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Reflective Practice: Peer Partnerships


Peer partnerships refer to collaborative relationships formed among educators to enhance their professional growth and teaching effectiveness. These partnerships are structured to provide a platform for faculty members to exchange ideas, strategies, and best practices related to teaching and learning. Through peer partnerships, educators can engage in reflective discussions, share innovative teaching techniques, and offer constructive feedback, creating a supportive community of practice within the institution.

Faculty engagement in peer partnerships offers several advantages. It fosters a culture of continuous improvement and professional development, helping educators stay current with pedagogical advancements. These partnerships also promote a sense of camaraderie and collective learning, allowing faculty members to draw upon each other's experiences and expertise. By actively participating in peer partnerships, faculty members can refine their teaching methods, leading to enhanced student learning outcomes and a more vibrant and effective educational environment overall.

The following are characteristics associated with successful peer partnerships in higher education:

  1. Building relationships - Participants have opportunities to create a community around resources, research, and shared experiences
  2. Foster learning - With a focus on process rather than content, peer partnerships allows for sharing and observing teaching practices
  3. Encourage reciprocity - Partnerships exist outside of traditional evaluation frameworks and unequal power dynamics; instead, each participant is both observer/observee, mentor/mentee, teacher/learner
  4. Voluntary - The opt-in nature of these partnerships encourages self-directed, engaged learning
  5. Confidential - Trust-building is an essential component of developing a peer partnership
  6. Ownership of process - While faculty development can provide training and ongoing support of peer partnerships, participants are responsible for setting their own goals, timetables, and schedules
  7. Enhancing quality of teaching - Peer partnerships support continued professional development and contribute to a culture of teaching and learning



Chester, Andrea, Angela Clarke, Dallas Wingrove, and Bianca Denny. "Talking about teaching: empowering staff through peer partnerships." In Proceedings of the 10th Enhancement and Innovation in Higher Education conference, pp. 568-575. RMIT University, 2013.


Looking for ideas for peer partnerships? Here are some suggestions along with reasons why such partnerships can be beneficial:

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

  • Idea: Partner with colleagues from different departments or disciplines to explore interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and research.
  • Why: Interdisciplinary collaboration fosters innovative thinking, encourages diverse perspectives, and can lead to the development of new courses or research projects that address complex, real-world problems.

Teaching Observation and Feedback

  • Idea: Form partnerships with peers to observe each other's classes and provide constructive feedback on teaching techniques and methods.
  • Why: Observing and receiving feedback from colleagues can help improve teaching practices, enhance student engagement, and lead to a more reflective and effective teaching approach.

Co-Teaching and Team Teaching

  • Idea: Collaborate with another faculty member to co-teach a course or specific class sessions.
  • Why: Co-teaching promotes active learning, encourages sharing of expertise, and allows for the exploration of new teaching strategies. It also benefits students by exposing them to multiple perspectives.

Mentoring Relationships

  • Idea: Establish mentorship partnerships with junior faculty or colleagues seeking guidance in their academic or professional development.
  • Why: Mentorship provides an opportunity to give back to the academic community, share wisdom and experience, and contribute to the success of emerging scholars. It can also be personally fulfilling and help build a supportive network.

Research Collaborations

  • Idea: Collaborate with peers on research projects, grant applications, or publications.
  • Why: Research partnerships increase productivity, provide access to diverse expertise, and can lead to the development of impactful research outcomes. They also offer opportunities for shared funding and resources.


Barnard, Alan, Waveney Croft, Rosemary Irons, Natalie Cuffe, Wasana Bandara, and Pamela Rowntree. "Peer partnership to enhance scholarship of teaching: A case study." Higher Education Research & Development 30, no. 4 (2011): 435-448.

Chester, Andrea. "Peer partnerships in teaching: Evaluation of a voluntary model of professional development in tertiary education." Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2012): 94-108.

Fletcher, Jeffrey A. "Peer observation of teaching: A practical tool in higher education." The Journal of Faculty Development 32, no. 1 (2018): 51-64.
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