Peer-Assisted Reflections on Student Learning or “PAROSL” is a research-based, UCLA program that supports faculty who are interested in (i) incorporating more student-centered, inclusive practices into their teaching and (ii) building their professional teaching portfolios.
PAROSL is different from many peer observation processes in that it is non-evaluative. It is designed to foster collaboration, reflection, and innovation, not to judge an instructor’s practice. Participants receive training in how to conduct a non-evaluative observation and how to support a colleague in authentic reflection about student learning.
For some instructors, COVID-era instruction is full of uncertainty. How do we best support our students as we respond to public-health concerns with flexible course structures and shifts in teaching modality? And how can we carry forward the valuable lessons and innovations we’ve learned thus far? These unusual times have also robbed many of us of opportunities for informal conversations with colleagues about teaching. PAROSL addresses both of these needs by providing a structured process that supports innovation and collaboration.
And for instructors concerned about maintaining a robust teaching portfolio during these unusual times, PAROSL provides an option aligned with recognized components of UCLA’s appointment and promotion processes: evidence of “development of new and effective techniques of instruction, including techniques that meet the needs of students from groups that are underrepresented in the field of instruction.”
Faculty pairs complete their PAROSL cycle over the course of a quarter, meeting several times to observe each other’s lessons and discuss student learning. The centerpiece of the PAROSL cycle is the introduction of an instructor-selected, pedagogical innovation, one that is tailored to the course and the instructor’s goals.
Each pair works with a dedicated PAROSL facilitator who is present throughout the cycle. The facilitator trains participants at the start of the program, attends meetings, and answers any questions participants have during the process. Some faculty choose to consult with their facilitator about their innovation. In this case, the facilitator provides whatever support is requested (e.g., suggestions for possible innovations based on the instructor / course context, relevant on-campus or online resources to support the innovation, etc.).
Upon completion of their PAROSL cycles, faculty summarize their experience, including the innovation they implemented, in a “teaching innovation narrative.” This document is suitable for inclusion in a professional teaching dossier (if the instructor chooses), as is the official certificate of completion awarded at the conclusion of the program.
PAROSL is a cross-campus collaboration among the following UCLA partners:
Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT)
Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences (CEILS)
National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST)
Excellence in Pedagogy and Innovative Classrooms (EPIC)
PAROSL was developed by a collaborative working group at UCLA led by Dr. Glory Tobiason (Clinical Faculty in Education at UCLA and a researcher at CRESST). Financial support over the course of the project has been generously provided by former EVCP Scott Waugh, former Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Pat Turner (in support of UCLA’s ongoing accreditation by WASC Senior College and University Commission), and by UCLA’s EPIC program (with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation under grant number 41500604).
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