Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2012

Summary of projects

Project title

Professional Development: a module for peer partnerships to embed sustainable learning about teaching

Project leaders

  • Associate Professor Andrea Chester
  • Ms Dallas Wingrove
  • Ms Angela Clarke

Project assistants

  • Dr Bianca Denny
  • Ms Prashanti Mayfield

Project summary

RMIT Peer Partnerships is sustainable, school-based professional development involving peer observation of teaching. The RMIT Peer Partnerships model encourages teaching staff to voluntarily take a critically reflective approach to their teaching practice for developmental purposes. Through a process of confidential peer exchange, staff can learn about teaching and/or work toward enhancing the quality of their teaching practice.


This project refined the RMIT Peer Partnerships model and developed a set of online resources and a training package to support its implementation. The embedded leadership approach was piloted and evaluated in six schools across all three Colleges. Participating schools were:

  • Business - Business IT and Logistics
  • DSC - Architecture and Design
  • DSC - Education
  • DSC - Fashion and Textiles
  • SEH - Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
  • SEH - Life and Physical Sciences

The RMIT Peer Partnership program was strongly endorsed by participants, with benefits including the enhancement of teaching confidence, development of reflective practice and strengthening of collegial relationships. Results suggest that developing leadership within schools is a complex process, with the success of the model dependent on integration of training for participants, strong leadership within the School, and Head of School support.


Resources developed to support RMIT Peer Partnerships include:

  • The seven underlying principles of Peer Partnerships
  • A four-stage cycle underpinning the partnership process
  • Criteria to guide participation for schools, leaders and individual staff
  • A toolkit, including templates for participants to guide each stage of the partnership process
  • Guidelines to help participants determine the focus of their observation
  • Training resources (training workshop outlines, Powerpoint slides, and participant handbook)
  • Sample Head of School invitations inviting staff participation in the program
  • Handouts on aspects identified by staff as critical to good partnerships, including giving and receiving feedback, providing sensitive feedback, and principles of good teaching
  • Timelines for leaders to ensure timely completion of the partnership cycle in a semester
  • Videos of staff sharing their experiences

Resources are available for RMIT Peer Partnerships.

Outcomes

Outcomes of the project include:

  • The Peer Partnerships principles and model, grounded in adult learning pedagogy.
  • Establishment of Peer Partnerships as an evidence based initiative within the Peer Feedback Professional Development framework at RMIT.
  • The RMIT Peer Partnerships website for dissemination of the project resources.
  • Development of a distributed leadership model for the sustainable integration of Peer Partnerships into university practices.
  • Enhancement of reflective practice and quality teaching in the six participating schools.
  • Dissemination of the project outcomes in the following journal articles and conference presentations:

      • White, K., Boehm, E., & Chester, A. (In press). Peer review of teaching. Higher Education Research and Development.
      • Chester, A. (2012). Peer partnerships in teaching: Developing a voluntary model of professional development in tertiary education. Journal of Scholarship in Teaching and Learning, 12(2), 94-108.
      • Chester, A.,Clarke, A., Wingrove, D., & Denny, B. (2013, July). Talking about teaching: Empowering staff through peer partnerships. Paper to be presented at the Enhancement and Innovation in Higher Education Conference. Glasgow: UK.
      • Clarke, A., Wingrove, D., Denny, B., & Chester, A. (In preparation). Peer feedback on teaching: A model for sustainable change.

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