A Collaborative Venture Engaging a Community of Teachers at the University of Victoria, School of Nursing

By Jeannine Moreau, RN, BSN, PhD; Karen MacKinnon, RN, MScN, PhD; Coby Tschanz, RN, MN, PhD (c)

Peer review of one’s teaching and learning (TL) practices can bring trepidation and excitement at the possibilities associated with closely examining such practices with colleagues. The peer review approaches we articulate here as “Teaching Review” processes was created, offered, and welcomed by a collaborative community of nurse
educators focusing on inquiry, seeking to hone and enrich contributions to our teaching-learning practices.

Jeannine Moreau, Coby Tschanz, and Karen MacKinnon are School of Nursing faculty who were involved with the UVic Learning Teaching Centre in generating and later piloting this kind peer review in the school. We share some of our ideas and experiences below.

Jeannine’s and Coby’s approach to on-site Peer Review

A Teaching Review is a collaborative venture. A reviewer (chosen by the reviewee) and respective reviewee start by clarifying the purpose of the review, the benefits and challenges of the review, and the teaching-learning (TL) session to be reviewed. A key aspect of the process is to share respective teaching philosophies1.

Purpose of Review: A collaborative approach is used, in the spirit of the School of Nursing as a community of inquiry, to gain insight on and enhance scholarly TL. The intent is to obtain formative and summative evaluative feedback on strengths and challenges in the on-campus undergraduate classroom that may include other relevant settings such as cyberspace, also known as blended learning and flipped classroom. Also considered are qualities of consistency among the reviewee’s course goals, teaching philosophy, narrative statement, and TL practices and outcomes.

Benefits to Reviewee and Reviewer: These review processes offer opportunity for reviewees to receive and discuss comments on their TL in action and to see how their teaching philosophy guides their practice. The reviewer has an opportunity to view and learn from a colleague’s ways of TL.

Context/Duration of Session

Reviewed: This includes determining together which class/seminar/workshop to review, on what date, and during what time frame. Reviewer and reviewee also establish particular foci of TL practices to be examined. For example, it may be the reviewee would like feedback about how they used discussion, role play, and/or other strategies in relation to a particular pedagogical approach such as a pedagogy of discomfort or radical pedagogy. A reviewee may ask for observations about class room setting and structure, e.g., arranging desks, welcoming, small group, and class summary activities, in relation to a stated pedagogical approach. A reviewee may ask for comments about their interactions with students, including personal comportment and/or movement in the class.

Teaching Philosophy: Prior to observations both the reviewer and the reviewee state their respective Teaching Philosophy as a way of framing how each views TL (see Footnote 1 above). They may share their pedagogical viewpoints and literature they draw on for building scholarly TL practices. The reviewer draws on the reviewee’s philosophy statement when providing comments or feedback. For example, a reviewee may choose to draw on the School of Nursing Teaching/Learning principles as part of their philosophical approach including:

• Engagement: knowledgeable, actively engaged, attentive to responsibilities, setting a tone
• Interaction: being in relation via dialogue, questioning, critical reflection, and so forth
• Inquiry: encouraging curiosity, questioning, awareness of context, critical thinking as way of being
• Diversity: respecting different realities, explore and understand diverse ways of knowing, being, doing
• Capacity Building: recognize, utilize and build on students’ previous experiences, foster intrinsic motivation and lifelong learning
• Praxis: dynamic concomitant understanding self/others in relation to practice/theory

The above-described approach was designed so that feedback and comments are illustrated with concrete well-articulated exemplars that are included in the reviewer’s written summary and shared with the reviewee. The reviewee has an option to add comments about their experiences of the process and include the report in their reappointment and/or annual merit review dossiers. Further, the intent is to use these peer review experiences to build and sustain a collaborative community of inquiry that is integral to how as teachers we work together for excellence in BSN education.

Karen’s approach is applicable for on-line teaching reviews

Karen describes another framework, chosen for her version of Teaching Review processes. Her experiences with the peer “Teaching Review” processes in graduate education drew on Garrison’s (2016) Community of Inquiry process. As she explains: most of our graduate courses are offered online, hence we used Garrison’s three kinds of “presence” (i.e. cognitive, social and teaching presence) in the online learning community, which offered a focus for peer feedback. “Thinking collaboratively is the dialectic push and pull of personal, interpretive realities of both the internal and shared worlds of the individual learning” (p. 9). The peer teaching review allowed us to experience thinking collaboratively to construct meaning of our varied teaching practices. When combined with student feedback, peer review conversations fostered opportunities for sharing creative strategies and deeper personal reflection on the challenges associated with enacting a constructivist learning and teaching philosophy.

I am grateful for the support of my colleagues Lynne Young and Anne Bruce for their peer review feedback. With gratitude, Karen MacKinnon. Thank you for reading this brief discussion of teaching review processes. We invite others to engage with us and to consider refining or extending these approaches. Please, share your ideas and experiences in future Communiques!

1 “A ‘teaching philosophy’ is not a philosophy of teaching. It is a matter of personal belief, style and statement designed to
encourage professional reflection without laying down universal principles or a substantive engagement with issues of
teaching methodology.” (Peters, 209, p. 112)


Garrison, D. R. (2016). Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of inquiry. New York: Routledge.

Peters, M. A. (2009) Editorial: A Teaching Philosophy or Philosophy of Teaching? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 41(2), 111-112. Doi: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2009.00526.x