ChangeMakers Student Reviewers of Teaching
Student reviewers of teaching is designed to support students and staff to come together to reflect upon the staff member’s teaching practice through a series of dialogues. The students work in pairs to review teaching on a course, which they are not taking. They negotiate the observations that they undertake with the staff member, which could include a mix of classroom observations, virtual observations and reviewing documents/assignment briefs. They must undertake a minimum of 3 hours worth of observations for it to count under the requirement for staff to undertake annual peer dialogue.

For more information, contact Dr Jenny Marie – Teaching Fellow

How many pairs do you support?

We piloted the scheme in the spring term of 2017 with 31 pairs of staff and students. We hope to be able to support 40 staff and 80 students to participate at steady-state.

What support do you provide?

We provide the student reviewers with training in observation and facilitation skills. We purposefully do not provide training in pedagogy, to retain the student perspective. However, some of the students are reasonably well versed in it, through their own work as teaching assistants or studying education. We also provide an observation template, which students may use if they wish, following feedback that this would help to increase the students’ confidence in participating. We also offer £100 to incentive a focus group, if all partners agree that this would be useful. This is intended to address student concerns that they were not necessarily representative of the cohort being taught.

What are the motivations behind the scheme?

The scheme is designed to enable students and staff to have a dialogue about teaching, and enable partnership to happen in the area of teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD). Having a supportive student perspective on how teachers could develop is seen as an important aspect of CPD. The scheme also has benefits for student learning as described below.

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Key benefits to students

Participating students have reported back that it helped their learning by helping them to appreciate the importance, and how to use, learning outcomes to direct their studies. They reported that they got into the lecturer mindset and so better understood how they were likely to have designed virtual learning environments. Those interested in teaching reported that it had given them an insight into how teaching could be done differently to the ways they saw it taught in their department and to think critically about different techniques. Those studying education found it added a very practical element to their degree. Many reported a new-found respect for lecturers and confidence that staff were working in students best interests.

Key benefits to the University

The university has benefited by strengthening its peer dialogue scheme to include student perspectives. Teaching practices should be enhanced across the courses taught by participating staff and students learning skills are also developed.

What’s the philosophy behind the scheme

There are a couple of key concepts behind the scheme:

• Partnership and therefore dialogue rather than feedback. The scheme is not intended to be one of student’s observing and giving feedback but one of all parties reflecting on their different experiences of a session/resources etc. and discussing these.

• Students should be students not semi-trained professionals: We are careful about the type of training offered to students to ensure that we retain the student perspective. Nevertheless, we’ve been surprised by how well informed some of our students are, and how participation has further strengthened their knowledge of pedagogy and practice as tutors.