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Teaching Observations

Observations During COVID-19

While CETL normally attends an in-person class session, during the COVID-19 pandemic we are offering observations of online classes, both synchronous and asynchronous.

Faculty can request specific points of focus for the observation or just a general observation of their teaching. Specifics will be discussed during the first point of contact between the faculty member and the CETL observer.

Faculty requesting observations will need to add the CETL observer to their course Canvas sites as a designer and provide any additional access necessary to conduct the observation (e.g., Zoom link for synchronous meeting). The course elements that we will observe will be the same noted in the traditional observation description above but adjusted for the online environment.

Teaching observations are available for faculty to receive feedback on

  • classroom management,
  • communication effectiveness,
  • students' engagement, or
  • other teaching and learning practices specified by the faculty member.

We offer two options for teaching observations. You may choose to participate in one or both options. Options are described as follows:

  • Traditional: a CETL staff member will observe one of your class sessions and the result will yield a qualitative discussion of your teaching and general classroom culture. You can request specific points of focus for the observation or just a general observation of your teaching. This option can also be used for departmental review requirements. Specifics will be discussed during the first point of contact between you and the CETL observer. Examples of elements that may be noted during the observation include, but are not limited to, communication of course content, clarity of lecture points and pace, layout of audiovisual materials, student engagement, student interactions with the instructor, clarity of directions, activities, and overall course environment/community.

  • COPUS - Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM: a CETL staff member will follow the observation protocol to observe and record specific teaching practices and student interactions. This method yields both quantitative and qualitative data used toward characterizing instructional practices and how students are spending their time in class. For more information about this process, please visit www.copusprofiles.org

After the Observation

After the observation, the CETL observer will meet with the faculty member to debrief. During the debrief, the observer will discuss elements that are working well and provide some recommendations for improvement. After the debrief, the CETL observer will send a written report to the faculty member detailing what was discussed.
 

Confidentiality

Observations and recommendations are confidential and will not be shared with outside entities (e.g., Department Heads, Tenure and Promotion Committees). However, the individual faculty member is free to share the written report of the results.

 

Scheduling Your Observation

Schedule a teaching observation via our online form.

 


Training for Peer Review of Teaching


If a department would like to request training on how to conduct teaching observations, please email the center at
teaching@vt.edu.