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A OVERVIEW OF Peer Observation

Creating a powerful learning environment is a challenging proposition for a lecturer. In addition to knowing and delivering the materials, the lecturer must be proficient in both class management, and social techniques. Willerman (1991) suggests that there is a need for a method that will accomplish improvements in these techniques in a fashion that does not threaten self-esteem. The peer observation of teaching methods is known as a way in which the effectiveness of teaching and the learning environment provided by academics staff in advanced schooling establishments is quantified and increased (Hammersley-Fletcher and Orsmond 2004). Peer observation of coaching is receiving popular interest, and has been utilized in numerous establishments across an array of faculties (Cosh 1998).

Gosling (2002) recognized three central types of peer observation of coaching: 1) The Evaluation model which involves senior personnel observing lecturers and providing feedback, 2) The Developmental model which include educational designers, expert professors, or learning and educating co-ordinators in the observation process and 3) Peer review model where lecturers monitor other lecturers and offer reviews. They mainly change in the positioning and prominence of the observer and the function of the observation (Light et al 2009).

The principal element of the peer review process is observation of coaching practices (Light et al 2009). However Light et al (2009) declare that peer observation is highly recommended a supplement rather than a replacement for college student supplied evaluation. Students are considered the most reliable sources of feedback on teaching routines and delivery because they are the proposed recipients in the learning and coaching process. Nonetheless, with comprehensive preparation, colleagues can provide an all important substitute standpoint regarding effective teaching practices to that provided by students (Chism 1999).

Peer observation also signifies a means of learning and posting good practices with other lecturers (Fry et al 2003). There are many persuasive reasons cited within the books that support the utilization of peer observation: To increase the quality of teaching and learning through wide open discussion and organized critique, to help cultivate a collegial atmosphere through dialogue about common issues of matter and to provide a more comprehensive analysis of coaching by evaluating aspects not covered by student evaluations, such as currency of content, balance and breadth of the curriculum (Fry et al 2003). Peer observations can be handy in determining if the observed session relates to the overall module goals and learning final results and how, if, it links back to you to past and future periods to be able to ensure that the students are attaining the learning results and that learning is occurring. The process is also helpful in discovering the appropriateness of assessments within a component, such as presentations, tests and assignments also to assess the methods and materials used by the detected lecturer.

Both the observer and the observed can benefit from peer observation. It includes the observer the opportunity to gain information into different coaching methods and their efficacy whilst also providing the chance to regulate how students reply and build relationships different teaching methods. For the observed lecturer the observation offers the chance to get reviews from those in the same field to be able to improve self confidence and develop coaching skills (Fry et al 2003).

However, there are issues which may have been brought up within the literature regarding the utilization of peer observation as a way of improving teaching in advanced schooling (Light et al 2009). The peer observation process can be exceedingly intimidating for both observer and detected potentially resulting in a non-representative procedure being delivered or poor feedback given, particularly if a significant ability or status difference exists between the two. Furthermore, observers using their own plan and/or an alternative interpretation of the most effective approach to teaching may undermine the detected individuals self-assurance/development, particularly if he/she is inexperienced (Light et al 2009). Significantly, Shortland (2004) shows that if the observer is not chosen carefully common support for inadequate teaching practices can occur, potentially leading to a de-emphasis on the students point of view of the learning environment.

Nonetheless the peer observation process is normally well received as it promotes a support system between educational staff; helps advance the quality of teaching through open discussion and a far more complete evaluation of coaching by analyzing aspects not traditionally covered by learner assessments (Fry et al 2003 and AAHE (1998).

Reflection on peer observations

For the first observation I got on the role as observer to observe a fellow workers lecture. The period being witnessed was implemented in typical lecture format to several around 20 3rd time Physiology top-up students. The time itself is entitled research skills and was created to bring in/prepare the students for the entire year ahead in conditions of the abilities that they can need to develop to be able to pass their 3rd year at university.

For the second observation I required on the role as observer to see a colleagues lecture.

I found the procedure of observing another member of staff to be a satisfying experience which provided me perception into coaching methods other than my own. This sort of lecture i. e. Introductory/skills program is something that I've always found difficult to provide as such I came across it good for observe a program of this characteristics. In watching the session Personally i think that I have learned lots of key things which I hope to combine into my own teaching.

For example as can often happen the lecturer was compelled to deal with a very good university student who monopolized all of the lecturers tries to encourage scholar interaction/engagement. This is something which i find extremely difficult to deal with within my own periods as I usually make an effort to encourage proposal/questions and as such to simply ask the student to be tranquil would naturally not be effective. Nevertheless the lecturer that we observed I feel dealt with the situation very well by simply asking the learner to summarize what key areas of the program. This prevented the scholar from and allowed others an opportunity to talk if indeed they felt that that they had something to add.

However despite the observation of another employee being truly a relatively positive experience, I came across it difficult to look at the coaching methods as the employee that I detected was significantly more experienced than myself, considering that I am a comparatively new lecturer I found this process uncomfortable. Furthermore, the average person that I observed was someone that I understand well; therefore making the process even more complicated Personally i think perhaps with hindsight that watching someone with whom I am familiar was not the best option for me and so I should avoid in the future, even if this calls for observing a member of staff from another office.

For the second part of the process I had been observed. Prior to being detected I attained with the observer and discussed the module all together including its analysis criteria and I designed to do in the time. The session was a computer period where in fact the students sustained in understanding how to use a motion analysis package designed to quantify 3D kinematics from gait evaluation. In addition to this the time was the last week before their first analysis (where they are separated into groups and have to provide gait research to at the very top footballer, they are assessed in their competency) and therefore the last chance to ask questions regarding this analysis.

I believe that the session as a whole went well, after the first short while I was largely unaware that the observer was there in any way. I feel that the session all together travelled well and I fulfilled the learning benefits outlined in the lessons plan. The group of students was quite small (7-10 students) thus the likelihood of disruption is minimal so there was little concern regarding this prior to the procedure commencing. Feedback from the observer recommended that the procedure had opted well, this offered to enhance my confidence in my teaching when i was slightly apprehensive before the commencement as this was my first observation and I was concerned about what others considered my teaching. Because of this session Personally i think that I will be more confident and assertive in future periods.


I believe that the process of peer observation was beneficial for me particularly in helping me offer with disruptive students problems i sometimes battle to package with. The observation process allowed me to see how another (more capable) member of staff dealt with the situation and I am likely to combine this into my very own teaching if possible.

In addition to the I also feel that I benefitted from being exposed to additional methods of assessment, outside the typical essay/exam based methods. The lecturer that I observed experienced the students write a critique of another newspaper in their field. That is a method that I've not yet used before in my teaching, but I came across that it seemed to compliment the training effects of the module (that I observed) very well and discussion with the lecturer by the end of the procedure verified that the students engage well with this record. As such I am going to try to integrate this technique into my own coaching as critical thinking is something that students in my area of teaching typically lack and could potentially profit enormously from.

To conclude, from my very own experience the procedure for peer observation is a very important method of growing reflective practice that both observer and seen can benefit from. However I also believe that the observer and observed shouldn't know one another well and should be at a similar level in conditions of authority and prestige to become as genuine and objective as it can be and maximize the benefits that both attributes can obtain from peer observation.

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