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Teaching-Related Feedback and Mentoring

Class Observation

Class Observation

Observation of class by a colleague can provide faculty valuable exchanges of ideas and approaches to a variety of teaching and learning situations. The class observation program is designed to help teachers improve instruction in the classrooms and laboratories to enhance student learning.

Purpose

There are three main purposes for Requesting Class Observation:

  • for your own professional development
  • performance management
  • as evidence of quality teaching

An effective observation scheme is expected to improve the effectiveness and quality of teaching as well as students' learning experience. The goal of class observation is to provide faculty with the opportunity to develop and grow as a teacher in relation to the individual faculty member's own starting point in teaching.

Process

1. Defining the Purpose

The key to a successful observation is mutual trust and respect between faculty and the Consultant/Mentor. The observing Consultant/Mentor will not impose any particular purpose of class observation on faculty. In fact, faculty decides about the purpose of class observation. The purpose of a class observation can have various dimensions. Faculty may want to know whether the delivery of lecture content was clear or a particular group activity promoted student involvement in the subject. While faculty may have a specific purpose associated with class observation, it is also possible to request a general class observation, where the observer uses his/her own criteria to comment on the class. Additionally, the observer will assist faculty to establish a clear purpose of the observation, if faculty chooses to do so.

2. Choosing an Observer

In order for an instructor to experience a range of different ideas and feedback over time, a change of the observing Consultant/Mentor is recommended.

3. Frequency of Observation

A minimum of one observed session per year for each instructor is recommended. However, you may request multiple observations depending on your needs.

4. Time to Request Observation

It is recommended that faculty request class observations at least five weeks into the semester and no later than 10 weeks into the semester (see Request Form ). This allows for a more effective use of feedback to improve your teaching and enhance student learning.

5. Activities to be Observed

A range of activities which constitute "teaching" can be observed. Commonly, such activities would include lectures, small group sessions, and practical classes. For those involved in large amounts of one-to-one teaching or distance learning delivery, thought will be given to the most effective and appropriate style of observation.

6. Instruments

Planning and implementing a systematic approach to class observation reduces bias and unreliability. The three most common instruments used in class observations are checklists, rating scales, and open-ended narratives (written analysis). The use of a combination of instruments is preferred to reduce bias. Faculty and the observer can talk about the possible instruments that will be used during class observation.

7. Types and Uses of Feedback

As in the case of other services in the Peer Consulting/Mentoring Program , the results of class observation are unequivocally confidential. Observation results are kept confidential between faculty and the observer, unless faculty wishes to share this information.

Faculty may choose to receive a written statement for a number of reasons. For example, faculty may want to include the statement in his/her annual report or other performance-related dossier to demonstrate teaching effectiveness. Faculty may also choose to discuss the results with the observer without any written document. Independent of faculty's decision regarding the feedback method, the observer will never share the content of feedback or faculty's identity in a verbal or written fashion.

Good feedback should help faculty develop an action plan for personal development and could lead to an agreement between faculty and the observer to employ another observation as a way of discussing faculty's progress in teaching.

8. Observation Process

It is important to reiterate that the Consultant/Mentor will work with the faculty who requests a class observation. If faculty requests a class observation, a pre-conference will be scheduled so that faculty can convey his/her ideas regarding class observation to the Consultant/Mentor.

To request Class Observation fill out the Request Form .