Peer Observation of Teaching
At the Lucas Center we view peer observation of teaching (POT) as an effective mechanism for assisting faculty to achieve their professional goals related to the art and science of teaching. Research strongly suggests that POT (being observed and observing others) can provide an opportunity for collegial conversations about teaching, while also enabling reflective practice and providing opportunities for the provision of developmental advice (Drew et al., 2016; Hammersley-Fletcher & Orsmond, 2005; Hendry & Oliver, 2012; Pressick-Kilborn & te Riele, 2008).
In order to most closely align POT with the mission, vision, and goals of the Lucas Center, we employ a coaching model that conceptualizes POT as a formative, collaborative, and developmental series of activities conducted between a Lucas Center representative and a faculty member who wishes to engage in a dialogue about her/his teaching (in contrast to a summative, more formally evaluative approach used by some institutions). In this spirit of mutuality, all observers commit to opening their classrooms to observation by those they observe.
Despite our intention to enact a process that is useful and fulfilling for both the faculty member being observed and the observer, we acknowledge that vulnerability and concerns about judgment are inherent in the process. Therefore, we ensure that confidentiality is built into the POT procedure, and written reports are provided directly and only to the observed faculty members when requested. Peer observers are encouraged to share their experiences of and feelings about being observed in their own classes in order to foster trust and mutuality in the observation process.
The Lucas Center will not provide letters or reports attesting to the quality or effectiveness of one’s teaching based on a single observation. However, when faculty members provide a clear set of learning objectives for a given lesson during the pre-observation meeting, observers can comment on the extent to which those objectives have been achieved.
Faculty wishing to schedule an observation should follow these steps.
- At least three weeks before the class session you would like observed, contact the Lucas Center to ensure an observer is available and to arrange a pre-observation consultation.
- Email your observer the course syllabus and any materials you believe would help her/him better understand your goals for the class and how you intend to accomplish them.
- Attend a brief (typically 15 – 30 minutes) pre-observation meeting, during which you will a) discuss your general approach to teaching and any specific elements of your lesson (e.g., teaching methods, style, student engagement) about which you would like feedback and b) learn about the observer’s approach to conducting an observation.
- Within a week of the observed class, participate in a post-observation meeting, during which you and the observer will discuss your respective perceptions of the class, and the observer will provide feedback and suggestions (often including detailed descriptive notes) typically in direct response to the areas of focus discussed in the pre-observation meeting.
We strongly believe that peer observation of teaching can play a valuable role for all faculty who engage in a reflective process of professional improvement. We hope to visit many of your classrooms and encourage you to observe the teaching of Lucas Center personnel at your convenience.
For additional information, comments or concerns, contact Dr. Bill Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org