Peer review has traditionally been implemented to support classroom quality in the face-to-face classroom environment (Atkinson and Bolt, 2010). Bennett and Barp (2008) propose that the same needs for quality assurance and professional development apply to the online teaching environment as to the face-to-face teaching environment; online peer observation is a viable approach for addressing those needs in online higher education (Swinglehurst, Russell, & Greenhalgh, 2008). Peer mentoring is an established practice in higher education that can be successfully developed to the online teaching environment (Buckenmeyer, Hixon, Barczyk, and Feldman, 2011). Peer mentorship can support professional development for adjunct faculty members in the online environment (Rogers, McIntyre, and Jazzar, 2010).
Our institution comprises a diverse faculty body, with over 2500 faculty members who work virtually from all 50 states, plus the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC; Canada, and 20 additional nations. The varied locations of our fully online faculty create a unique challenge for faculty engagement in the quality assurance process.
This session provides one model for faculty peer mentors to support instructional quality and professional development in the online classroom. The speakers will review an initiative implemented at a large, online university to support quality assurance. Faculty peers are trained to mentor instructional faculty in key issues related to the course, provide peer reviews of the classroom, and support ongoing improvement to the course content and format. This particular program utilizes faculty members as peer mentors and reviewers to support faculty engagement and voice in the quality assurance process. As many of the faculty mentors are adjunct faculty, the model provides opportunity for adjunct faculty members to have a voice in the institution's ongoing improvement cycle. This session connects to the conference theme by demonstrating how traditions of faculty engagement and peer review can be adapted to support online instructional quality.
In particular, faculty peers ("Lead Faculty") support quality across multiple sections of the same course, taught by multiple instructors, to ensure consistent outcomes for students. The program was initially implemented via a pilot process in 2009, was refined via additional pilots in early 2010, and in mid-2010 was expanded to the full university. Quantitative and qualitative data indicate that the Lead Faculty process has improved instructor understanding of and compliance with university policies around classroom presence and responsiveness, provided improved opportunities for faculty members to learn from experience faculty, and facilitated the process for revising course content.
The session targets academic leadership, program leadership, and faculty support center staff who may be interested in implementing quality assurance programs, in particular those that include and engage faculty members.
The session's learning outcomes will be to provide an overview of the "Lead Faculty Model," challenges experienced during development and implementation, the process of ongoing refinement to the model, and demonstrated outcomes.
Participants will engage in the session through interactive questions and answers regarding the model.