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Peer review in online and blended learning environments 1
Executive summary This project sought to develop, implement and evaluate a scholarly framework, processes and resources for peer review of learning and teaching in online and blended learning environments, for improvement, and for recognising and rewarding good teaching. The project used a co-productive, action learning approach, involving a core, cross-institutional project team, and institutional teams of six academics from each of the five Australian Technology Network universities. Project activities included: reviewing relevant literature on peer review developing a scholarly framework for peer review in online and blended learning
environments forming teams of six academics in each institution and supporting team members
to engage in peer review developing protocols, guidelines and resources for peer review and for
professional development and guidance for institutions evaluating through feedback from peer review action learning cycles, document
analysis and interviews disseminating through workshops that engaged others with the peer review
process while seeking feedback, and awareness raising through forum and conference presentations.
Peer review was seen as an activity that could contribute to peer learning as well as providing evidence about teaching. The project developed a framework for peer review, based on an adapted version of the qualities of scholarly work described by Glassick, Huber and Maeroff (1997), with prompts informed by literature on good teaching, scholarly teaching and the particular qualities of good teaching in online and blended learning environments. Teams of academics trialled the framework and associated review protocols and guidelines. Feedback was obtained from team members, with informal feedback from workshop attendees, promotion committee members, and a meeting of institutional teaching and learning leaders. The project confirmed many of the issues that have been identified in the peer review literature and other Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) peer review projects, including the need for formative feedback and professional development. There were some nuances related to online and blended learning environments. Specific insights included: There was value in using a flexible, scholarly framework for both formative and
summative purposes. The framework supports and structures peer review of teaching goals, preparation, methods, communication and interaction, outcomes, reflection and subsequent improvement.
Peer review in online and blended learning environments needs to be carefully scoped, with specific aspects of teaching and subjects considered in relation to the whole of a subject or teaching context.
Peer review in online and blended learning environments is often best conducted by peers with similar or more advanced levels of experience in these environments, particularly when the reviewee is using innovative approaches.
Approaches to the use of peer review for promotion may range from formative, indirect approaches, in which close-up observation from peers is used to inform scholarly practice and contextualised in promotion applications, to summative voluntary approaches where the reviewee retains choice and control over what is reviewed and who is involved, to summative mandated approaches with independent reviewers. It is suggested that peer review in online and blended environments is most useful when it includes a formative focus and voluntary elements, to enable insightful evidence to be provided by reviewers who enter into the learning and teaching environment.
Peer review in online and blended learning environments 2
The project leader wishes to acknowledge the contributions to the project of the following people. Project team members Dr Lina Pelliccione, Curtin University of Technology Garry Allan, RMIT University Dr Diana Quinn, University of South Australia Caroline Cottman, Queensland University of Technology Project officer Dr Nicola Parker, Institute for Interactive Media and Learning, University of Technology, Sydney Nicola was essential to the projects progress, management and communication, and made substantial contributions to the literature review, resource development and internal evaluation. Earlier team members and contributors to the project application Associate Professor Ian Reid, University of South Australia Associate Professor Sandr