Was Moses Peer Observed? The Ten Commandments of Peer Observation of Teaching

  • David Spencer
Part of the Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education book series (PROD, volume 9)


Some university teachers have difficulties in engaging in peer observation of teaching. Much of the literature suggests that the main stumbling block is the threatening nature of a peer observing teaching practices. Others suggest that taking a punitive approach to peer observation runs counter to the developmental and collegial underpinnings that lie at the very heart of it and act as a significant disincentive to participation. This paper reviews the research on why at times peer observation suffers from a lack of engagement. Based on the author’s experience in introducing peer observation of teaching to a small and large academic unit in two Australian universities, it will set out the Ten Commandments of a developmental model that will lead proponents of it to successfully engage academic staff in the establishment and maintenance of peer observation of teaching.


Professional Development Teaching Practice Student Learning Outcome Academic Unit Discipline Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bell, M. (2001). Supported reflective practice: A programme of peer observation and feedback for academic teaching development. International Journal for Academic Development, 6(1), 29–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell, M., & Cooper, P. (2011). Peer observation of teaching in university departments: a framework for implementation. International Journal for Academic Development, 1–14. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2011.633753. Accessed 12 July 2012.Google Scholar
  3. Blackwell, R. (1996). Peer observation of teaching & staff development. Higher Education Quarterly, 50(2), 156–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Byrne, J., Brown, H., & Challen, D. (2010). Peer development as an alternative to peer observation: A tool to enhance professional development. International Journal for Academic Development, 15(3), 215–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cosh, J. (1998). Peer observation in higher education—a reflective approach. Innovations in Education & Training International, 35(2), 171–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dunkin, M. J. (1995). Concepts of teaching and teaching excellence in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 14(1), 21–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Evans, T., & Nation, D. (2000). Changing university teaching: Reflections on creating educational technologies. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  8. Gibbs, G. (1995). The relationship between quality in research and quality teaching. Quality in Higher Education, 1(2), 147–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gosling, D. (2002). Models of peer review for teaching. Learning and teaching support network. London: UK. _of_Peer_Observation_of_Teaching.rtf. Accessed 3 Aug 2012.
  10. Hammersley, L., & Orsmond, P. (2004). Evaluating our peers: Is peer observation a meaningful process. Studies in Higher Education, 29(4), 489–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harris, K. L., Farrell, K., Bell, M., Devlin, M., & James, R. (2008). Peer review of teaching in Australian higher education: A handbook to support institutions in developing effective policies and practices. (University of Melbourne, University of Wollongong and Australian Learning and Teaching Council, November 2008).Google Scholar
  12. Jarzabkowski, P., & Bone, Z. (1998). A “how-to” guide and checklist for peer appraisal of teaching. Innovations in Education & Training International, 35(2), 177–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Keig, L., & Waggoner, M. (1995). Peer review of teaching: Improving college instruction through formative assessment. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 6(3), 51–83.Google Scholar
  14. Kohut, G. F., Burnap, C., & Yon, M. G. (2007). Peer observation of teaching: Perceptions of the observer and the observed. College Teaching, 55(1), 19–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lomas, L., & Kinchin, I. (2006). Developing a peer observation program with university teachers. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 18(3), 204–214.Google Scholar
  16. Lomas, L., & Nicholls, G. (2005). Enhancing teaching quality through peer review of teaching. Quality in Higher Education, 11(2), 137–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Martin, G., & Double, J. (1998). Developing higher education teaching skills through peer observation and collaborative reflection. Innovations in Education and Training International, 35(2), 161–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Martin, G., Smith, B., & Double, J. (1999). ‘Agony aunt’. Times Higher Education Supplement, 17(7), 40.Google Scholar
  19. McKeachie, W. J. (1997). Critical elements in training university teachers. International Journal for Academic Development, 2(1), 67–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. MacKinnon, M. M. (2001). Using observational feedback to promote academic development. International Journal for Academic Development, 6(1), 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  22. Shortland, S. (2004). Peer observation: A tool for staff development or compliance? Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28(2), 219–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Yon, M., Burnap, C., & Kohut, G. (2002). Evidence of effective teaching: Perceptions of peer reviewers. College Teaching, 50(3), 104–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Catholic UniversityVictoriaAustralia

Personalised recommendations