The methods that can be used for peer observation are as varied as the participants themselves.

Here are some other methods and resources you may like to consider to help improve your teaching and learning at UQ.

Partnerships in Virtual Observation of Teaching and Learning

PIVOTAL (Partnerships in Virtual Observation of Teaching and Learning) is a flexible process of peer observation of teaching particularly suited to small group teaching. PIVOTAL was developed by Dr Michaela Kelly, Primary Care Clinical Unit, and supported by a UQ Teaching Fellowship.

Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM

COPUS (Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM) was adapted from other protocols as part of the Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia, and is used in a range of contexts across UQ.

Tools are available to support this approach:

Reciprocal groups

Goodwin (2014) notes that it’s not only common, but also beneficial to move beyond a pairing of peer observer and peer observee in order to give and gain feedback on teaching.

Reciprocal groups who meet together to prepare for observation, take turns observing each others’ classrooms, and then meet again to debrief after the observation can benefit all teachers involved, no matter their level of experience in the classroom.

Reciprocal groups can be formed in many ways. A group could consist of a pair of teachers who agree to observe each other's classrooms and then discuss their observations. Or a group could be made up of three or four teachers who take turns observing everyone else in the group and then meet to discuss their observations as a larger group.

The teachers can be from within the same discipline or from disparate disciplines. The makeup of the group is entirely up to the participants.

Beyond teaching

Observation doesn’t have to stop at teaching. In fact, that might be a jumping-off point to discuss other aspects of teaching and learning.

For example, a group of teachers might meet to read through and discuss assignment guidelines, a syllabus or a unit lesson plan. A group might even take turns micro-teaching to each other, which would involve preparing a short lesson and ‘practice teaching’ it to the group. This scenario works especially well if a teacher is interested in trying out a new technique or technology.

Local customisation

Currently, there are active peer observation programs in Pharmacy, Medicine and Engineering. Each was developed with the school or faculty’s needs in mind.

These variations represent only the beginning of what peer observation has to offer teachers at UQ.

Peer observation elsewhere

Peer observation is a central aspect of professional development at many institutions and has been the focus of a range of OLT projects:

Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (PATS)
PATS offers a range of structured programs using peer assistance to enhance teaching and learning.

Oxford Brookes Peer Enhancement of Teaching, Learning and Assessment
PETAL offers a set of processes that support those involved in teaching and supporting learning at the University to build on what we already do to review and improve our teaching practices.

Missouri University of Science and Technology: Teaching Partners Program
Teaching Partners is a confidential professional development service for instructors who want to enhance their teaching through peer observation and feedback. Trained faculty mentors meet with interested instructors in a collegial atmosphere, where there is mutual sharing that benefits both parties.

ALTC project: Peer Review of Teaching (PRT) website
The Peer Review of Teaching (PRT) website is part of a two-year project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC)/Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT).

Phil Race's Guide to the Peer Observation of Teaching
Professor Race's guides to teaching and learning in higher education include detailed information about peer observation.

HEA: Example of Peer Observation proformas
The UK's Higher Education Academy provides a resource library which includes this 2011 collection of proformas to support peer observation.