Peer observation & review of teaching (PORT) is a voluntary, self-intitated program that enables peers to observe and constructively comment on each others' teaching.
PORT provides a structured framework for the ongoing improvement of teaching and learning practices through;
the sharing of ideas and good practice.
Observation may be a very valuable tool for both the observed and the observer as it promotes the sharing of excellence and good practice and encourages collegiality. Ideally, the PORT process should operate in the spirit of impartiality, professionalism, and peer support, with the aim of enhancing practice for peers, and the learning experience of students at ACU.
Participating in PORT enables participants to:
reflect on their teaching practices,
enhance their awareness of the student learning experience,
recognise and identify others good practice,
identify further professional development needs,
identify and promote good practice and innovation in learning and teaching,
deepen the understanding of the work of colleagues in and across PORT teams,
provide evidence of quality teaching practice for promotion applications and professional development recognition.
These Guidelines have been developed to ensure that academic staff that participate in PORT have a suggested process and supporting resources for successfully implementing the program. PORT Guidelines (PDF, 127.51 KB).
The main purpose of the manual is to set out a method for peer observation (adaptable for review) and, to provide the prompts, criteria and recording sheets that may be of use in the PORT process. PORT Manual (PDF, 1295.99 KB).
After attending the Learning for Life showcase in 2015, which introduced the Peer Observation and Review of Teaching project, Anthony Whitty and his colleagues from the School of Exercise Science decided to use the PORT process to improve their teaching practice. The trio planned to form a ‘three ring’ group to review and discuss their teaching methods. This, it was hoped, would lead to better teaching practice and improved student engagement.
Firstly, they met to discuss what they were looking to achieve from participating in the PORT process. Part of this discussion included expressing their fears and apprehensions about the process. This helped to overcome any notions of the process going wrong. It was decided at the outset that each semester they would focus on a specific aspect of learning on teaching, starting with student engagement.
All three participants observed each other’s teaching and used the PORT templates to suggest ways each could improve their own teaching by incorporating ideas they had observed into their units and courses.
After the sessions were completed, the participants met to debrief and discuss their experiences and what they could do to improve their teaching. It was discovered that by watching their peers teach in this safe and supportive environment, the observers also learnt techniques to improve their teaching.
In this case Anthony and his colleagues have been able to harness the power of peer observation to improve their own teaching methods and increase student engagement.
Video 1 - Mr. Anthony Whitty discusses PORT at ACU
Video 2 - Dr. David Opar discusses PORT at ACU
Video 3 - Deirdre Cooke and Sue Gledhill discuss PORT at ACU