McMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

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Peer Review Provides Teaching Tune-up

Program offers faculty members a teaching mentor to guide them through course design, classroom strategies and assessment of results, and help them better engage students.

Date: 9/4/2012
By: Tom Robinette
Phone: (513) 556-8577
“Each one teach one,” as the old saying goes, and the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences will follow that proverb through a new initiative for its faculty.

The formative peer review of teaching program is funded by the Faculty Development Council as part of a larger project designed to enhance the teaching experience and is in partnership with the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning. The program is set to begin training and implementation in fall semester, and space is available for additional members for spring semester.

The program is intended to develop a stronger teaching culture at the University of Cincinnati and assist faculty in maximizing their impact in the classroom by helping them design better courses, communicate more effectively and assess learning outcomes. Upon completion of this work, participants will receive a $500 professional development honorarium.

Communication professor Gail Fairhurst, one of the organizers of the program, says part of its objective is to give faculty a teaching mentor separate from the reappointment, promotion and tenure process.
Gail Fairhurst is one of the organizers of the formative peer review of teaching program, which aims to develop a stronger teaching culture at UC.



“It's a lot like having your own executive coach, but for teaching,” Fairhurst says. “It's a well-rounded effort to get faculty to become more mindful of many different aspects of their teaching.”

Teaching partners or coaches outside of a faculty member’s department will serve as peer reviewers, evaluating course design, classroom strategies and assessment of results in terms of student learning, and offering their guidance. A peer reviewer’s time commitment is estimated to be 20 hours spread out over the course of the semester. Training is divided into three mandatory three-hour meetings from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27, Oct. 18 and Nov. 8. Participants also are required to respond to a series of prompts and write a two- to three-page reflective memo that addresses course conception and planning, classroom strategies, and assessment of student learning.   

Better teaching leads to better student learning outcomes, and Fairhurst says the peer review process will enhance a professor’s ability to effectively manage the changing expectations – such as increased classroom interactivity – from this generation of tech-savvy students.

“Today's students are a different breed due, in large measure, to the technological transformation of society today,” Fairhurst says. “Their attention spans are different because they're so used to multitasking. They're more participative than ever before, again, because of the way their communication technologies invite them to participate. As faculty members, we can't be set in our ways. We have to adapt and learn.”

For more information or to get involved in the program, contact Fairhurst at fairhug@ucmail.uc.edu.

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