By Jill Pease
In a twist on the classic peer teaching evaluation, several University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty members recently participated in reciprocal reviews outside of their disciplines. The experience gave them new ideas and perspectives and offered another unexpected benefit: the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty members they likely would not have met outside of their typical work responsibilities.
It all started last spring when Lindsey King, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of social and behavioral sciences within the dean’s office and a clinical assistant professor in the department of health services research, management and policy, was looking for peer review opportunities to add to her promotional packet. She had already received several teaching reviews from colleagues within her department, and wanted to solicit some additional feedback.
King contacted PHHP instructional designer Truly Hardemon, M.Ed., for advice. Hardemon suggested reciprocal peer teaching reviews and gave King some names of faculty who may be interested: Anna Galloway, O.T.D., OTR/L, and Becky Piazza, O.T.D., OTR/L, both clinical assistant professors in the department of occupational therapy; and Sharon Difino, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and Laurie Gauger, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, both clinical assistant professors in the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences.
While on the surface the subject matter of their courses seemed very different, these faculty members shared some important characteristics that made them a good match, Hardemon said. They are all at a similar place in their careers and demonstrate a strong commitment to improving their teaching through activities such as taking courses through UF’s Center for Teaching Excellence.
“The idea was to connect like-minded people who are really interested in growing their teaching skills,” Hardemon said. “Teaching can be very lonely even though you have your colleagues all around you. Having an interdisciplinary connection, or somebody you can go to for a different lens can be valuable. All of the instructors involved in this cohort love teaching and want their students to succeed. Bringing them together gives them an opportunity to support each other and share ideas.”
King conducted peer reciprocal teaching reviews with Piazza and Galloway in the spring. Gauger reviewed King’s class and King will review Gauger’s class next year. Reciprocal teaching reviews for King and DiFino are planned for early next year.
In observing Piazza’s Occupational Therapy Service Delivery and Organization course, King appreciated the organization of her Canvas homepage and the use of novel programs, such as Padlet, which allowed students to upload quotes intended to inspire each other.
“Becky is such a dynamic presenter!” King said. “She’s very interactive in her lectures — asking the audience a lot of questions, which is very nice to see in pre-recorded lectures. I felt like I was in a live classroom.”
“The reciprocal peer teaching review has been such a great process. I have learned so much from these other instructors reviewing my classes and me reviewing theirs. I got to see so many amazing approaches that I had never thought about doing before.”
King reviewed Galloway’s Occupational Therapy Theory blended course and was struck by her effective use of real-world examples.
“She asked the students, ‘What if a client throws a shoe at you?’ which got a big laugh, but also allowed them to discuss what they would do in this situation to respond therapeutically,” King said. “Anna made them think about conflicts they will inevitably face as practicing OTs; she is doing an excellent job of getting them ready to deal with these challenges now so they will be skilled when they get out into the real world.”
Galloway was eager to observe King’s Trauma Informed Approaches for Individuals, Communities and Public Health course. While she has extensive training in trauma-informed care from an individual approach in one-on-one therapy, Galloway had less knowledge on trauma-informed care from a public health lens. This helped to give Galloway the perspective of a student learning the material.
“When Lindsey reached out to me I jumped on the opportunity because I thought it would really give me a better understanding of how other programs or departments are approaching teaching and innovative learning,” she said. “Seeing some of the different techniques she used, especially with her discussion board, where the students actually created discussion questions that became part of her in-class lecture and they contributed to their own learning, was really cool to see.”
“I’m newer to UF and Gainesville so this was a nice way for me to connect with people on a different level. Teaching is such a vulnerable thing. With a peer review, you’re observing somebody being vulnerable with students in front of you. This is another way to connect as faculty, especially with the intention of supporting each other.”
Gauger reviewed King’s Sexuality, Gender and Public Health course, which is taught in an online asynchronous environment.
“Lindsey’s whole class was so engaging,” Gauger said. “She had great video introductions to all the modules. You got a feeling watching them that you were almost sitting there listening to her lecture live. She also offered several types of video content that were presented in a lot of different and interesting ways.”
“I walked away from this experience with really good information. People have different ideas and creative ways of teaching so I think this is the next step. You can do peer reviews in your department and the next step is to see what other people outside your department are doing. There are bound to be other ideas that you haven’t thought of.”
When observing King’s Trauma-informed Approaches for Individuals, Communities, and Public Health online class, Piazza appreciated King’s comprehensive and regularly scheduled class announcements that would recap what had been covered and preview what was to come.
“After reviewing Lindsey’s course I began providing announcements at the same time every week,” Piazza said. “These announcements are designed to not only remind students of what is coming, but also help them organize their time better. Lindsey would also share why an upcoming assignment is important to students professionally.”
“There is real value in having a larger awareness of what’s going on in our college outside of our departments. Since this experience, Lindsey and I have looped each other in on things that we would have never known to do before. Unless we had been on a committee together, we probably never would have had this opportunity to connect.”