by Jen Gregory and Cynthia Rutz
Teaching can be an isolating activity. It is hard to know whether things you are trying in the classroom are working well or not. Would you like some friendly feedback on your teaching?
We at VITAL are available to observe faculty who would like to improve their teaching. This offer also applies to those faculty who are directed by their academic units to seek teaching-related assistance.
Please note that we do classroom observations for non-tenured faculty as well, including lecturers and adjuncts. IN fact, regular classroom visits have been recommended for these faculty by the Non-Tenure Track Task Force.
VITAL provides both consultations and classroom observations.
The process begins with a meeting with you to discuss the course itself, your learning objectives for the course and specifically, the class session to be observed.
Topics will include:
- What is the context of this particular lesson in the larger class or unit?
- What are your teaching goals (student learning objectives) for the class overall? For this particular unit? For this lesson?
- What specific teaching strategies would you like feedback on? (Examples: lecture, small group discussion, addressing student questions, debate, student presentations)
- What is your current teaching style? Are there occasions when you could or should alter it? How?
- What are some concerns you have about this class or about these students (perhaps based on previous student evaluations)?
On the day of the classroom observation, one of us will attend your class and observe you teaching in the classroom, taking detailed notes. If needed, we may ask to visit the class on multiple occasions in order to get a complete picture of what happens.
After the observations are completed, we meet with you once again to discuss what we observed. We will talk about what transpired in class and about any patterns we noticed. We can then discuss steps going forward. What observed behaviors might you want to improve? What other teaching techniques might you employ to better achieve your goals for this lesson? We might also talk about your long-term teaching goals and how to best achieve them.
Observations can be either confidential or they can be shared with your Department Chair or Dean for purposes of promotion and tenure
For further reading:
“Observing Teaching: Discovering and Developing the Individual’s Teaching Style,” Michael C. Flanigan (Indiana University Teaching and Learning Vol. IV, No. 1, November, 1978).
“Valparaiso University Faculty Handbook,” August, 2015. Section 220.127.116.11.2 – Peer Evaluation of Teaching.
“Synopsis of Non-Tenure Track Faculty Task Force Report,” September 8, 2014.