Throughout the process of peer observation, you will learn more about your teaching and how your students are learning.

Take some time to plan ways to improve your courses, and think about great things in your teaching you can share with others. It is your observer’s role to assist you in the process of review and reflection, with the aim of improving the quality of your teaching as well as highlighting good practice for wider dissemination.

1. Prepare

Decide what you want observed

Peer observation has the biggest impact when it is driven by what you want to achieve in your teaching. Take time to reflect and decide what you want a peer to look at within your teaching.

What would you like to know about your teaching? Options include, but aren’t limited to: how you teach with technology, your online interactions, questioning, class interactions, and communication.

All forms of teaching can be considered for review, not just lecturing. This could be a lecture, tutorial, laboratory, clinic, studio, practice or work-based learning session.

For large class sizes (over 500 students), the Active Learning Observation Tool (ALOT) may be suitable.

Choose your peer observer

Pick someone who can observe your class and give you valuable insights into what you would like to know about your teaching. Peers can be found in your school, discipline (both within and beyond UQ), and across UQ from our diverse disciplines including the College of Peer Observers.

Engaging someone to observe your teaching can be the start of a longer conversation about teaching and learning, can connect new people to your teaching, and can provide insights into your teaching from new perspectives. If you would like assistance finding a peer observer, email and we can help.

If your observer is based at another campus, or not able to attend your chosen class, the PIVOTAL project provides a guide to engaging in virtual observation partnerships.

Meet your peer observer

Whatever kind of peer observation you are planning, it is really useful to arrange a pre-meeting with your observer.

It’s best to have the pre-meeting a few days before the observation, to ensure your observer has time to prepare for the session. Just as importantly, it allows the observer to reflect on what he or she may gain from the observation, and how it may link to their own teaching (Race, 2009).

"It's an opportunity for the mentee [teacher] to discuss with the mentor [observer] the very specific areas where they would like feedback. For us, that process takes about half an hour." Jacqui Bond, School of Pharmacy.

Prepare the peer observation proforma (DOCX, 23KB) to ensure you and your observer are prepared to make the most of the observation and the conversation.

There are many questions you might like to consider during your meeting:

  • What is the background?
    Where are your students up to in the course? How is the course progressing? Is there anything particularly challenging or interesting you would like to focus on? Why are you engaging with peer observation? How have you been trying to improve your teaching?
  • How long is the session?
    What do you plan to happen over the session? Does the observer need to be there for all of the session? Are any sections more important for the observation?
  • How do you feel about the observation?
    Is this your first observation? Are you nervous?
  • What do you want the observer to do?
    Should the observer engage in class discussion? Where should the observer sit? Will they be introduced to the class?
  • What do you want to achieve?
    What do you want the observer to focus on in the observation? Choose with your observer a framework for identifying insights into your teaching.

Peer observation is about enhancing your teaching – there are many ways to do this, and we recommend you use what is most suitable for you. To help, we have collected a sample of pre-meeting forms and guides from other institutions and projects:

Peer observation workshops

Check Workday Learning for any upcoming Peer Observation workshop to learn how you can engage in this activity.