Establishing a National Board for the Peer Review of Scholarly Teaching: A Proposal for the Society of Park and Recreation Educators

Article excerpt


This proposal calls for SPRE to establish a National Board for the Peer Review of Scholarly Teaching in Park, Recreation, and Tourism Management. The goal is to establish a mechanism for increasing the weight given to scholarly teaching in major personnel decisions. Scholarly, teaching is differentiated from "good teaching" in that the faculty member has conscientiously applied the process of scholarship to improve learning outcomes. Participation in this review process would be voluntary.

A review is recommended only for those faculty members who engage in scholarly teaching and are employed at an institution that will value the review. The Board would be comprised of award-winning instructors who have an established record of scholarly teaching and represent the varied sub-fields in PRTM. Upon request by an individual faculty member anticipating a significant performance review (e.g. reappointment/promotion/tenure, major teaching award), members of the Board would review the instructor's teaching portfolio and provide an official response. The response would not identify reviewers, thereby approximating the blind review process followed in research publications. The process would begin with review of a pre-proposal that would provide the faculty member with feedback on the probability of success and guidance on preparing the full portfolio. In the proposal, potential problems with a national board are identified, challenges interpreting "scholarship" in teaching are discussed, and processes for implementation are suggested.


The SPRE Board has endorsed this proposal to create a board for blind peer review of scholarly teaching for faculty in RLS in concept. However, SPRE wants feedback from educators and administrators before deciding whether to invest resources in this undertaking. Please send your comments on:

* need for a peer review board for scholarly teachers in RLS

* comments on feasibility

* suggestions for operational guidelines, such as how would reviewers be selected?

SPRE Committee for Peer Review of Scholarly Teaching Contacts: Cheryl Stevens, Chair email: phone: (252) 328-4638 Craig Ross, Vice Chair email: phone: 812-855-3102

Over the past several decades, there has been a great deal of emphasis on the importance of college teaching and learning. Howard Shapiro (2006) depicted these positive trends as the "glass half-full" side of the story. Unfortunately, the thrust of his article concerned how little progress we've made in honoring faculty members' teaching accomplishments as we do their research.

While colleges and universities have changed promotion and tenure policies, created teaching centers, focused on assessing student learning, and in other ways raised the attention paid to good instruction, evaluating teaching remains a knotty challenge. In part because evaluating faculty members' work as teachers is seen as more difficult than evaluating their work as researchers, faculty reward systems continue to favor research over teaching.

In this article, the authors propose that the Society of Park and Recreation Educators (SPRE) create a national board that provides blind peer review of scholarly teaching for qualified teachers in park, recreation and leisure studies. We believe such a board can play an important role in strengthening faculty teaching and student learning in our profession, and potentially across other disciplines as well.

Origins of Proposal

The idea for national boards emerged from the first author's five-year experience as founding director of a campus-wide instructional development center at NC State University. In addition to developing various teaching improvement programs, he worked with others to make the faculty reward system more supportive of teaching, reasoning that the center would fulfill its potential only if instructors believed their efforts to improve their teaching in scholarly ways would be rewarded through merit pay, re-appointment and tenure and promotion. …


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