Multi-Campus Teaching Observation Program

One of the most effective ways to enhance our teaching is to invite colleagues into our classrooms to give us feedback. The Claremont Colleges have designed a program to facilitate and encourage faculty peers giving each other feedback on their teaching. The faculty member who observes (at least twice) and provides feedback will receive a $100 honorarium from the college of the faculty member being observed, and the college will also pay for an on-campus lunch for both people to debrief about the observations.

Here’s how it works:

  • Connect

    Find a faculty member or instructional staff at the Claremont Colleges who is interested in observing your class and giving you feedback. (Send them to http://teaching.claremont.edu/observation/ so they can learn more about how it works.) Alternatively, contact the CTL if you would like us to connect you to someone that might be able to give you useful feedback.

  • Set Goals

    Chat briefly with the person who will observe you about the class that you want observed and the kind of feedback that you want to receive. We recommend using this Pre-Observation Conference Form to help guide your conversation.

  • Get Feedback

    Schedule at least two times when your observer will visit your class. Also, schedule meeting(s) to debrief. Your college will cover the cost of an lunch meeting at any dining hall on campus. (Save your lunch receipt!)

  • Wrap Up

    Fill out the following form (URL: http://bit.ly/mctop-form) after your debrief meeting. This form will also allow you to submit your receipt for on-campus lunch for reimbursement. The CTL will work with your dean’s office to process the honorarium check for your observer and lunch reimbursement for you.

Funding for the program is limited. To inquire about the availability of funds, please send an email to ctl@claremont.edu.

CTL staff are here to provide support at every stage of the process and beyond. Whether you need help interpreting and enacting the feedback that you receive, or you want to dive deeper into some aspect of your teaching, we’re here to help you enhance your teaching. For more details, look at the services that we offer to faculty.

Teaching Observation Forms

Teaching is a complicated activity in which there are many things happening in the classroom at once. These simple forms provide the observer a way to focus their attention so as to provide feedback that is most meaningful to the person being observed. We recommend that the person being observing and the person doing the observing chat briefly about the goals of the observation and whether one of these observation forms below might be a good fit.

  • Double-Entry Narrative Form
    This form will help the observer separate observations from reflections and interpretations about those observations. It is a general purpose form that is used in many settings.
  • Time-Use Observation Form
    Use this form if you would like to get feedback on how you manage your time in class.
  • Student Engagement Observation Form
    Use this form if you would like to get feedback on how students are engaged in your class.
  • Group Dynamics Observation Form
    Use this form if you spend a significant amount of time having students working in small groups and you want to get feedback on how they are interacting with each other and how you interact with them in groups.
  • Questions Observation Form
    Use this form to get feedback on the quality of the questions that you are in class and how students respond to them.
  • Observation Form for Foreign Language Classes
    This form, developed by Spanish faculty at Pitzer College, is specifically designed for foreign language classes.

5 Tips for Giving Effective Feedback on Teaching

  • Be authentic, respectful, supportive, empathetic, non-judgmental.

  • Present the observed data, then draw conclusions together.

  • Be specific. Give concrete suggestions. Avoid vague impressions.

  • Give feedback on behavior, rather than on the person.

  • Schedule your debrief meeting as soon as possible after the observation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I let my students know that they will be observed?

A: We recommend that you let students know that there will be a visitor in class so they aren’t distracted. It is best to let students know about the observation in a class meeting prior to when the observation will take place. Tell students (1) that feedback is an important part of learning and that you are committed to enhancing your teaching, (2) to try to ignore the observer as best as they can, and (3) that what they say and do will not be shared with others.

Q: How will my participation in this program affect my reappointment, tenure, or promotion?

A: This program is completely independent of the faculty review process. Any information from participation in this program will not be provided to review committees. The faculty member being observed is in control over whether and how to share details about the observation and feedback in their review materials. The person doing the observing should not submit a letter on behalf of the faculty member being observed without their consent.

Q: My dean/chair suggested to me that I should take advantage of this program. Does that mean that there are concerns about my teaching?

A: Peer observations of teaching should be a natural part of our work as faculty members. This program is not designed to “remediate” instructors who are lacking in their teaching. Instead, it is designed to support all faculty who want to be more effective teachers. Participation in this program should be completely voluntary and faculty have control over what information they share with others about their peer observation experiences. All requests for information about the participation of a faculty member in this program from a department chair, administrator, or any other person, will be politely declined by CTL staff.

Q: Can we both observe each other?

A: Yes! You can observe each other and both receive an honorarium (and two on-campus lunches). To be eligible for funding, the only restriction is that the person being observed needs to have an academic appointment that involves teaching at the Claremont Colleges.

Q: Do the two people involved have to be ladder faculty?

A: No. Visiting faculty, part-time faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and teaching librarians are all eligible to participate. To be eligible for funding, the only restriction is that the person being observed needs to have an academic appointment that involves teaching at the Claremont Colleges.

Q: What is the maximum amount that we be reimbursed for lunch?

A: The program will only cover the cost of an on-campus lunch at one of the dining halls. Please save your receipt to be reimbursed.

Q: Does the faculty member that observes me have to be affiliated with a different college than my own?

A: No.

Q: Do the two observations have to be of the same class?

A: No.

Q: Do we have to use an observation form to qualify?

A: No. However, we recommend some tool for recording information during the observation as it will help you receive the feedback that you are looking for.