Elevate peer support and mentoring

A cropped image of two individuals facing each other, only torsos and arms visibleSometimes our colleagues are the best sources of support. We offer a range of opportunities to access and offer peer support to develop your teaching.

Sources of peer support and mentoring

Elevate mentoring

The Elevate Mentoring Scheme provides collegiate support through 1:1 conversations for colleagues who teach or support learning at the University of Sheffield. The scheme is voluntary, developmental and mentee driven.

Outcomes of the programme for mentees may include:

  • Familiarisation with the UKHE learning and teaching environment
  • Making changes to learning, teaching and assessment practices
  • Support for career planning and options, setting priorities, promotion
  • Getting to grips with scholarship of teaching and learning, publications and conference presentations
  • Support to raise individuals' learning & teaching profile.

For further information about becoming a mentor or mentee, please contact Sarah Moore

Collegiate Observation, Enquiry and Discussion

What is it?

Collegiate Observation, Enquiry and Discussion (COED) is for all staff who teach at the University of Sheffield. It replaces the previous scheme, the Annual Dialogue. The new scheme continues to emphasise the importance of a range of activities besides peer observation of teaching in the development of teaching and learning.

What is the purpose?

COED provides a framework that enables those who are involved in any teaching activity, including supervision of research students, to develop individual and collegiate practice in learning and teaching. In order to provide a high quality learning experience for our students is it essential that teaching staff engage in ongoing professional development in learning and teaching.

Other benefits include:

  • Faculties and departments can collect and report examples of good practice. Staff can be nominated for teaching awards;
  • Areas for improvement can be identified and provision made for appropriate support and development;
  • COED can be incorporated into learning and teaching away days;
  • If appropriate, it could feed into the SRDS process. Records of activities can be included in portfolios for teaching promotions.

What does it involve?

Academic departments are expected to ensure that all staff involved in teaching engage in some form of activity with peers that facilitates the development of learning and teaching practice. This could be through, e.g., some form of peer observation and feedback, through enquiry into your individual practice, to playing an active role in departmental discussions and initiatives on assessment, feedback or other areas that the department is working on. In addition to ensuring that such opportunities are provided for their teaching staff, departments must keep a record of the types of activity carried out. Departmental approaches to COED will be reviewed as part of Periodic Review. Forms for recording your COED activities can be found in the downloads box.

Examples of activities that departments and staff are currently engaged in include:

Dedicated fora for staff to come together to talk about and develop their teaching, e.g., Teaching Circles in Medicine Dentistry and Health and Engineering and Teaching Shorts (EATS) in Engineering.
Participants in the Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (CiLT) or Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching for Learning in Higher Education (PGCertTLHE) have several opportunities to engage in peer observation of teaching as part of the course and have this to say about how useful it is for development:

“The feedback provided by my colleagues was valuable in that it related directly to methods and strategies for teaching and learning in my subject. Some colleagues were experimenting with methods and strategies – very useful to hear about and observe in practice. This helped me learn that it is acceptable to try out new strategies.”

“It was very useful to get feedback from peers. [T]o get the opportunity to see other teaching styles and activities…and to take ideas to consider within my own practice.”

Simple straightforward conversations with colleagues are a valuable, often overlooked source of professional development in all aspects of teaching and learning:

“Some interesting things came from talking to colleagues and seeing things [from] their point of view.”

“I found conversations with colleagues useful, in terms of discussing ideas and practices.”

Is there professional recognition for COED?

Yes - individuals can use COED activities as evidence to support an application for one of the Higher Education Academy’s fellowship categories via the University of Sheffield’s new Learning and Teaching Professional Recognition Scheme (LTPRS). COED is also an opportunity to gather evidence which could be used to nominate colleagues for a Senate Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (if colleagues don’t know about your good teaching, they can’t nominate you).

Student Observation of Teaching

Student Observation of Teaching is an opportunity to have a conversation with an interested and informed student, about your learning and teaching practice.  It brings together student and staff volunteers from different departments, and involves training sessions, regular support, and the opportunity to contribute to ongoing research.  The feedback gathered through the scheme should be of direct benefit to your teaching, potentially to your wider department or Faculty, and of personal use within LTPRS applications and other forms of professional development.

The scheme ran for the first time in 2017-18, and garnered very positive feedback from student and staff participants alike, with them describing it as “exciting”, “fantastic”, and saying “I really enjoyed myself”.  It helped staff engage with a richer understanding of the student perspective than can be gleaned through module evaluation processes; it gave them more confidence in their teaching; and it helped them feel part of a broader community across the University committed to enhancing learning and teaching.  It also had significant benefits to students in terms of enhancing their understanding of what shapes and influences university teaching, and having a clearer sense of where they fit within the institution.

Observations can take several different forms, but are all grounded in developing a trusting relationship with a student partner, so you mutually set the agenda for the observation activity, follow it through, and work together on the feedback generated.  The scheme runs during the spring semester, although you can register your interest at any time. It is organised by Tim Herrick in the School of Education, and you can contact him on t.herrick@sheffield.ac.uk.

More information, including links to an application form, is available through a briefing note.  Some of the 2017/18 participants also participated in a video reflecting on their experiences.