Essentials: Peer review process

The purpose of peer reviewing our curriculum is to improve the quality of our work, by strengthening our understanding of curriculum development, quality assessment, and effective instruction. Teams of teachers engage in a process during which a curriculum unit is analyzed to determine the extent to which it meets certain criteria. Adjustments are made to the unit based upon feedback from the team.

The peer review process should provide both feedback and guidance on the development of one of the Essentials in a subject:

  • Feedback is an assessment of whether the work does or does not meet standards using descriptive language and/or a scoring system used, but not values.
  • Guidance is advice on how to better meet standards or improve performance that draws on the ideas and values of the reviewer.

STAGE 1: Choose a reviewer

Think about who will be helpful to provide feedback and guidance. A reviewer is likely to be most helpful to you when they have one or more of the following:

  • Is from your discipline area
  • Has already had experience developing an Essential in ways relevant to you
  • Is someone whose judgment you trust and feedback you value
  • Has had curriculum development experience

STAGE 2: Clarify what the requirements of the Essential are, and tips for development or improvement

Your reviewer may already be experienced in developing an Essential. Even so, it is valuable to review the requirements of the Essential you are working on, because the Essential might be different to their previous experience, and your way of expressing the Essential in your subject may be different to theirs.

Provide to the reviewer:

  • Directions to the definitions of the Essential.
  • Look at both the formal definition For Staff and description For Students. You may also look at some of the ways staff have found of improving Essentials.

STAGE 3: Form an overview of how the Essentials has been embedded in the draft subject

It may be useful to look at the four different ways that Essentials are often embedded in a subject, and whether your approach aligns with any of these — see Considering the Essentials in Your Subject.

Provide to the reviewer:

  • The draft subject learning guide and other relevant documents; for example, access to the LMS for the subject; detail of assessment tasks where these are not fully outlined in the Subject Learning Guide or on the LMS.
  • Before you head into the detail of how the Essential has been incorporated into your subject, discuss with the reviewer their overall impression of how well, and in what ways, the Essential has been incorporated.

STAGE 4: Focus in turn on each of the following

  • Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
  • Student Learning Activities (SLAs)
  • Subject Assessment Tasks (SATs)

Provide to the reviewer:

  • The Subject Learning Guide (SLG) that contains the ILOs and some level of description of the SLAs and SATs.
  • Any additional material that may assist the reviewer to understand the SLAs and SATs. This might include access to the LMS, and more detailed descriptions of the SLAs and SATs that might not appear in the SLG.
  • Also provide course level ILOs and topic level ILOs where these are available.

What the reviewer needs to do:

  • Feedback: Provide an assessment of the extent to which the Essential is clearly expressed in the ILO(s), SLAs and SAT(s) of the subject — for example, by providing a score out of 10, or descriptive comments, or both.
  • Advice: Suggest ways that the ILO(s), SLAs and SATs might be improved to better express the Essential. Also, if appropriate, suggestions as to how the ILOs might be improved overall in line with the Writing ILOs guidelines (see LTLT website).

STAGE 5 (if appropriate): Constructive Alignment

In developing ILOs, SLAs and SATs for Essentials, you need to ensure that these are constructively aligned — see Writing ILOs.

If appropriate, you may want to ask your reviewer to comment on how well the ILOS, SLAs and SATs are constructively aligned, and provide advice on how these might be improved.

STAGE 6: (if appropriate) Subject Description

The subject description should make some reference to the inclusion of the Essential, and how the Essential is explored in the subject.

If appropriate, you may want to ask your reviewer to comment on how well the Essential is covered in the subject description, and provide advice on how this might be improved.

References & Resources