The VU Peer Teaching Exchange (PTE) program is a facilitated program for VU staff. It's designed support the development of teaching practice through collegial engagement. It allows an opportunity to share ideas and draw on the expertise of others, as well as discuss common challenges facing teachers.

The program is specifically designed to support staff to engage with a network of peers across colleges and disciplines. We encourage all staff to take part as part of the continuous learning experience that is teaching practice.

Teaching exchanges take many forms, such as:

  • informal discussions
  • sharing of ideas and materials
  • informal observations of teaching
  • formal observations of teaching
  • peer review of curriculum
  • benchmarking.

About peer observation

The purpose of peer observation is to provide an opportunity to share teaching ideas and strategies, with the end goal being an enhanced teaching and student experience. By opening up conversation and sharing ideas, both the observed and the observer can benefit. Peer observations and discussion can also provide a complementary point of reference to the end-of-semester student evaluations of teaching.

In order for this process to be effective, it is crucial that constructive questioning and feedback is provided, and that there is agreement that observation conversations are confidential.

Peer observation is often between two people but may include more.

The first stage of the peer observation process is a discussion with a potential partner/s about the possibility of observing and/or being observed. This usually involves a discussion about:

  • what each participant wants from the experience
  • what kind of approach might best be suited to the situation
  • what protocols will be used.

Some peer observations are very informal, such as a staff member wanting to share ideas, to observe what another teacher is doing, or simply see how someone else teaches in a particular environment.

Some staff prefer a more formal process in which the partners undertake an evaluation or begin a longer-term discussion process.
Observations may focus on the overall teaching and learning experience, the curriculum, on a particular challenge or question. They may involve additional mentoring activities such as that used in the Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (PATS).

Observers do not usually take an active part in the class. Students may be advised of the reason for the observer being in the room at the outset of the observation or the observer may audit the class without identification. This would be discussed and agreed upon prior to the class beginning.

It is helpful formalise peer observations and discussions as a record of the activity, and so that feedback can be provided for further development and refinement.

Our members

The following members of the Peer Teaching Exchange have volunteered to take part in observations as an observer or observee. Not all will be teaching in any given semester.

While you do not have to be a member to seek a peer exchange partnership, we encourage you to contribute to the community of educators who share their practice in the program. If you would like to take part in the PTE program as a member, please let us know at LTPD@vu.edu.au.

Connected Learning offers workshops and support for the PTE process. These workshops are open to all interested staff, whether or not they are members.

Name  College/discipline  Email
Paul Ashton  First Year College paul.ashton@vu.edu.au
Assoc Prof Bill Eckersley College of Arts & Education  bill.eckersley@vu.edu.au
Mary Grant College of Sport & Exercise Science mary.grant@vu.edu.au
Assoc Prof Peter Hartley College of Health & Biomedicine peter.hartley@vu.edu.au
Dr Karen Lawrence College of Health & Biomedicine karen.lawrence@vu.edu.au
Dr Fion Lim Victoria University College fion.lim@vu.edu.au
Dr Chris Macfarlane College of Health & Biomedicine chris.macfarlane@vu.edu.au
Lucinda Mayor College of Health & Biomedicine lucinda.mayor@vu.edu.au
Dr Jayce Naidoo College of Business jayce.naidoo@vu.edu.au
Dr Thinh Nguyen College of Engineering & Science thinh.nguyen@vu.edu.au
Dr Andrew Smallridge College of Engineering & Science andrew.smallridge@vu.edu.au
Bill Swannie College of Law & Justice bill.swannie@vu.edu.au
Dr Peter Thomas College of Arts & Education  peter.thomas@vu.edu.au

Contact us

Find out more or join the PTE group by emailing LTPD@vu.edu.au.

Helpful documents

You may find these documents useful for teaching observations. These can be used as they are, or adapted to suit your particular situation.