Peer observation guidelines

The key elements of the DClinPsy peer & stakeholder observation system are outlined below. This should be used in conjunction with the teaching observation feedback sheet.

Ethos

  • The peer & stakeholder observation system is based on the idea that anyone can observe anyone else.
  • The aim of observation is to help develop the process of learning and teaching (use of teaching aids, interactive/didactic style, and achievement of learning outcomes) and is not about advising on the content of the session.
  • The aim of observation is: to help individual teachers develop their skills and sessions; to help us develop a better understanding of teaching across the programme, and to share best practice.
  • Being observed during teaching is intended to be helpful development-focused process rather than something that should be seen as judgemental or anxiety-provoking.

Organisation of the peer observation system

  • Peer observation of teaching will be co-ordinated by the Curriculum Tutor and by the programme assistant for teaching.
  • Every member of the programme team engaged in teaching in a given academic year should be observed. In addition, at least 10% of external teachers should be observed every year.
  • If an external teacher requests to be observed, the course will do their best to facilitate this.
  • External teaching sessions are nominated for observation by strand team leads or others via the Curriculum Tutor. When selected, the teachers of those sessions should be informed with as much notice as possible and sent information about the peer observation process.
  • All programme staff are expected to conduct observations of teaching. The number of observations each staff member will be required to conduct will be calculated according to need, but is anticipated to be in the region of at least three observations per academic year for a full time staff member.
  • Other stakeholders of the programme are also encouraged to become observers, and the programme provides training in conducting observations to those interested. Newly trained observers will be invited to shadow and /or conduct their first observations in tandem with a member of programme staff.
  • Observations should last for a minimum of one hour.

The process of observation & feedback

  1. Prior to the teaching session (on the day or beforehand) the observer and teacher should meet to discuss the observation. The observer should be given a copy of the teaching plan for the session. The pre-observation conversation should include
    • A discussion about which section of the teaching it would be most helpful to observe,
    • The overall context of the teaching and what the teacher is aiming to achieve (including the learning outcomes for the session or observed section), and
    • Some information about what area(s) the teacher would most value feedback in.
    The observer should use the information to complete the first part of the observation feedback sheet.
  2. At the start of the observation, the observer(s) should introduce themselves to the trainees and explain why they are there.
  3. During the observation the observer should not take any active part in the teaching session. They should make notes on the observation feedback sheet.
  4. At the end of the teaching (or at a convenient break after the observation is complete) the teacher and observer(s) must meet so that the feedback on the teaching can be given, and to complete the final page of the feedback sheet.
  5. The observer must then return the feedback sheet to the programme office.

Points to remember when you are debriefing:

  • Focus on behaviour rather than the person.
  • Be specific.
  • Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
  • Feedback should be confidential unless otherwise agreed.
  • Give positive feedback first.
  • Be aware of the balance between positive and constructive feedback.
  • What is important is how and when you give feedback not just a matter of what you say.
  • Always allow those being debriefed to say something about their session first before you give feedback.
  • Make sure teachers have the opportunity to highlight problems and possible solutions first.
  • Effective feedback should be focused on the amount of information that the receiver can make use of rather than the amount you feel capable of giving.

Peer observation specimen letter
Peer observation feedback sheet
Peer and stakeholder teaching observation guidelines