Summative Peer Review of Teaching allows teaching staff who apply for academic promotion or UNSW Awards for Teaching (Excellent Teachers) to provide direct evidence of their teaching practice to their respective committees.
If you are also a Summative Peer Reviewer of Teaching and have some tips to share, we'd love to hear from you! Contact us
What inspired you to become a peer reviewer?
I was motivated to become a peer reviewer both because I was curious to learn how teachers in other Faculties across the university taught (I am in Law) and because I supported the initiative to have a university wide-Peer Review scheme, given the crucial message it sent about the importance of good teaching to this institution.
What have you learned from being a reviewer?
Many things! Primarily that teaching is really quite different in different parts of the university and that ‘excellent teaching’ might mean something similar at a level of generality and abstraction but that once you start observing the realities of teaching in different schools and faculties then diversity reigns. This isn’t really surprising, given how different our respective disciplines are and how important that disciplinary knowledge and practice is to good, researched teaching – and of course the students can be radically different as well. But one of the things that surprises me nonetheless, and that has been the thing I have most enjoyed about being a peer reviewer, is that I learn something new about teaching every time I review an engineer, a scientist, or a medical scientist, even though I would be the last person to attempt to teach these topic
What advice would you give to a first-time reviewer?
My advice to a first-time reviewer would be to try to use the pre-observation meeting to ensure that the person you are reviewing has the best chance of explaining to you how they do things in their particular field, and how that might translate (or not) to your own field. Try to be generous in your engagement in other peoples’ teaching and take it as an opportunity to learn something about your own teaching. You will!
What advice would you give a reviewee?
I like to tell the people I am reviewing that I am aware that observing them for an hour is not a conclusive judgment about their worth as a teacher, let alone an academic or a person (I find academics have a predisposition to over-internalise professional judgments). Rather, the peer review is a brief sample of their teaching and it needs to be understood in a wider context of contributions and achievements. If I could give any advice to colleagues contemplating being peer reviewed, it would be to participate fully in your school or faculty formative peer review scheme to get accustomed to reviewing and being reviewed. If your school or faculty doesn’t maintain such a scheme, think about trying to implement one and/or swap classes with a colleague and ask for some informal feedback.