Formative Teaching Observation
The instructional design consultants in Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) offer an observation service that provides formative, confidential, and timely feedback to instructors on their teaching and course-design practices across all course modalities. Instructors decide whether they will share the confidential feedback with others, such as a department chair or colleague. Our teaching observation service is intended to be a limited supplement to, not a replacement for, department-sponsored observations conducted by chairs, mentors, and/or peers.
Specific aspects of teaching that a consultant may provide feedback on include:
- Content delivery methods, organization, and clarity
- Instructor’s use of formative and summative assessment and the quality of the instructor’s feedback
- Quality and frequency of instructor-student and student-student interaction
- Frequency and type of student engagement in hands-on learning activities
- Effective practices and relevant use of classroom and online tools
- Other teaching topics identified through this process
The teaching observation service is a three-step process:
Step 1: Intake
All observations are preceded by an intake meeting between the consultant and the instructor. During this meeting the consultant and instructor will discuss the focus of the consultant’s observations, which may also include identifying an observational protocol that aligns with the instructor’s goals. In some cases, particularly when this service has been recommended to an instructor by the leader of their academic unit (head/chair/director), the consultant may request an intake meeting with the instructor and their chair. The purpose of this meeting is to make explicit the reasons for the observation and the goals for the feedback.
- Guiding questions for an intake meeting may include:
- How would you describe the challenges that you are facing in the classroom?
- What feedback would you like a consultant to provide?
- What are the main themes of the feedback that you have received from departmental peer reviews of instruction? From student course evaluations?
- How might you describe a successful outcome for our work together?
Step 2: Observation
For on-campus courses, the consultant attends between one and three class sessions to discreetly observe instructor and student activities and interaction. For online courses, the consultant views specific course information and online activity within myCourses and other course-related online resources for which the instructor has requested feedback. Both classroom and online class observations are always at the express invitation of the instructor.
Step 3: Post-Observation Debrief
The consultant and instructor schedule a meeting to review the consultant’s feedback and discuss instructional strategies that may help the instructor address their teaching goals, concerns, or interests.
Both the teaching observation and the small-group instructional feedback process are strictly confidential between a consultant and an instructor. The consultant will not share their observations with any other individuals, including RIT administration, other instructors, staff, or students. TLS is not affiliated with any of the RIT academic programs' tenure review processes. It is at the instructor's discretion whether or not they share the feedback with others, such as their department chair.