Introduction: The Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (PATS) is professional development program for academics that provides a structured framework for reinvigorating units and courses and focuses on units and their teachers. PATS was initially developed at Monash University, as a Faculty strategy to improve students’ learning experience by identifying units for targeted remediation, based on low satisfaction student evaluation reports. This driver influenced the initial design of the program, structured to provide an individual teacher with professional development opportunities and with a mentor and a defined process: planning improvement to their unit, implementing the change, and analysing peer and student feedback to measure outcomes. The PATS process has clearly defined activities (for example goal setting, peer observation of teaching, professional development workshops) and a semester-based timeframe. The purpose of a PATS program is quality improvement (QI) of a single unit; people who participate are the individual academic responsible for the unit, supported by a peer partnership with various forms of mentoring (including peer-to-peer). PATS has been disseminated through an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Senior Teaching Fellowship and, in 2015, an OLT extension grant funded a project titled, Adapting and Extending PATS: variations on purpose, people and process was established to collate case studies of implementations of PATS variations from four partner universities. Method: This paper presents a framework for varying the PATS program from the original design without compromising its integrity. The framework is based on analysis of the PATS program in relation to cases of PATS adopted within Monash University and other institutions. Variations of PATS have been analysed to identify the defining features, or core elements, of PATS and the dimensions of variation. The 3P3V matrix articulates three primary dimensions of variation identified in the analysis: Purpose, People and Process, and three variations (3V) for each ‘P’ dimension. The matrix was tested as a structure for case description and a template developed as a tool to design or describe a PATS variation. Results: The essence of what makes PATS ‘work’ for teachers is captured in the framework and it provides a method for designing a PATS implementation that takes into account local context; overcomes barriers; takes advantage of opportunities and priorities, and can be measured for impact and effectiveness. A PATS program is intended to encourage critical reflective practice and provide a social context in which academics can interrogate their teaching practice, engage in scholarship, and identify opportunities for improvement in curriculum, teaching and student learning. The framework embeds SoTL by adopting a multi-theoretical approach. The primary lenses used to analyse the social processes and outcomes of PATS variations are: 1) mentoring; 2) agency/identity and 3) distributive leadership. The use of each lens is dependent on the scale of the PATS implementation driven by the particular purpose framing the use of the variation. Conclusion: The paper concludes with a general discussion on the challenges of ‘leadership’: how PATS is (or can be) implemented in an institution and the recommendations that have been distilled from the collective experience of the project partners.
12th International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Annual Conference, Melbourne, Australia 27-30 October 2015
Proceedings of the 12th International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Annual Conference / pp.59-60