Internet Edition

Issue No. 7, June 2001

Why Peer Review in Teaching?

" When three men walk together, there is always something I can learn. Choose to follow what is good in them and correct what is not good ''
- Confucius Analect

In the quest for quality in higher education, there has been an increasing emphasis placed on excellence in teaching. The recognition of the value of good teaching has resulted in reward systems and demands for suitable instruments to evaluate the quality of teaching in education. Quality of teaching could be broadly viewed from three different perspectives: Students' evaluation/ feedback, Teaching portfolio and Peer review. In the past, Students' evaluation has formed the bulk of the evaluation process, although it is valuable tool, it has certain limitations. A combination of approaches in evaluating quality in teaching appears to be a more acceptable strategy.

Peer review is yet another dimension of reflecting teaching quality more so from the staff perspective. It has to be acknowledged that perhaps Peer reviewers would be more appropriate to evaluate certain aspects of teaching such as those that involve subject matter expertise and pedagogical strategies specific to the discipline. Quality in education involves more than reflecting on the teacher's ability to impart knowledge and his presentation skills. The paradigm shift in educational philosophy from instruction to learning has also changed the focus from teaching per se to effective strategies in enhancing students' learning. As the teaching- learning process is closely linked, the ability to inculcate this learning culture is a challenge faced by most academics in higher education. A comprehensive Peer review process should therefore encompass different aspects of teaching and learning: Classroom teaching, Curriculum design, effective use of teaching materials and appropriate assessment methods With the introduction of more objective and explicit guidelines for Peer review in teaching, it is envisaged the system will be more transparent, due recognition/rewards will be given to good teaching and the mission of the University to excel in teaching will be further enhanced

Peer review should not be viewed as an act of scrutiny but rather to serve as a congenial platform for exchange of experiences and constructive feedback for formative development of academic staff in the faculty. Peer review has been implemented in the faculty for four years. Arising from the Peer review exercise conducted in the faculty, it is reasonable to conclude with this comment: " None of the faculty staff are bad teachers; the majority are good teachers and certainly all aspire to be excellent teachers "

A/Prof Lim Lum Peng
Chairperson, Faculty Peer Review Committee

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