Appraising your teaching:peer and development observation Jackie Gresham Clare Milsom Academic Enhancement Unit
Overall Aims of the Session To explore the role of observation in the development of professional practice Outcomes By the end of the session course members should be able to: appraise the role of observation in the evaluation of teaching effectiveness identify some of the advantages of observation recognise potential issues relating to observation and minimise difficulties discuss different aspects of observation e.g. staff development, quality management and how to balance these
Why not simply rely on student feedback? Non –instruction biases in student evaluations of teaching Plus: power relationship - revenge, protection, suppression Course Tutor Class size Difficulty Workload Professionalism Experience Charisma Age Gender Warmth Attractiveness First language Student Grade
Effective teaching observation “We close the classroom door and experience pedagogical solitude whereas in our life as scholars we are members of active communities…(where we) exchange our findings, and methods and our excuses”. (Shulman, 1993:6) ‘The camaraderie and collegiality developed through shared experiences is not to be underestimated in what can at times be an individual and somewhat isolating teaching journey’ (Atkinson and Bolt 2010) ‘...we need to provide the climate and opportunity to talk about teaching’ (Donnelly 2007, 127)
‘those who will be evaluated should feel that they have more to gain than loose formative benefits more likely to be realised in a constructive and collegial climate’ (Ackerman et al. 2009) “the power of peer observation resides in its developmental and collegial orientation and its exposure of colleagues to affirmation, constructive criticism, and the experience of how others teach differently” (Marshall 2004, 187) “The benefits of sharing practice and engaging in critical discourse with peers had a dramatic effect on perceptions of ‘lecturing’ within our institution – to the real benefit of the learners placed in our care. A principled and values-based approach to ‘professional conversation’ pays real dividends driving up standards within a community of practice.” SymonQuy, NTF, Central School of Speech and Drama
You must be observed by a trained faculty observer
Teaching Observation Criteria Scales (notes p.33) Preparation: DDA/SENDA Structure and organisation Content Interaction Delivery and process Pace and timing Level Learning resources Audibility Enthusiasm and interest Supporting Disabled Students: A Guide for Academic Staff
Quick activity Read through the teaching observation criteria If you have any queries ask colleagues on your table. If no one can answer – ask another table If no one can ask write down 10 minutes total
You have recently been observed by a colleague. All went well and you received some constructive feedback. You have since sat in on one of his lectures and are due to meet him tomorrow to discuss the session. Your colleague has mentioned in passing that he was very pleased with the session, which concerns you as you are struggling to find positive things to say when you meet. In particular, you noticed that the students were clearly bored and disengaged, sending text messages, yawning etc. One student was asleep. There were a great many Powerpoint slides, mostly text, which your colleague read from. His delivery was monotonous and you thought he covered a great deal of ground without checking understanding. How will you deal with the feedback?
You recently sat in on a colleague’s seminar. The students were lively and engaged but undisciplined, and your colleague struggled to keep the session on track. She had told you what the planned outcomes were beforehand but she could not achieve them because the students took control and led the seminar into other areas. A lot of the planned work could therefore not be completed but she remarked to you at the end of the session that she would ‘pick it up next time’. Your colleague has very decided views on the role of staff as facilitators of learning, but you think she simply let them do what they wanted. What do you think is the best way to approach the feedback with her?
You have recently been observed by a very experienced colleague in your Faculty. To your dismay, although he was very nice to you in the feedback meeting, you realised that he thought the seminar he observed was weak, although you thought it went reasonably well. He seemed to you to have a couple of ‘hobbyhorses’ which he kept coming back to in the feedback, one being the round-up at the end of the seminar which he thought was ‘woolly’ and the other being your tendency to say ‘OK’ too often. Neither of these seems to you to be significant issues although you understand why he thought the last part of the seminar was unsatisfactory. You’d asked him prior to the observation to look at how you engaged the quieter students in the group, but when you asked him about that he quickly brought the discussion back to the ‘OK’ issue. You’re worried that this may affect the way your teaching is perceived. What should you do about it?
Your School has decided to focus on lecturing in observations this year. You would really prefer to have another aspect of your teaching observed – small group teaching for example. You aren’t worried about your lectures – quite the contrary – but you think that from a developmental perspective you would benefit far more from being able to choose what is observed. How should you approach this with your proposed observer?
You opted to bring a camera into your classroom and record your lesson and then to discuss the recording with your observer. This was agreed between you without any problem but now you have viewed the recording you really don’t want the observer to see it; you think there are too many things you are unhappy with and would do better another time. Your observer is pushing you to go ahead as planned, saying that the whole point of the observation is to give you the chance to reflect on your practice and learn from any ‘mistakes’. You don’t agree; you’ve learnt from it already and don’t need a discussion about things that you will probably feel embarrassed about. How should you deal with this?
Observation for developmental purposes ‘Observation of teaching aims to develop and enhance effective practice and to provide a springboard for further development through shared reflection and in some cases through action research.’ (p.226) ‘.. it is an opportunity to validate what is working well, to exchange practical ideas, to solve problems and to explore and align practice with a developing understanding of theory, as well as to learn from the practice of others. It is an opportunity to gain confidence and competence.’ (p.227) Fullerton, H. (2003) Observation of teaching. In Fry, H. et al. Handbook for learning and teaching in higher education. 2nd edition. London, Kogan Page.
Observation for quality review and enhancement purposes Common reasons given for using observation for these purposes:
It enables an overview of teaching in the HEI to be obtained
It enables good practice to be identified with a view to dissemination
It enables good teaching to be recognised and (possibly) rewarded
It enables weak teaching to be identified and staff to be supported to improve
It provides triangulation with other evaluative procedures, e.g. student satisfaction surveys, module and programme appraisals
It demonstrates to students that the quality of the teaching they receive is monitored/ considered important
It provides evidence to external agencies e.g. QAA that teaching is ‘quality assured’
It forms part of an HEI’s approach to performance management of academic staff
LJMU Learning and Teaching Framework 2011-12: observation of teaching (developmental)
References: Ackerman D., Gross B., Vigneron F. (2009) Peer Observation Reports and Student Evaluations of Teaching: Who Are the Experts? The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 55(1), 18-39. Atkinson D.J., Bolt S. (2010) Using Teaching Observations to Reflect Upon and Improve Teaching Practice in Higher Education, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning , 10(3), 1-19. Byrne J., Brown H. and Challen D. (2010) Peer development as an alternative to peer observation: a tool to enhance professional development. International Journal for Academic Development, 15, (3), 215-228. Donnelly, R. (2007) Perceived Impact of Peer Observation of Teaching in Higher Education International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 19(2), 117-129 Gosling D. (2002) 'Models of Peer Observation of Teaching', http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/id200_Models_of_Peer_Observatio n_of_Teaching Marshall, B. (2004). Learning from the Academy: From peer observation of teaching to peer enhancement of learning and teaching. The Journal of Adult Theological Education, 1(2), 185-204. Shortland S. (2010) Feedback within peer observation: continuing professional development and unexpected consequences. Innovations in Education and Teaching International , 47 (3), 295-304.