It is College policy that every academic department operates a system of peer observation of teaching which meets certain minimum requirements (see below) and in which all members of teaching staff are included.
It is important to emphasise that the College-wide policy is to ensure a process of peer support and professional development in teaching and supporting learning; it should not be a managerial process.
Peer observation of teaching is of value because it:
- encourages reflection on the process of teaching;
- contributes to raising the level of discussion in departments about teaching;
- contributes to improving teaching;
- provides context for the teacher when compared with other forms of evaluation (e.g. student evaluation forms);
- demonstrates to students the department’s concern with evaluating provision;
- can be used to identify departmental staff development needs;
- contributes to effective departmental quality review and enhancement processes;
- enables non-established teaching staff to engage in the department’s discussions on teaching.
The minimum requirements of a peer observation scheme are that:
- there is a record that it is taking place;
- the department has a mechanism to ensure all teaching staff are participating;
- each member of staff observes another staff member once a year as a minimum, and they are also observed at least once in each year;
- observation pairings are changed on an annual basis;
- the purpose and structure of the system is understood by departmental staff;
- the scheme adheres to recognised good practice (see below);
- departments establish mechanisms to enable appropriate feedback from their peer observation scheme to contribute to staff development planning and curriculum development planning (e.g. through a report on identified good practice to the departmental Teaching Committee or other identified mechanism);
Departments will be asked to comment on the effectiveness of their peer observation scheme at Periodic Departmental Review.