Peer Observations

Post-secondary classrooms have traditionally been highly private places, but a growing number of VIU faculty members are  using peer observations to open theirs up and create opportunities for feedback and discussion.

Peer observation of teaching is a process by which faculty and instructors can benefit from the insights and experiences of their colleagues.

Through the process, both the observer and the observee have the opportunity to reflect, share thoughts, and contribute to the enhancement of one another’s classrooms.

This rich discussion also creates a space for an ongoing dialogue about our teaching practice and how we can best facilitate student learning.

Peer observation has significant benefits for both those observing, and those being observed. For those being observed, the benefits include:

  • Gaining feedback on new or enhanced courses or activities
  • Building a sense of community around teaching
  • Enhancing the culture of teaching and learning
  • Providing a mechanism for continuous professional development
  • Improving student learning through structured reflection

For those doing the observation, benefits include:

  • Inspiring new approaches to teaching
  • Demonstrating support for colleagues
  • Connecting with colleagues beyond your discipline
  • Providing a structured approach to discussions of teaching and student learning

There are four main stages to a peer observation:

  1. A Pre-observation meeting, during which it is agreed what the focus of the observation will be
  2. The observation of teaching
  3. Critical reflection, where both the observer, and the observe take some time to think about how the class went, and what to focus on in the post observation meeting
  4. A post-observation meeting, during which the teaching session is discussed, and constructive feedback is shared

Here's what some of our colleagues had to say about being involved in the peer review process:

“A benefit I did not expect was that we’d end up in rich discussions about teaching…”

“I was surprised by how much I learnt…Overall, I feel that peer observation has given me more confidence, and I now know that I am on the right course in terms of how I teach.”

“By having someone come into my classroom, it forced me to clearly think about what I was going to do…”

More information about the process of peer observation is available to download in the box to the right of this page.

Capturing your learning  from peer observation

Reflection is key to the professional learning available through the peer observation process. Capturing those reflections is a valuable way to be able to revisit your goals and observations. There are many ways to capture your reflections, including written documents, audio recordings, and video capture, either on your own, or in conversation with the colleague who observed you.

To get started, you might consider your responses to questions like:

  • What was it like to have a colleague watch you teach? 
  • What stood out to you most about about the feedback I received from my colleague?
  • What did you learn about yourself as a teacher through the process of being observed?
  • How would you prepare for the peer observation process differently in the future? Why?

For more information, please see the box titled 'Resources for reflection' at the bottom of this page

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