Peer Observation of Teaching
Peer Observation of Teaching (POT)
At the Lucas Center we view peer observation of teaching (POT) as an effective mechanism for assisting faculty to achieve their professional goals related to the art and science of teaching. Research strongly suggests that POT (being observed and observing others) can provide an opportunity for collegial conversations about teaching, while also enabling reflective practice and providing opportunities for the provision of developmental advice (Drew et al., 2016; Hammersley-Fletcher & Orsmond, 2005; Hendry & Oliver, 2012; Pressick-Kilborn & te Riele, 2008).
In order to most closely align POT with the mission, vision, and goals of the Lucas Center, we employ a coaching model that conceptualizes POT as a formative, collaborative, and developmental series of activities conducted between a Lucas Center representative and a faculty member who wishes to engage in a dialogue about her/his teaching (in contrast to a summative, more formally evaluative approach used by some institutions). In this spirit of mutuality, all observers commit to opening their classrooms to observation by those they observe.
Despite our intention to enact a process that is useful and fulfilling for both the faculty member being observed and the observer, we acknowledge that vulnerability and concerns about judgment are inherent in the process. Therefore, we ensure that confidentiality is built into the POT procedure, and written reports are provided directly and only to the observed faculty members when requested. Peer observers are encouraged to share their experiences of and feelings about being observed in their own classes in order to foster trust and mutuality in the observation process.
The Lucas Center will not provide letters or reports attesting to the quality or effectiveness of one’s teaching based on a single observation. However, when faculty members provide a clear set of learning objectives for a given lesson during the pre-observation meeting, observers can comment on the extent to which those objectives have been achieved.
Faculty wishing to schedule an observation should follow these steps.
- At least three weeks before the class session you would like observed, contact the Lucas Center to ensure an observer is available and to arrange a pre-observation consultation.
- Email your observer the course syllabus and any materials you believe would help her/him better understand your goals for the class and how you intend to accomplish them.
- Attend a brief (typically 15 – 30 minutes) pre-observation meeting, during which you will a) discuss your general approach to teaching and any specific elements of your lesson (e.g., teaching methods, style, student engagement) about which you would like feedback and b) learn about the observer’s approach to conducting an observation.
- Within a week of the observed class, participate in a post-observation meeting, during which you and the observer will discuss your respective perceptions of the class, and the observer will provide feedback and suggestions (often including detailed descriptive notes) typically in direct response to the areas of focus discussed in the pre-observation meeting.
We strongly believe that peer observation of teaching can play a valuable role for all faculty who engage in a reflective process of professional improvement. We hope to visit many of your classrooms and encourage you to observe the teaching of Lucas Center personnel at your convenience.
Trained Peer Observers
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Menaka Navaratna is an associate professor of Mathematics at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he has served as the department chair of mathematics division. His terminal degree is in the area of applied mathematics where real-life applications are modeled using differential equations. Since joining FGCU, he has served on many committees and teams. He was a member of CAS Peer Review and Support Committee (PRSC), University Curriculum Team (UCT), FGCU Senate and the chair of the CAS Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (CAS UCC). He has completed several Lucas Center Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) which are devoted to enhancing teaching, learning, and the university experience.
Tanya Huffman is a Level III Mathematics Instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University where she has been teaching undergraduate mathematics and statistics courses since 2007. She is the coordinator of business calculus sections and the recipient of the 2015 FGCU Senior Faculty Teaching Award. Tanya is a member of The FGCU Whitaker Center for STEM Education Leadership Team and a co-PI on NSF Widening Implementation & Demonstration of Evidence-Based Reforms (WIDER) Grant for STEM Professional Academy to Reinvigorate the Culture of Teaching (SPARCT) at FGCU. Her research interests are in mathematics education with specialty area in project-based learning. She regularly presents her innovative teaching techniques at the faculty professional development workshops and conferences. Since 2014, she has been directing enrichment summer programs for middle school students.
A native of France, Tatiana Schuss teaches French courses of all levels and actively works on the development of the French program in the Department of Language and Literature in CAS. She serves as faculty adviser to the French Club whose objective is to promote French language and culture on campus. She studied at the Université de Bourgogne, in Dijon France where she obtained her Master 1 in the Teaching of French as a Foreign Language. She also holds a Master of Arts in the Teaching of Languages, with dual emphases in French and TESOL, from the University of Southern Mississippi. In addition, she has worked as an interpreter for a private company and the US Department of State.
Her formation in pedagogy has led her to focus on various areas surrounding foreign and second language teaching, such as second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, communicative-language teaching, and language learning strategies. She has presented on teaching pedagogy in various conferences. She is strong believer of collaboration with peers in teaching and pedagogy development.