Developing a scholarly approach to teaching and learning leadership through a Peer Professional Learning Program
Jones, SM and Skalicky, JL and West, ML and Fraser, SP and Walls, JT and Yates, BF, Developing a scholarly approach to teaching and learning leadership through a Peer Professional Learning Program, Developing a scholarly approach to teaching and learning leadership through a Peer Professional Learning Program, October, 22 - 27, 2012, Hamilton Convention Centre & Sheraton Hamilton Hot, pp. 110. (2012) [Conference Extract]
Recognising teaching excellence has been identified as a ‘progressive force’ in supporting academic professionalism (Skelton, 2007). However despite twenty years of scholarship embedded within the higher education learning and teaching domain, investigations into teaching excellence and the programs that promote it are few.
Mentoring in higher education has been commonly regarded as an important strategy through which to support staff in developing their teaching practice and fostering their career aspirations. Mentoring has been linked to career advancement, increased self-confidence, and personal satisfaction and growth, with these benefits being described for both mentors and mentees (Darwin & Palmer, 2009). However research related to the use of peer learning and mentoring for staff in higher education is limited (Zellers, Howard, & Barcic, 2010), and relates largely to faculty based programs or discipline-specific mentoring for staff that are new to the higher education sector.
We are piloting a Peer Professional Learning Program for Awards (PPLP for Awards) at our institution. This program aims to engage teaching award applicants in peer-led professional learning, whilst also providing them with peer leadership and mentoring opportunities in a group-supported environment. The PPLP for Awards model takes a cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach to mentoring, building on Gardiner’s (2005) recommendation to provide more inclusive and accessible mentoring opportunities. Unlike traditional one-to-one mentoring models, award applicants engage in peer-led professional learning groups that aim specifically to enhance the development of quality teaching award applications. In this pilot, four learning groups of four to six academics are being facilitated by four senior learning and teaching champions who were selected for their experience as mentors, engagement with the National teaching awards system and educational expertise.
This project presents a unique opportunity to undertake scholarship in the area of multidisciplinary peer mentoring to support staff to gather evidence of excellent practice for the purposes of recognition and reward in the learning and teaching domain. We are evaluating PPLP for Awards in terms its impact on learning and teaching understandings and attitudes of the academic staff participants and the peer mentors who lead the peer interactions, as well as outcomes of the teaching and learning award application process at the University of Tasmania. Through reflective journals and structured focus groups, we will capture the pre-existing understanding and attitudes, relating to teaching excellence and teaching awards, that the participants bring to the peer learning program. Utilizing the program as a longitudinal intervention, we will identify and describe how these understandings and attitudes change during the course of the program. This information will not only inform future development and refinement of the peer program in an iterative way, but will point to where improved teaching practice and improved student outcomes may evolve and offer suggestions for future practice.
An expected outcome of the process is that the participants in turn become mentors of future groups, thus developing leadership capacity in the scholarship of teaching and learning. This presentation is therefore aligned with the conference theme: Integrating leadership, academic development & SOTL.