DR N. MPOFU-HAMADZIRIPI ACADEMY OF TEACHING AND LEARNING 21 March 2013 1. What is Peer Assessment? Peer assessment of teaching in universities involves academic colleagues giving and receiving feedback on their teaching practices (Harris et al. 2008). Peer assessment is a process that provides feedback to lecturers on teaching and learning. Lecture observation by a peer within the same faculty/school Peer assessment of teaching should be an objective assessment of a colleague’s teaching by a fellow colleague. It can be highly sensitive as it has a bearing on tenure, promotion or bonus 2. Who is a Peer Assessor? Oxford Dictionary of Current English (3rd edition): A peer is “a person of the same age, status, or ability as another specified person”. In academic circles, your peer is your equal, your contemporary or your fellow academics. In short, a peer is another academic in the same teaching department as you. 3. Attributes of a Peer Assessor a level of teaching expertise and judgement; a commitment to maintain confidentiality; sensitivity to the different contexts and career needs of others; the ability to maintain an open and friendly approach, focussed on the other person’s needs rather than their own expertise; and the ability to give honest feedback in constructive and positive ways. 4. Why Peer Assessment? 1. Has the enhancement of teaching and learning as its primary purpose. 2. Is a fundamental tool for the evaluation and development of teaching, complementing feedback collected from students. 3. Recognises university teachers’ shared professional responsibilities for monitoring and enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. 4. Acknowledges and capitalises on the educative expertise and judgement of university teachers in their fields. 5. Provides feedback that affirms good practice as well as suggests areas in which development might be helpful. (Lees et al. 2008) 5. Benefits of Peer Assessment • Feedback on teaching for developmental purposes; • Evidence for use in promotion and/or tenure; • Affirmation of good teaching practice; • Broader knowledge of the curriculum being taught by peers; • Insights into how colleagues teach and ideas for teaching e.g. innovative teaching methods; •Opportunities to develop skills in teaching. 5. Benefits of Peer Assessment (cont.) Observing someone else’s teaching can provide you with the opportunity to reflect on your own teaching and your role in the teaching-learning process. It can afford you the opportunity to improve your own teaching after observing how others do it. 6. Concerns of Staff to Peer Assessment It is not easy to have your colleague come and observe your lecture Fear that peer assessment may be a judgement of their teaching which may have negative implications for their tenure/promotion or general standing in their department Subjectivity – need for honesty Centralist tendency – fear to give divergent thoughts Organizational culture 7. Prerequisites for Effective Peer Assessment For peer assessment to be effective there is need for: an objective and constructive approach professionalism trust sensitivity to the reviewed collegiality confidentiality by the reviewer as well as the departmental Chairperson and Dean. 8. Processes of Peer Assessment Observing teaching Should be informed by criteria that encompass what constitutes good teaching practice, e.g. o Approaches to teaching that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn o Development of curricula and resources that reflect a command of the field o Respect and support for the development of students as individuals. i. ii. Writing feedback iii. Giving and receiving verbal and written feedback 9. The Feedback Process – For the Assessor Central to effective feedback is a focus on the reviewee’s professional development. Give feedback as soon as possible Feedback must be confidential Focus on the behavior/teaching of the person and not on the person Be specific Be aware of the balance between positive and negative feedback; focus on the positive aspects first Give the assessee an opportunity to say something about their lecture 9. The Feedback Process – For the Assessee The information from the assessor is for your benefit - take it in a positive way - avoid being defensive or offended by the assessor’s comments. 10. Points to Ponder for the Assessee What aspects of my teaching do I need to improve? What do I need to do to improve on this aspect? Who might be able to assist me? How will I know that I have improved? 11. Conclusion The spirit of the peer assessment should be developmental. That is to say, the purpose of the peer assessment process is to assist in the improvement of teaching and learning.