Peer Observation For Online Distance Learning Tutors: Creating The Conditions For Effective Peer Exchange

  • 1 The University of York, Heslington, York, N. Yorks, YO105DD. United Kingdom [http://www.york.ac.uk ]

Abstract

This article explores how online distance learning tutors working within a higher education context may be supported in their professional development through participation on an institutional peer observation programme. Drawing on the reflections of participants from two cohorts (2011 and 2012) at the University of York, the article reviews the learning outcomes arising from the peer observation process and investigates the necessary conditions for fostering critical reflection on practice between tutors. Feedback from participants highlighted the importance of investing time in relationship-building at the outset of the process - a necessary first step before free-ranging and critical exchanges can flourish between partners. Pairings which invested time at this stage appeared to develop greater levels of trust, enabling them to probe their tutoring practices in a more critical way and explore areas of perceived weakness as well as tackling emergent themes in their dialogue. These observations have informed the development of a guidance framework for peer exchange at the University of York, which is summarised in the concluding part of this paper.

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