Peer observation of teaching

Showcasing good practice, sharing ideas

The University promotes a collegiate culture in many ways. One key way for our practice as teachers is through peer observation of teaching, which involves pairing up with another university teacher to observe them teaching and, in turn, be observed by them.

Aims

  • To promote reflection on teaching and learning by both the person being observed and the observer
  • To share good practice and allow for ongoing professional development as practitioners
  • To enhance the students’ learning experience through the discovery of new ideas for teaching and learning

Principles

Peer observation:

  • is about sharing good practice rather than evaluating the performance of academics
  • assumes that the discussions between the academic and the observer remain confidential
  • should be flexible in focus and not adopt an audit approach
  • aids personal and professional development
  • should enhance the delivery of teaching and/or the content of learning

Things to consider

Should you pair up with a colleague from your subject area or from another area?

  • If the focus of the observation is on content then the observer should be a subject specialist.
  • However if pedagogy is the focus then a specialist from another discipline can be helpful.

a) Before the observation

  • The academic arranges for the observer to have access to the module’s Blackboard site and provides them with the module specification and/or programme handbook and any other relevant learning materials.
  • The academic and observer meet to agree the focus of the observation and to discuss the learning outcomes and content of the session being observed.

b) During the observation

  • The academic introduces the observer to students, making clear the observer is not evaluating students in any way.
  • The observer makes notes during the session. These may be structured around the agreed focus of the session or more generally around themes suggested in the peer observation checklist (click here for the checklist).
  • The academic notes down any of their own thoughts about the session as soon as it ends.

c) After the observation

  • The academic and observer meet to discuss the observation and reflect on any issues raised.
  • The academic notes any developmental or training issues to be addressed through their Professional Development Review (PDR) with their line manager.
  • The academic completes the anonymous peer observation form, including examples of good practice identified and developmental issues relevant to the school / department, faculty / institute or University.
  • The academic passes the peer observation form to the Chair of the Faculty or Institute Learning and Teaching Committee (LTC), who collates examples of good practice and makes a note of faculty / institute development issues.
  • The academic reports the date and time of the observation to the relevant line manager who then reports completion rates to the Chair of the LTC for audit purposes.

The University has a template for Peer Observation of Teaching, the first part of which is optional, and the second part of which is required to maximise the potential for sharing good practice and responding to professional development needs.

›› Guidelines for Peer Observation (intranet/extranet link for RUL staff) 

Last updated: 24 September 2015