The Peer Review Community of Practice (PR CoP) met at the end of February and had a lively discussion about the various practices and methods that fit under the umbrella of ‘peer review’ in relation to teaching and curriculum. We considered a number of activities that could be categorised as “peer review” in its broadest sense, including:

All of these can be (and are) used for both summative and formative purposes, although some lend themselves more effectively to one than the other. As such, they inform both quality assurance and quality enhancement at a number of levels – individual, unit, program and institution.

These diverse approaches can be used for multiple purposes – but most approaches are of optimum use when applied to the purpose for which they were designed (as anyone who has tried to hammer a nail with a shoe – or indeed, anyone who has tried to wear a hammer on their foot – would know!). One of the objections staff often raise in relation to peer observation/review is the fear that the results might be used for purposes for which they were not designed. That is, they worry about formative feedback from peer observation being used in performance review, when the peer observation process has been designed and used as a collegial conversation and professional learning experience.

This conflation of formative and summative purposes and the lack of clear expectations of staff in relation to “peer review” of teaching appears to be an obstacle to staff engagement in these activities. To address this issue, and because we believe that peer-based processes potentially offer rich professional learning experiences, the PR CoP has resolved to form a working group to prepare a discussion paper for Academic Senate. This paper will propose a framework for the range of options under the peer review umbrella, with suggestions for principles and guidelines to support peer review practices at Macquarie.

If you’d like to be a part of this working group, or you’d like to join the PR CoP, please contact Cathy Rytmeister at the Learning Innovation Hub ( , x9719)

Posted by Cathy Rytmeister

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