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The courage to be vulnerable: exploring experiences of peer and self-assessment of teaching in nursing education

Authors Tanner JD, Rosenau PA, Clancy TL, Rutherford GE

Received 22 June 2016

Accepted for publication 11 November 2016

Published 7 February 2017 Volume 2017:7 Pages 17—28


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Cindy Hudson

Jennifer D Tanner, Patricia A Rosenau, Tracey L Clancy, Gayle E Rutherford

Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

Background: Within academia, more than one measure of assessment is required to ensure teaching success and ongoing teaching development. Peer assessment of teaching is one of the methods that can benefit teaching development; however, there is currently a lack of nursing research literature regarding the processes, outcomes, and use of self-reflection in the peer assessment process. In the spring and summer of 2015, the development and implementation of a tailored pilot project of peer and self-assessment of teaching occurred within an undergraduate nursing program at a Western Canadian university. The overarching philosophy of the pilot project of peer and self assessment was one of using peer to peer developmental feedback as a means of creating a community of support for professional teaching development. The study reported on in this paper is an initial step in addressing a lack of research literature within the field of nursing to support the practice of peer assessment of teaching as a sustainable and effective means of offering teaching development support.
Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of teaching faculty participants in the pilot project of peer and self-assessment of teaching.
Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was employed to explore the experiences of pilot participants. Focus group discussions and individual interviews were used to gather data.
Participants: A total of 12 nursing educators involved in the pilot project participated in the study.
Findings: Conventional content analysis of the combined data rendered themes around vulnerability and the influence and importance of establishing trust in selecting a partner, making teaching public, improving teaching practice, and maintaining accountability and responsibility.
Conclusion: Peer and self-assessment of teaching has the potential to benefit professional teaching development in nursing education. Both peers within a peer and self-assessment partnership can experience feelings of vulnerability. Having the courage to be vulnerable or identifying and overcoming vulnerabilities and establishing trust with a teaching colleague can result in mutual learning, can benefit individual and team growth, and can enhance accountability to the undergraduate nursing curriculum and student learning.

Keywords: professional development, qualitative study, nursing faculty, self-reflection, peer assessment

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