Project Details

This one-year University of Otago project investigated using Teaching and Learning Circles (TLC) to enhance teaching practice and culture in Higher Education. The Teaching and Learning Circles is a voluntary, non-evaluative, reciprocal peer observation of teaching with an emphasis on collegial dialogue and self-reflection.



This project sought to answer the following question: To what extent, or in what ways, does the Teaching and Learning Circles (TLC) initiative influence teaching practice and culture?

It aimed to provide a peer observation of teaching framework that can be implemented at any tertiary institution seeking to enhance teaching practice and foster improved teaching culture.


This project used survey and interview data, as well as data from teachers' reflective notes and teaching portfolios.

Participants included TLC members from semester one and two, academic committee members, and departmental teaching committee leaders.


university of otago

Dr. Tracy Rogers

Project Leader

University of Otago
university of otago

Associate Professor Clinton Golding

University of Otago
university of otago

Dr Rob Wass

University of Otago
university of otago

Dr Julie Timmermans

University of Otago




$25,141.00 (excl GST)

$10,000.00 Regional Hub Project Fund
$15,141.00 University of Otago

Key Findings

The participants believed that Teaching and Learning Circles have the potential to enrich teaching culture with four themes emerging to illustrate how this may occur:

  • Collegial conversations about teaching
  • Observations of teaching and self-reflection
  • Non-evaluative feedback on teaching
  • Changes to teaching practice

Key Recommendations

Drawing on participant feedback, it is recommended that the following aspects be included in the framework of a Teaching and Learning Circles programme:

  • TLC members should be given autonomy to decide the purpose and structure of their TLC (i.e. members can decide whether to seek feedback on their teaching or not).
  • Departmental and Divisional leadership is crucial for the promotion and sustainability of the programme.
  • A co-ordinator is required to oversee the administrative tasks of forming Teaching and Learning Circles, and provide information and support to TLC members (or potential members).
  • Participation in Teaching and Learning Circles must be voluntary, and any data generated from the observations must remain the property of individual TLC members.
  • Three members per TLC appears to be the ideal number for managing time constraints and workload. However, a TLC may have four members if teachers’ schedules permit.
  • Ideally, observations should take place in the first five weeks of semester, before workload increases with the likes of assessment marking.


A framework for enhancing teaching culture and practice report

This report explains the background to the project, 'A framework for enhancing teaching culture and practice' and explains the findings and recommendations.

(PDF, 424 KB, 17-pages).

  • 30 August 2019
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RESOURCE KIT | A framework for enhancing teaching culture and practice

This resource pack provides information about the purpose and proposed process of Teaching and Learning Circles and includes some handy forms to guide you through the process.

(PDF, 388 KB, 12-pages).

  • 30 August 2019
Read more