Peer observation has been demonstrated to be an effective tool for the enhancement of teaching, leading to improvements in student outcomes and experience (Bell, 2001; Carbone, 2011; Nash & Barnard, 2013).
Peer observation supports teachers to:
As a teacher involved in peer observation you receive feedback about your teaching and how your students are engaging in your class. You also get a focused opportunity to talk about your teaching and evidence to add to your portfolio.
As an observer participating in peer observation you may:
As an observer of teaching in peer observation you see teaching and how students are engaging in other classes, providing opportunities for reflection and ideas to implement in your teaching. You also get a focused opportunity to talk about teaching with a colleague at UQ.
At UQ staff have identified benefits to engaging with peer observation including:
Peer observation can stimulate collegial conversations about teaching. This may lead to a more open and ‘sharing’ spirit as well as an increased focus and appreciation for teaching, and the creation of cohesive teaching teams.
Student learning opportunities may be increased as a result of informed and improved teaching practice.
Peer observation may lead to a shared understanding of curriculum goals and outcomes, and subsequent aligned teaching strategies. This may support and assist accreditation processes.
In addition to SECaTs, written feedback from peer observation can provide another source of data to support annual performance appraisal and application for promotion and awards.
While different peer observation models can serve different purposes at different career stages, supportive processes with constructive suggestions about teaching can inspire confidence and improvement of teaching practices leading to enhanced learning outcomes and student experience.
Peer observation may be particularly helpful for new teaching staff. It may also be beneficial for the observer as they may learn from what others are doing, consider new ways of thinking about teaching and subject matter, and generally refresh their own approach in the process of reflecting on others’ practice.
Most universities in Australia, including Go8 institutions, have a more formal and supported approach to peer observation of teaching. This pattern is matched in many of the world’s most prestigious universities (including UC Berkley, CALTECH, University of Cambridge, Harvard University, University of Toronto).
Bell, M. (2001). Supported reflective practice: A programme of peer observation and feedback for academic development. International Journal for Academic Development, 6(1), 21-28.
Carbone, A. (2011). Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (Final Report) NSW: Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Retrieved from http://vera195.its.monash.edu.au/pluginfile.php/79/mod_page/content/28/ALTC%20Final%20Report%202011.pdf
Nash, R., & Barnard, A. (2013). Developing a culture of peer review of teaching through a distributive leadership approach (final report). Sydney: Office for Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/70892/1/LE11_1980_Nash_Report_2014.pdf