Extension Teaching and Peer Review Letters: Let’s Get Better Together

- Tuesday, October 20, 2020
teaching and feedback

In a post earlier this summer we talked about Extension materials and resources (such as factsheets, bulletins, curriculum, webpages, and other published media like videos and webinars) and the critical role they play in programming. We focused on how the review of such material by peers can help ensure their quality and ultimately make such material and us better. If you missed that post, please see the recently updated Peer Review Guidelines.

Our Extension teaching is an equally important element of our programming effort and its review by peers can help us become better educators too. Extension teaching involves engaging with audiences individually and in groups, face to face and via media. We engage others in a variety of approaches ranging from informal facilitation to formal classroom-type instruction.

OSU’s Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) takes teaching seriously. Enough so that all teaching faculty receive formal evaluation by peers. To address this requirement in Extension, all A&P and faculty educators and specialists are to arrange for at least one peer evaluation of teaching annually. See the recently updated guidelines here.

What’s the goal? To get better. That means we can’t be afraid to offer constructive and useful feedback as a peer reviewer and identify specific suggestions for improvement. As an instructor, we need to seek out peers who possess a level of expertise needed to provide helpful feedback. Among all the colleagues you have observed engaging with others, who do you most want to emulate? Who has a reputation for being an outstanding teacher? One change that should make finding your next peer reviewer easier: Your annual letter from a peer of an equal or higher rank is not required but should be the practice to the extent possible, especially for faculty pursuing promotion.

Let’s get serious about evaluating our teaching, whatever form our Extension teaching may take. Be a reviewer who offers up valuable feedback. And be a teacher that seeks out high-quality insights.

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