PeTS; Faculty Peer Mentoring in Teaching and Supervision
Innovation of teacher collaboration practices in Norwegian higher education
About the project
Teaching and supervision in higher education are activities that teachers often perform alone. We also know that successful academic communities with quality-learning environments tend to have strong collaborative and knowledge sharing traditions. In the PeTS project, we examine how we can enhance and support the development of such collaborative environments based on organized peer mentoring. The project explores how two specific peer-mentoring models are practiced and how this contributes to the sharing of experiences and development of insights into teaching and supervision among colleagues. Four academic communities at the University of Oslo have signed up as partners in the project, where we observe the peer mentoring and how this evolves in the four partner communities. The project draws on a qualitative research design where we observe peer mentoring sessions and analyze conversations in order to more fully understand how and to what extent peer mentoring can contribute to the development of supportive collaborative teaching and supervision practices in higher education.
The project follows the implementation of two peer-mentoring models: Problem-based peer mentoring (PPM) and Observation-based peer mentoring (OPM). The PPM model is a framework accommodating discussions of work related challenges participants may experience, especially related to teaching and supervision. The OPM model is based on observations of teaching, where peers discuss and give feedback on each-others performed lessons. Both models encourage and support reflective discussions in a safe collegial environment in the respective groups.
The overall goals of the project:
- Develop faculty-based collaboration among peers related to teaching and supervision
- Investigate both affordances and restrains of the peer mentoring models (PPM and OPM) in supporting the development of collaborative communities
- Gain new insights about peer mentoring that contribute to the organisation of supportive faculty development measures in higher education
The peer mentoring models we use in the PeTS project are based on a ‘collaborative perspective’. This means that the teachers commit to contribute to all discussions and reflection on challenges and solutions presented in the group.
Below we summarize some overall results from the project:
Peer mentoring contributes to learning and increased self-confidence in the roles of teacher and supervisor: This applies whether the mentoring groups consist of teachers from the same field or across disciplines. A general observation when teachers participate in the peer mentoring initiative is also reduced experiences of isolation and privatization and stronger feelings of collegiality
Institutional involvement makes a difference: Support and backing by leadership and management is important for this type of pedagogical initiative. Furthermore, it is recommended that the leadership and management set aside sufficient time and resources to compensate the participants for time spend, and that the organizers of the initiative receive support in the implementation.
Participants must develop ownership of the collaboration. The participants need time to establish a constructive dynamic within the groups, learn how to practice the peer-mentoring model and need sufficient time for in-depth discussions of each case. The groups also need sufficient flexibility to adapt the peer mentoring models in accordance with the context and the participants’ needs. A clear collaborative framework and conversational rules are important in keeping focus and progress during group discussions.
Formative design: Our findings suggest that the participants appreciate a purely formative and supportive purpose related to peer mentoring. Peer mentoring as a summative and quality assurance measure is on the other hand considered as less desirable.
Following four academic teaching communities at the University in Oslo participated:
- PhD supervision at the Faculty of Medicine
- Master supervision at the Faculty of Humanities
- Teaching at a professional program in pharmacy
- Teaching at a professional program in theology
Funded by The Norwegian Research Council`s FINNUT program (Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector)