UAS Sitka Campus was awarded a Title III grant in 2010. This 5-year grant included a goal to develop a collaborative, faculty-driven peer review process.
We began by forming a Peer Review Committee populated by faculty and instructional design staff. The committee reviewed national peer review instruments including Quality Matters and developed our own instrument based on national standards. This first draft of the rubric was shared with faculty at iTeach.
Modifications and edits were made from the positive feedback received. In addition to developing a rubric, the committee also developed a process for the continuous improvement of online courses.
The UAS Peer Review Rubric was extensively tested by the committee. We practiced using the rubric by performing mini-reviews on two “test” courses. Modifications were made after each review.
The committee then used the rubric to complete a formal review of Susan Mircovich’s (KPC College) Chemistry 103 course. Ms. Mircovich was getting her course ready for a Blackboard Catalyst Award submission and was glad to have the opportunity to get feedback prior to her submission.
The process and the rubric was presented to UAS faculty at a campus meeting in August 2012.
As part of our "process" charge, the committee determined that all Peer Review Reviewers needed training. So, prior to our first formal review, faculty at all three UAS campuses were offered the opportunity to take a Quality Matters course called "Applying the QM Rubric." This course trained our faculty how to examine a course using a rubric and provide substantive, positive feedback to a faculty member. The training process helped us establish a protocol for reviewing and providing feedback.
Our first Peer Reviewers included Maren Haavig in Juneau, Rose Goeden and Kathi Baldwin, both in Sitka. In the summer of 2013, Jon Martin's Biology 111 course was reviewed. The effort was successful, and Jon received a comprehensive report on his course. Along with the recommendations came the commitment to help him make any changes that he deemed most appropriate for his course.
During this fourth year of the grant we broadened our committee base adding members from Juneau and Ketchikan campuses. We changed our name to the UAS Committee for Course Improvement. We also concentrated on reporting each month to TLTR on our activities.
Our website explaining the peer review process went live and we began a monthly series called Thru the Lens where faculty were invited to look at the peer review rubric, standard by standard using 2-3 courses shared by faculty volunteers.
We also enlarged our pool of faculty reviewers by sponsoring more faculty from all three campuses to take the QM Applying the Rubric course.
Two course reviews were completed in 2013-2014.
We continued the very popular Thru the Lens series, and collected and posted exemplars for each part of the Peer Review Rubric. These examples were gathered from UAS faculty and used with their permission. Six more faculty, from all three campuses, took the QM online course “Applying the QM Rubric”, making them qualified Peer Reviewers for future reviews. Another two courses went through the formal Peer Review Process. The committee continued to reflect interest from all three campuses and this last year they worked hard on a recommendation for TLTR to continue the Peer Review process after the conclusion of the Title III grant in Sitka. This recommendation was requested by the Provost.
Faculty, instructional designers and pedagogical curriculum specialists make up the Committee for Course Improvement. This year, the committee consists of the following members:
- Dawn Allen-Herron
- Paul Bahna
- Kathi Baldwin
- Eve Dillingham
- Robin Gilcrist
- Rose Goeden
- Jon Martin
- Ljubomir Medenica
- Maureen O'Halloran
- Robert Patterson
- Mary Purvis
- Kimberly Schulte
- Ann Spehar
- Mark Standley
Peer review is a widely accepted approach to ensure the quality of online courses. The benefits to peer review include the following:
- Standardizes an approach towards evaluating online courses
- Recognizes and highlights what UAS faculty consider as online best practices
- Provides tools that can be used to self-assess online courses
- Provides focused and meaningful feedback on courses
- Provides reviewers with different perspectives and strategies for designing and implementing online courses
- Improves the practice of developing and teaching an online course
- Completing the peer review process is excellent professional development.
You will receive positive and constructive criticism from your peer review. The process is never prescriptive. It is designed to be suggestive. Reviewers will suggest areas where your course can be improved. They may provide examples, but you will never be told that you must "fix" or "change" your course to comply with their suggestion.
The process is to provide you with ideas to improve the effectiveness of your course.
The UAS Peer Review Rubric and Checklist can be used by faculty as they develop their online course, as they modify an existing course, or as they evaluate their course and want to see how their course design meets or exceeds national best practices.
We encourage faculty to use these documents alone, working with another faculty member or sitting with one of the university’s instructional designers as they review their courses. These instruments are designed to make you think intentionally about the elements that you place into your course. They are designed to improve the craft of teaching online.