Koehler Center OutcomesWhat is a Classroom Observation?

A classroom observation conducted by the Koehler Center can help you see your class from a new perspective and give you ideas about how to enhance learning for your students. A Koehler Center classroom observation focuses specifically on pedagogical practices in terms of their impact on learning, and seeks to find evidence of a wide variety of best-practices. During an observation, Koehler Center faculty developers will visit your class and collect observational data about aspects of the teaching and learning occurring in the room. Common aspects include use of techniques and methods for facilitating learning, use of time and space, and student interaction.

The supportive consultation following the observation is intended to provide you with formative feedback to help you refine instructional techniques in order to improve student learning. The consultation is also an opportunity for you to reflect on your teaching, analyze strengths as well as areas for improvement, better understand your students and their learning, and generate new ideas for choices you might make in the future to more effectively meet your teaching and learning goals. Overall, 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).

How does a Classroom Observation work?

An observation consists of four parts:

  • Instructor pre-meeting
  • In-class observation
  • Instructor post-meeting
  • Instructor self-reflection

The process starts with an instructor pre-meeting to discuss your course and your overall goals for the observation. Then, Koehler Center faculty developers will visit the class of your choosing and record observational data.

We will schedule an instructor post-meeting a few days after the observation, in which we will discuss what was observed, and help you use the information to make some informed instructional decisions. You will be provided with a written report that includes the observational notes, and any additional relevant resources.

At the end of the semester, once the course is finished, we will follow up with you and ask you to reflect on the overall impact of the observation process.

Some faculty 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, we will ask you to send us a self-reflective statement describing how you implemented changes to your teaching as a result of the observation, and the overall impact of the observation process. This statement will help inform our writing of the letter.

Do note that conversations with Koehler Center staff are confidential. At no time are you required to share information generated during the observation process unless you choose to do so. Faculty often find the classroom observation process useful for writing self-reflections of teaching to include in a teaching portfolio for broader peer or departmental evaluations. However, this is voluntary and optional.

What are the benefits of a Classroom Observation?

  • Offers an opportunity to examine your teaching from a new perspective
  • 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

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.

How do I request one?

Requests for Observations must be submitted by the following dates.

Fall 2018:

  • Request form opened Wednesday, August 8, 2018
  • Request form will close Friday, September 28, 2018 (or when capacity is full)

Spring 2019:

  • Request form will open Wednesday, December 5, 2018
  • Request form will close Friday, February 8, 2019 (or when capacity is full)

Observations are scheduled during the third through eighth week of the fall and spring terms.

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.