Koehler Center OutcomesWhat is a Classroom Observation?

A Koehler Center classroom observation is a reflective process that can help you see your teaching from a new perspective, and give you ideas about how to enhance learning for your students. The observation is intended to be formative and generative rather than summative and evaluative, as studies show that the formative aspect is an essential component of an effective observation (Chism, 2007).

While departmental observations may focus on specific disciplinary knowledge and practices, the Koehler Center observation process focuses more broadly on pedagogical practices in terms of their impact on student learning. Additionally, while the process does consist of a single classroom visit, the real value of the observation process is in the ongoing reflective work that occurs after the classroom visit.

What are the benefits of a Classroom Observation?

  • Offers an opportunity to examine and reflect on your teaching practice
  • Provides a safe environment to discuss your teaching practice in objective and concrete ways
  • Allows for in-depth formative feedback
  • Provides new insight to student behavior and performance
  • Leads to pedagogical adjustments that can improve SPOT evaluations
  • Is intentionally structured and thoughtfully facilitated to be an overall positive experience

How does the Classroom Observation process work?

An observation consists of multiple parts:

Observation Cycle at a Glance
  1. Request Observation:
    • The process begins with the instructor submitting an Observation request informed by prior self-reflection. A Koehler Center faculty developer will work to confirm scheduling, and request a course syllabus.
  2. Pre-observation Consultation:
    • The instructor and Koehler Center faculty developers will meet to discuss the instructor’s teaching goals, the observation process, and the observation rubric.
  3. Observation Visit:
    • Koehler Center faculty developers will visit the class of your choosing, observe you teaching, and record observational data on the rubric. After the class, the instructor will also record notes on the observation rubric.
  4. Post-observation Consultation:
    • The instructor and Koehler Center faculty developers will meet to revisit goals and discuss the observation. Instructors will be provided with a written report that includes the observational notes, and any additional relevant resources. Together we will use the observational data to generate new ideas and strategies, and to help make some informed instructional decisions.
  5. Implement Changes:
    • The Instructor will use the observation data, resources, and notes from the Post-observation consultation to implement new ideas and strategies, and note changes or improvements in student learning. Faculty developers will provide ongoing feedback and support as needed.
  6. Ongoing Self-reflection:
    • Towards the end of the semester, instructors will receive a follow-up survey providing an opportunity to be reflective about their teaching practice. Instructors will be asked to revisit goals, reflect on changes to teaching, and note improvements in student learning.

Faculty often find the observation process and survey responses useful for writing self-reflections of teaching. Faculty may choose to share their reflections with departmental leadership, or they may choose to include them in a teaching portfolio for broader peer or departmental evaluations. We encourage you to check with your department regarding these expectations.

Some faculty also wish to request a formal letter from the Koehler Center that documents the observation and highlights some of the general topics discussed during the consultation. If you would like a formal letter, upon completion of the survey we will ask you to send us your self-reflective statement. This statement should describe changes to your teaching as a result of the reflective observation process, and the impact on student learning. This statement will help inform our writing of the letter.

Who can request one?

Anyone teaching at TCU can request an observation. This is a development opportunity the Koehler Center provides to the TCU teaching community. Observations are conducted by Koehler Center faculty developers.

Please note that conversations with Koehler Center staff are confidential. The Koehler Center will not share information generated during the observation process with anyone but the requesting faculty member.

How do I request one?

Requests for Observations must be submitted by the following dates.

Spring 2020:

  • Request form opens Thursday, November 7, 2019
  • Request form closes Friday, February 7, 2020 (or when capacity is full)

Fall 2020:

  • Request form opens Monday, August 3, 2020
  • Request form closes Friday, September 25, 2020 (or when capacity is full)

Summer Observations:
Because there are various course lengths and starting times for summer courses, please email cte@tcu.edu for information about requesting an Observation during the summer months. Please include 3 possible Observation dates and times in your request email. Your request should be emailed at least 1 month prior to the date(s) you are proposing for the Observation.

To request an observation, simply fill out the form below.

References

Chism, N.V.N. Peer Review of Teaching: A Sourcebook. Bolton, Mass.: Anker, 1999.

Lewis, K. “Collecting Information Using Class Observation.” In K. T. Brinko and R. J. Menges (eds.), Practically Speaking: A Sourcebook for Instructional Consultants in Higher Education. Stillwater, Okla.: New Forums Press, 1997.

Millis, B. J. “Conducting Effective Peer Classroom Observations.” To Improve the Academy, 1992, 11, 189–206.

Weimer, M. Improving College Teaching: Strategies for Developing Instructional Effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.

Wilkerson, L. “Classroom Observation: The Observer as Collaborator.” In E. C. Wadsworth (ed.), A Handbook for New Practitioners. Stillwater, Okla.: New Forums Press/Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, 1988.