Observation for Formative (Developmental) Purposes
Formative peer observation is highly recommended for non-tenured faculty
and for all faculty prior to a summative observation of teaching. This
process may be initiated by a faculty member or the department to assist
the individual teacher in improving their teaching effectiveness.
General guidelines for classroom observations
apply to both formative and summative observation processes. These guidelines
are: 1) Peer Reviewers should develop observational skills prior to observing
a class, 2) A single classroom observation by one rater is not a reliable
indicator of teaching quality, 3) Preobservation information is essential
to provide contextual information, 4) During the observation, a variety
of approaches can be used to focus the observation from checklist to open
ended questions, 5) Observers should try to be as unobtrusive as possible,
6) Observing over a substantial amount of time is needed to allow the
teacher and the students to relax, and 7) The observer should complete
post observation notes, forms, or other reports while the information
Formative peer observation may be focused on one or more areas of teaching
that the instructor wants to improve or develop. Some examples of areas
of improvement are questioning techniques, student time on task, amount
of active participation, use of inquiry guided learning techniques, etc.
The methods used to record observations are extensive. There are many
examples of forms and checklists that are widely available in books and
articles on faculty development. (see references and resources)
The following are types of reflective questions that are often used in
1. Did the lesson proceed in the way you had planned? Why?
2.Did the students react to the lesson in the way you thought they would?
3. During the lesson, did you feel condifent and enthusiastic? Why?
4. Do you think the students learned all that you wanted them to learn
in this session? What brings you to that conclusion?
5. What did you do to encourage the students to actively participate
in the lesson?
6. What did you learn about teaching from this class?
7. What did you learn about student learning from this class?
8. What targets for improvement have you set yourself for this calsss,
and are they realistic?
9. If you taught this class again tomorrow, what would you do differently?
Adapted from: Killen, R. (1995) "Improving Teaching Through Reflective
Partnerships." To Improve the Academy