Building Scholarly Teaching in Higher Education Through Peer Review of Teaching

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Brown Bag Research Series

Over recent decades peer review of teaching has become an important mechanism for improving the quality of teaching in higher education. While there is considerable international research on peer review of teaching outcomes, these are not widely reported within Australian universities. This presentation reports on a case study exploring 31 academics’ experiences of a peer review of teaching program across seven faculties in a large Australian research-intensive university. Using constructivist grounded theory and design thinking methodologies, data from semi-structured interviews were analysed using a Vygotskian theoretical perspective. The thematic synthesis revealed teaching development outcomes span organisational factors (including context, collegiality, and leadership), program factors (including framework, program design, and teaching practices), and individual factors (including prior experience and professional development needs). A post-thematic analysis using design thinking supported the unearthing of archetypes of scholarly teaching. From this, three enabling processes were developed: identifying opportunities to develop scholarly teaching; engaging in scholarly teaching discourse; and applying adjustments to teaching. These enabling processes are used to frame understandings of how scholarly teaching capabilities are developed. A central recommendation is that leaders of peer review of teaching ensure programs are designed to scaffold meaningful conversations about scholarly teaching. Over time these conversations become transformative to teaching quality. The result is a vestige of evidence-based knowledge, skills, and behaviours – or scholarly teaching capabilities. This strategy is foundational to our furthering a shared understanding of teaching quality.

Ms Alexandra Johnston, Associate Lecturer, WCLA
.  Alexandra co-coordinates the Tutoring in Higher Education WCLA program for tutors new to FBE. She is currently completing her PhD on academics’ experience of peer review of teaching in higher education. She has coordinated and taught subjects in organisational psychology, motivation, performance, and wellbeing. Alexandra’s research includes academic teaching development, peer review of teaching, teaching quality, scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning.