Janet Stemwedel’s latest post opens,

One of our professional duties in my department is sitting in on colleagues’ classes and writing peer-reviews of their teaching. This is almost always a useful activity, and I usually learn a teaching trick or two that I might be able to use in my own classes.

Reading this, I wondered what lecturers think of this practice, esp. those in New Zealand.

Does your department or university practice peer assessment amongst lecturers?

Do you think you learn from this?

If it’s not done, do you think that it’d help?

I can’t speak from experience as a lecturer, as I’ve only had research-only positions, but I did sit in on a fourth-year course a few years back. I found myself not only learning the material,* but also looking at the lecturing styles, particularly as it was a new department for me. My taught courses as an undergraduate were in microbiology/genetics and computer science, with a mixture of other courses such as statistics and chemistry. As anyone who has been to university will know, each departments, fields and lecturers, have their own teaching style to varying degrees.

Thinking about the presentation style, how they interacted with the students, how the students benefited (or not) was something I took away in addition to the course itself.

The main focus of Janet’s article is wishing that there were a switch to switch off wireless access to the internet within lecture rooms. You might wish to join in her discussion on that. I can imagine many will have some thoughts on that matter…


* Cognitive neuroscience, a fascinating subject.

Other articles on Code for life:

What aspects of biology need to be explained better?

New Zealand science and science education policy news

Career paths, redux – the academic research career is the exception

Immunisation, then and now

Professor Richard Quinn responds to exam cheats