Academic development: Formative Peer Review

At UniSA ‘Formative Peer Review’ refers to a collegial, non-evaluative process for peer review of teaching.

The process involves the formation of a confidential partnership between two or more academics who teach. Within the partnership, one member reviews the other's teaching practice, or an aspect of their teaching design, and gives feedback. Ideally, this process should be reciprocated.

This is a capacity building activity where people learn through receiving feedback as well as by watching their partner(s) teach.

Formative Peer Review is a scholarly activity and may be used for many purposes such as: 

  • building teaching ability
  • creating collegial relationships
  • obtaining evidence
  • learning from colleagues

It is not appropriate to use Formative Peer Review to judge or evaluate.  
Note: The choice of a reviewer will depend on your intention. If you are seeking a 'critical friend' the choice of the reviewer is less significant than if you are seeking objective evidence. When seeking objective evidence, the reviewer should be someone who is recognised in the Teaching and Learning space and not perceived as 'close' to you.

Formative Peer Review Process

Formative Peer review requires a relationship built on collegiality, confidentiality, and trust. For this reason there are a few principles all people involved in the review must agree to.  

  1. Principle of Ownership
    The Peer Review is owned  by the person being reviewed. 
  2. Principle of Confidentiality
    Peer Reviews are strictly confidential, and no aspect of the Peer Review can be discussed without the permission of the owner. (see above)

  3. Principle of choice
    Each member mush enter the Peer Review without coercion from management.
  4. Principle of reciprocity
    Unless agreed otherwise there is an expectation that members will both ‘give’ and ‘receive’. 

Phase 1: Find a dimension and a focus 

Phase 2: Observe the teaching  

  • Choose no more than 3 aspects of your teaching that you would like to be reviewed.
  • Discuss and agree with your reviewer.  
  • The reviewer observes the teaching and makes specific comments relative to the chosen dimensions. General comments are also documented. 

Form for use (Phase 1 and 2): Dimensions and Review

Phase 3: Reflection and action

  • The reviewer can step back now.
  • Reflect on your feedback and identify how you plan to action it. You may want to clarify any comments that were unclear in the feedback. 

Form for use: Reflection

Phase 4: Implement and evaluate

  • How did the changes go?  
  • How do you know?  
  • What evidence do you need to ascertain whether this was successful? 
  • Do you need another review?  

Form for use: Implement 

The following templates can be used to assist in the Formative Peer Review process.

  1. Dimensions and Review
  2. Reflection
  3. Implement


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Core concepts, quizzes and online lessons: To adapt your teaching requires a commitment to developing your skill-set and possibly collaborating with the TIU.

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