P01 Peer Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (PETAL)

Project Status: Project Open

Benefit Review scheduled for December 2014

Benefits legacy

Peer Enhancement of Teaching, Assessment and Learning (PETAL) is a mechanism to achieve the University’s aim for all those who teach to engage in annual professional development in their teaching in order to enhance the student learning experience. The distinctive feature of PETAL is that it focuses on team discussion, team learning and team action in order to progress a specific area of enhancement over the course of one academic year.

The University has moved from a situation where a variety of teaching observation schemes were in operation and implementation was individualised, episodic and uptake and impact was patchy, to a universal framework that operates under local leadership, and brings together programme enhancement and professional development in teaching. PETAL has a light-touch, future-focused reporting requirement that fosters collegiality and encourages innovation.

It is envisaged that the implementation of PETAL is also enabling:

  • Improved response at programme level to internal and external drivers for change  
  • Increased recognition for good leadership of teaching development
  • Greater focus on team enhancement and programme-level improvements
  • More effective engagement of students in enhancement activities
  • Greater support for academic development of staff through scholarship and enquiry in a collegial setting.

PETAL is aligned with national trends to professionalise teaching in higher education. Strategically, PETAL encourages dialogue about teaching with and between colleagues and students, thus improving understanding about effective and contemporary teaching and learning, and enabling greater capacity to evaluate teaching and increasing agility to adapt appropriately under changing circumstances.

The design of PETAL is such that there is potential cost avoidance by enhancing working practices through integrated and shared professional development rather than requiring engagement in discrete and additional activities.


Project synopsis

The aim of this project is to develop and implement a peer enhancement scheme through which all staff who teach can undergo annual professional development in their teaching with the aim of enhancing the student learning experience. PETAL therefore impacts on a large proportion of Brookes' staff.
The PETAL scheme guides colleagues in renewing their teaching practices, in line with the UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching in Higher Education.
There are three core strands to peer enhancement through the scheme, namely:

  • Teaching enhancement as a team development,
  • Engagement of students in teaching enhancement,
  • Scholarly approaches to teaching.

The scheme operates at a local level, with oversight from Subject Co-ordinators or Programme Leads, and in a few instances Heads of Department. The team's engagement with peer enhancement activities should be visible in the outcomes of those activities and their discussion at Subject Committee, and is accounted for individually through the PDR process.

Key project milestones

  • Consultation and design of PETAL scheme - May 2011-12
  • PETAL scheme approved by AESC - May 2012
  • Approval of redesigned Personal Development Review paperwork and training - May 2012
  • Launch of PETAL website and training package - June 2012
  • PETAL becomes a standing item on Subject Committee meetings - September 2012
  • Interim evaluation and amended guidance issued - May 2013
  • Evaluation report on impact - July 2014
  • Re-launch of PETAL website and support materials - July 2014
  • Project becomes business as usual - December 2014


Project Sponsor Brian Marshall, AD Student Experience

Project Manager Frances Deepwell, OCSLD Educational Development Consultant