Reasons For Peer Observation

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2.4 Reasons for peer observation “I take substantial comfort from the growing interest in observational research. For perhaps in the argument between theory and practice, it is observational research which is the intermediary. In twenty years’ time the major advances in our understanding of ELT will … be seen as coming not from the psycholinguistic end of our profession … but from this sociologically inspired sphere of investigation— the scientific study of what actually and beneficially happens in classrooms.” (Bowers 1986, cited in Sheal 1989, 92) There are a variety of reasons why peer observation has become more wide spread. Peer observation has been a response to the quality assurance agenda. More recently, the debate has moved towards…show more content…
By choosing a comfortable teaching situation to be observed (as many of our less enthusiastic colleagues do) there is less to be gained in terms of professional development as teachers. I actually thought to myself I would take the opportunity to be peer observed in the setting of a challenging session. I thought that actually it would be the most useful time to have feedback on what was going on. I was having difficulty with a session and I wanted to work out why. Maybe not many of my colleagues would do the same thing, but I think that would be nice to encourage people to do that. The level of engagement with the peer observation process also depends on lecturers’ professional identities – whether you consider your stance to be from within or without the teaching community, and what you consider your role to be within that community (Åkerlind, 2004), “If you say “I am a edic/historian/engineer”, then the process may seem less relevant. But if you say, “I am an educationalist”, as many of us do, then the rationale for peer observation becomes clear.” Hutchings (1994) suggests that there are three main arguments for the peer observation that should be considered by the academic community: • To encourage collaboration amongst academic staff in order to share ideas and good practice; • To ensure that the enhancement of teaching is largely the…show more content…
Research participants acknowledged its ability to help develop their teaching practice, but they also reported that it could operate superficially as a tick box exercise, that its outcomes were frequently decoupled from formal staff development processes, and that its purpose and usefulness therefore seemed unclear. This article argues that the presence of decoupling reinforces the need to account for structural factors that can interact with peer observation of teaching to ensure it is a meaningful exercise for all teaching staff. It concludes that the published academic literature is perhaps guilty of overplaying the role of personal choice and individual tutor characteristics when addressing the complex issue that is staff disengagement with peer observation of
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