While the prospect of reviewing one’s work with a peer is an inherently anxiety-provoking activity for me, like with many situations where we face our fears. reality was much better than anticipated, and in fact turned out to be an extremely valuable activity.
Why was peer review effective?
- ATTITUDE: the peer with whom I was working adopted a positive, non judgemental attitude of openness with the intention of improvement not judgement
- STRUCTURED: both what we were reviewing and the framework being used for evaluation (the SOLO framework (Biggs & Collis, 2014)
- POSITIVE PEER PRESSURE: peer review in a non-threatening open-minded environment at this half way point in this subject was an effective motivational aid for me to maintain my progress towards the course requirements. While adhering to structured deadlines can be frustrating, it ensures that the work is done which is particularly important for students who face competing personal, professional and academic commitments.
- BI-DIRECTIONAL learning: I learnt as much by giving feedback as I did from receiving it.
What I learnt:
- Our group (me included) requested the discussion forums to be included in this course. With the benefit of hindsight, given the other media being used to capture work in this course (ePortfolia), maintaining the discussion forums too has added an extra layer of work in an already busy subject with required weekly tasks
- I have been inconsistent with posting on the discussion forums and need to schedule timely review of the discussions in addition to writing the weekly blogs…..if I comment in bulk, the relevance and inertia of the discussion thread is somehow lost and has petered out which means that the comments I make do not contribute to the ongoing discussion as the participants have already moved on.
- The discussion topics often go off in interesting directions (chasing rabbits down bunny holes)….while this is academically and cognitively stimulating I need to try to bring some of these discussions back to the question of the week.
- I should try to reference the academic literature in posts more
- While this has been strongly encouraged in other subjects in which I have enrolled, other than in the Foundations of University Learning and Teaching (FULT) course, I have not engaged with this format but have really enjoyed and can see the value in maintaining this to both fine tune my thinking but also as a means of capturing the artefacts of my work. It is also helping me to become familiar and comfortable with technology increasingly utilised by my students
- I really need to achieve a better balance between perfectionism and productivity when it comes to my posts, focusing on pithy, punchy posts
- I tend to use the blogs to capture new learning I have acquired in the week’s class (which is of value in and of itself for my future learning and reinforcing new concepts) as well as my reflections……in my final work submission, dissecting out the latter and increasing referencing to the literature in that will be important.
- Using the SOLO taxonomy, I am doing, while I do multiple unrelated points well and there are some unanticipated extensions, overall my posts lack the intermediate step of being ‘logically related’. This was also noted in my contributions to the discussion forums.
- Using Brookfield’s lenses (Brookfield, 2002) to structure my posts could be a means of focusing my work.
- I also need to incorporate comments and / or observations about how what I have learnt will change my thinking and practice.
- Despite these comments, it is good to observe that my work is evolving positively throughout the course.
I am really enjoying the class and the lively input from my peers and especially the organic discussions we have in class. The workload of polished weekly posts is proving to be quite challenging for me personally – keeping on topic, on task and on word limit. While class discussions can feel somewhat free-range I have noticed that similar themes are brought up from week to week, for whatever the topic of the week is and thus, the key issues facing higher education are becoming increasingly clear to me as recurrent themes are seen to be spanning divergent topics.
- Biggs, J. B., & Collis, K. F. (2014). Evaluating the quality of learning: The SOLO taxonomy (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome). Academic Press.
- Brookfield, S. D. (2002). Using the lenses of critically reflective teaching in the community college classroom. New Directions for Community Colleges,2002(118), 31-38.