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The process of peer observation of teaching
- You decide what sort of teaching/learning is going to be observed.
All forms of teaching can be considered for review, not just lecturing. It is intended that observations should be of a classroom-based or e-moderating session. This could be a lecture, tutorial, laboratory, clinic, studio, practice or work-based learning session.
- You choose your own peer observer.
Normally the intention is that you choose a different peer observer for each session reviewed to optimise the sharing of experience. In selecting observers, you might ask colleagues from your own subject group or similar but could also consider approaching staff from different areas or faculties. If you would like assistance finding someone contact ITaLI. The College of Peer Observers are also willing to act as observers (contact ITaLI).
- You meet to set the scene.
You arrange a brief ‘pre-meeting’ with your chosen observer in advance of the session to be observed to explain its context and objectives and to agree on any particular focus for the observation. For lengthy sessions, for example teaching taking place in a studio, you should negotiate the duration of the observation with your observer.
- You plan with your observer your feedback agenda.
At the ‘pre-meeting’ you plan the date, time and duration of the observation, and you also plan ahead for a ‘post-meeting’ after the observation so you can get feedback, which should be constructive, focused, supportive and developmental. You choose with your observer a framework for the recording of appropriate observations for your session. Form 1 provides a possible framework for feedback but this is only one suggested format and is designed primarily for observation of a classroom-based session. You (and your observer) can adapt this for other forms of teaching as appropriate. There are many alternative formats available to explore on this site.
- You do your bit – your observation takes place.
Your observer uses the agreed agenda as a basis for recording observations and suggestions during your session, and prepares to bring this back to discuss at the ‘post-meeting’ referred to above.
- The two of you meet for the ‘post-meeting’.
This meeting should be soon but not immediately following the observed session. It is a good idea for the session to be fresh in your mind but also for you to have some time to reflect. During the feedback discussion, aspects of good practice and developmental needs will be shared. It is your observer’s role to assist you in the process of review and reflection with the aim of improving the quality of your teaching as well as highlighting good practice for wider dissemination.
- Plan some action.
Throughout the process of peer observation you will learn more about your teaching and how your students are learning. Take some time to plan ways to improve your courses.
- A. You send in the basic data of the observation.
After the ‘post-meeting’, you fill in the online record: simply supply the date, location and nature of the observation session and the type of the observer, thereby recording that the observation has taken place. You are welcome to provide any generic feedback points for dissemination more widely.
B. If desired you can negotiate with your observer to write a short review of your teaching to be provided to you and confidentially to ITaLI, this form becomes verifyable evidence about your teaching. You can provide this information to confirmation, annual appraisal, promotions and selection committees. ITaLI will release this information only on your request.
At the end of semester, ITaLI collates a record of peer reviews completed by staff, comprising:
- dates of observations and locations
- types of staff observing
- nature of sessions (e.g. lectures, seminars, tutorials, practicals and so on).
In addition, ITaLI and The College of Peer Observers are expected to compile and share a separate anonymous summary of general areas of good practice and development needs arising from the peer observations they oversee.