Faculty Development

Faculty Development

Peer Teaching Observation Process Example

 

Scenario: Samuel wanted his students to be more actively engaged in the classroom. He taught a class of 90. He wanted to learn some ideas for how to add interaction without losing content. He emailed the Office of Faculty Development, who introduced him to Janine. Janine had been the instructor in a large classroom setting many times, and she was excited to help Samuel.

Pre-Observation Meeting:

Janine explained to Samuel how the observation process works. They discussed what Samuel hoped to get out of the observation. They developed a list that targets observation questions and goals:

Observation Targets:

  • How engaged are the students?
  • Does Samuel talk too long?
  • Does Samuel ask enough questions?
  • How can Samuel get the students to provide more answers?
  • Other ideas for increasing student engagement.

Observation

Based on the pre-observation meeting, Janine created the following plan for the observation:

  • Use watch and notes to create a timeline that shows precisely how much time Samuel spends talking, asking questions, waiting for answers, and listening to answers.
  • Write down all the questions asked, and note what kind of question they are: yes/no, factual, application, or synthesis.
  • Watch body language: what visual cues / reinforcers does Samuel give when asking questions or listening to student answers?
  • Watch for peek, dropping, and low engagement. What happens when students are most engaged? What's going on when energy drops?
  • Unknown Unknowns: keep an eye out for anything else.

While observing the class, Janine noted that Samuel asked frequent questions, but they were all factual or yes/no questions. Samuel only waited about 15 seconds for a student to answer a question, and then moved on with the lesson if no one answered. Samuel also did not warn students that a question was coming. When several students raised their hands, Samuel called on the first to do so every time. The same student answered more than one question.

Janine also noticed that Samuel ceased to project his voice during slide transitions, as if he was distracted from talking. This made the transitions difficult for Janine to follow, so it was likely that it was also difficult for the students to follow.

Post-Observation Meeting

Janine created a summary of the observations she collected, noting particular things that apply to the list of observation targets.

Observation Feedback:

  • All the questions you asked in your class were knowledge questions, not application or synthesis questions
  • You asked about one question every five minutes, which is an excellent pace for questions.
  • You didn't warn students that a question was coming up, and you only gave about 15 seconds for students to think about the question.
  • Unknown Unknown: Your projection dropped off while you were transitioning slides, making it hard for me to catch the crucial information you gave at those times.

Janine reviewed the Observation Targets with Samuel. Then they had a discussion of how Samuel thought his class went. Samuel identified some areas that Janine had also noted, but was not sure how to improve on them. Janine gave Samuel the list of feedback that she had prepared, and they discussed Samuel's take on each item. Janine then gave Samuel several FeedForward suggestions for things he could do differently.

Based on this discussion, Samuel and Janine created the following Action Plan:

Action Plan

Most important - try these right away

  • Create synthesis question for one class to see how it works
  • Practice new transition habit: Don't talk during transitions
  • Use a timer and make sure to wait at least 30 seconds to 1 minute before calling on someone.

Less important - try these when you have time

  • Attend workshops that focus on active lecture skills when available
  • Give students a warning about upcoming questions at the start of the slide.
  • Attend and observe a colleague's class that uses clickers
  • Create a pair-share synthesis question that will take 5 minutes of class time.

 

 

 

 

Office of Faculty Development
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5268 USA
(269) 387-0732
faculty-development@wmich.edu