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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Guidelines on peer observation of teaching

Peer Observation of Teaching
The purposes of POT are:
  1. To contribute to the provision of a high quality educational experience for students
  2. To enhance the importance attached to good teaching
  3. To encourage all staff to reflect on the effectiveness of their own teaching and identify their development needs
  4. To foster discussion and dissemination of best practice
  5. To increase staff awareness of the whole student experience
  6. To identify any weaknesses so that they can be remedied.
    POT should be part of a system of scholarly peer review of teaching that is normal for the support and development of high quality teaching, just as it is with research.


  1. Peer observation is for all teaching staff and is separate from other systems such as appraisal and probation.
  2. Any implication of inspection or monitoring should be avoided. It would undermine the trust between peers that is essential between an observer and a teacher if they are to make, accept, and reflect on observations made about the teaching.
  3. The emphasis should be on the student experience and how learning can be enhanced.
  4. Information about the observed teaching should be kept under the control of the teacher observed. It is for him/her to decide if any record is kept or any further use is made of it.
  5. The observer should treat the observation as confidential.
  6. A group of teachers or a department should decide to pool the information from observations only if there is unanimous agreement.


Procedures and paperwork should be minimal, to avoid unwanted form-filling and filing. Nonetheless, the scheme adopted should give enough guidance to the participants about:

  1. How observations are arranged (e.g. at random, mutual pairs, triads), and when they happen
  2. A pre-observation discussion (to explain the context and aims to the observer and agree what part, if any, the observer will play in the session)
  3. What observers should concentrate on when observing e.g. a checklist, a form for observations through time. (Many published checklists and forms for observations list the characteristics of lectures or seminars; they are available from Staff Development & Training. These may need to be adapted to the type of teaching and the subject. Where used, checklists and quantitative scales should not dominate the process, they should serve as a reminder of basic features of effective teaching in the context.)
  4. A post-observation discussion
  5. What written feedback is given (e.g. a simple report on what went well and what could have been different in the session) and what happens to it (e.g. the single copy should kept by the observed teacher for their own purposes).
  6. What public record is kept of the observation for QA purposes (e.g. a departmental record of when it occurred and by whom).


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