The University believes that the quality of the student learning experience can be enhanced through the provision of a structured developmental context for staff to reflect on their professional practice, share good practice and identify areas for further development for individuals and for departments.
This aim is articulated through a range of enhancement and support activities, designed to provide staff with the opportunity to share good practice, discuss their approaches to teaching with colleagues. The principal value of the scheme is in the discussion of practice which results from the observation of a particular activity, and the recognition that reviewing is as valuable as being reviewed.
The peer* support activity should focus on reviewing the extent to which practice aligns with the Strategy for Learning, Teaching and Assessment and the Academic Vision.
*The term ‘Peer’ is the broadest definition to include all academic colleagues (including HODs).
All members of academic and senior staff involved with teaching are expected to participate in peer observation and support activity and be involved in considering their own practice with colleagues as well as in discussing the practice of others. All staff will have access to a range of feedback throughout the year which will contribute to their professional and academic development and facilitate the setting of appropriate targets. This policy is designed to normalise the process of observation as part of professional activity and enhancement and is therefore not simply a peer observation model, but broadened to encompass review activities with all colleagues engaged in teaching.
The purpose and structure of the faculty strategy must be clear and supported by appropriate resources and staff development opportunities.
Within the general framework of the policy, faculties may adapt the core requirements to suit their own context and priorities.
Outcomes of observation may be shared with appropriate individuals on a confidential basis.
A faculty report summarising activity in peer observation and support, and the planning outcomes that result, should be discussed termly/annually by the Faculty Academic Quality and Standards Committee and information used by Heads of Department, Associate Deans and Head of CELT to plan staff development.
The policy is designed to support the provision of evidence for recognition claims. (see the PSFchecklist)
The following video follows a member of staff, Rachel Forsyth from CELT, through the observation procedure, showing the pre-observation briefing, the observation itself and the subsequent discussion between reviewer and participant. Rachel has also made available for download her reflection on the observation and the session plan. Rachel says "this example is just an honest account of what happened in a scheduled session which happened to be the only one my observer and the film producer could manage. I’ve shared it to try to demystify peer observations and to show the benefit to both the observer and to the person being observed. It’s not intended to be a perfect session plan, session, or reflection."
This film features a different observation, of Dr Paul Smith, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry & Environmental Science delivering a lecture. It also shows the pre-observation discussion, part of the taught session, followed by verbal feedback.
Academic practice enhancement scheme proformas:
Proforma 1: Record of Observation - to be completed by both participants and returned to the Departmental or Faculty co-ordinator
Enhancement activities related to observation should align with the principles of the MMU Strategy for Learning, Teaching and Assessment
In this video David Leathlean and Haleh Moravej, both lecturers in Hollings faculty, MMU, talk about their experience of collaborating together and their thoughts on peer observation.