Specimen checklist for peer observation / self review
Many academic units will have their own schemes for peer observation, and these will generally provide their own observation checklists. Even where such schemes are not in operation, it can be enormously beneficial to invite your mentor or another colleague to sit in on one of your classes and give you some feedback. Alternatively, you could use this list as a way of focusing your own reflection.
- How did the session start?
- Off the top of your head, how would you characterise the emotional climate of this group? (Try a hot … cold spectrum if stuck.)
- How would you characterise its intellectual tone?
- What did you find most surprising about this session?
- How many people spoke during the session you observed?
- What do you notice about the typical patterns of interaction in this group? For example, is it dominated by a few individuals? Is there a sub-group of students who appear to be at sea or have withdrawn from the action?
- Do you notice anything particular about the non-verbal interactions?
- Who initiates changes of direction? Are these always initiated by the lecturer / tutor?
- What did you notice about the pace of the seminar? What were the most energetic moments? And what its most listless?
- If the lecturer / tutor talks a lot, why do you think this is?
- How does a topic emerge? Who is responsible for its emergence? Does the tutor plan ahead with the group?
- How does the class scaffold or prepare the way for individual study?
- How did the tutor handle difficulties, for example, interruption (e.g. by latecomers)? Irrelevant observations? Students without copies of the text, or who hadn’t done the preparation? Reluctance to carry out a specified task? Silent students? Over-bearing or dominant students?
- How effective were my pre or post seminar activities on the VLE in terms of participation, interaction etc?
Suggestions for reading
The Subject Centre has given references to a selection of books and articles that we think useful for HE English teachers in our Teaching Library
The following are particularly relevant to these pages:
Ellie Chambers and Marshall Gregory, Teaching and Learning English Literature (London: Sage, 2006)
Sue and Trevor Habeshaw 53 Things To Do in Your Seminars (Bristol: Technical and Educational Services)