Peer observation of teaching is about observing learning as it happens.

Peer observation of teaching is a collaborative model of professional learning in which a teacher observes a colleague teach and reflects on what they have seen. They then engage in collegial conversations to provide the observed teacher with constructive feedback on their practice, and discuss ways in which teaching and learning can be enhanced.

The peer observation of teaching is an integral part of teachers' professional development. It helps to connect colleagues with one another and enhances the culture of teaching and learning at the University. The University of Queensland is seeking to increase these activities through institutional-level support and recognition.

Peer observation has been demonstrated to be an effective tool for the enhancement of teaching, leading to improvements in student outcomes and experience (Bell, 2001; Carbone, 2011; Nash & Barnard, 2013).

Benefits of peer observations

Peer feedback is essential to the development of teaching practice. Rich feedback and constructive criticism from peer observation raises teacher awareness of their performance. Recognising your skills and deficiencies is fundamental to improving your practice.

Peer observation supports the observed teacher to:

  • enhance their students' learning through reflective practice
  • engage in professional learning to improve teaching
  • gain feedback on significant teaching or course changes
  • gather evidence of teaching quality to support career progression
  • help to create a community around teaching and learning.

Peer observation should not be thought of as just about improving the practice of the observed teacher. Observers also benefit.

Colleagues who support the process as a peer observer:

  • demonstrate leadership in teaching and learning 
  • take dedicated time to watch and reflect on teaching
  • see teaching practices that can be emulated
  • learn about teaching technologies and their implementation
  • gain a student's perspective of learning in the faculty/school
  • connect to colleagues within and beyond their discipline.

Cross-discipline observations have been shown to enhance self-reflection for observers. When observing a peer in a different field, the observer is less inclined to attend to the content being taught and more likely to concentrate on the teaching and learning occurring, which allows them greater insight into their own reflections (Miranda et al., 2021).

Participating in the process of peer observation may also be used as evidence to satisfy elements of the Teaching Domain in the Annual Performance and Development (APD). Depending on academic level, the experience of observing or being observed and the activity which follows an observation, may be used as evidence of satisfying performance goals set for the Teaching Profile, Engagement and Leadership criteria. 

Open Course Scheme

The Open Course Scheme (OCS) provides an opportunity for staff to visit classrooms to observe high standards of teaching at UQ. Observing colleagues allows staff to witness new ideas, see pedagogies being implemented, rediscover orthodox approaches, or validate current practices.

Learn more about UQ's Open Course Scheme

Observe or be observed

Participating in peer observation is beneficial to experienced and novice teachers alike.