process over 2 years. The project began in July 2011 and encompassed a development and pilot phase followed by a cascade phase with questionnaire and focus group evaluation processes to support ongoing improvement and measures of outcome. Leadership development activities included locally delivered workshops complemented by the identification and support of champions. To optimise long term sustainability, the project was implemented through existing learning and teaching structures and processes within the respective partner universities. Research outcomes highlight the fundamentals of peer review of teaching and the broader contextual elements of integration, leadership and development, expressed as a conceptual model for embedding peer review of teaching within higher education. The research opens a communicative space about introduction of peer review that goes further than simply espousing its worth and introduction. The conceptual model highlights the importance of development of distributive leadership capacity, integration of policies and processes, and understanding the values, beliefs, assumptions and behaviors embedded in an organizational culture.

The presentation overviews empirical findings that demonstrate progress to advance peer review requires an ‘across-the-board’ commitment to embed change, and inherently demands a process that co-creates connection across colleagues, discipline groups, and the university sector. Progress toward peer review of teaching as a cultural phenomenon can be achieved and has advantages for academic staff, scholarship, teaching evaluation and an organisation, if attention is given to strategies that influence the contexts and cultures of teaching practice. Peer review as a strategy to develop excellence in teaching is considered from a holistic perspective that by necessity encompasses all elements of an educational environment and has a focus on scholarship of teaching. The work is ongoing and has implication for policy, research, teaching development and student outcomes, and has potential application world-wide.

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ID Code: 69543
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: peer review, teaching culture, culture change, culture development, pedagogy development, leadership, higher education
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development (130202)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 31 Mar 2014 01:30
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2017 16:23

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