Learning Experience Observers
Typically, the Learning Experience Observation Program is a partnership between two people: a student observer and a faculty partner. These partnerships challenge the traditional “consumer” model of learning in which information is transmitted by the teacher and students passively take in the information. Instead, students are “legitimate informants” Cook-Sather, Bovill, and Felten, Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: A guide for faculty, 2014, p. 16) and consultants who help to shape the educational experience for others.
These student-faculty partnerships are collaborative, reciprocal processes through which all participants have the opportunity to contribute, albeit in different ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualization, decision making, implementation, investigation, and analysis (Ibid p. 7).
The Learning Experience Observation Program is not designed to bring about change for its own sake, but to achieve a deeper understanding of teaching and learning that comes from shared analysis and revision (Ibid, p. 23). The goals of this program are to:
- Allow faculty and students to explore questions relating to teaching and learning in an affirming way so as to improve and develop effective classroom practices,
- Foster open, critical, constructive dialogue between faculty and students in support of good teaching,
- Change the culture at the Claremont Colleges so that dialogues about teaching and learning among faculty and students is natural, common, and desired.
This program relies heavily on a productive partnership between students and faculty. We hope that the partnership between the student observer and faculty partner will demonstrate these three R’s:
- Respect = an attitude in which one takes seriously and values what someone else brings to an encounter; an openness and willingness to consider experiences and perspectives that are different from our own; requires withholding of judgment
- Reciprocity = though student observer and faculty partner have different perspectives and expertise and the faculty remains the authority over the class, their interaction is characterized by a balanced give-and-take
- Responsibility = Reliability, trustworthiness that allow both student observer and faculty partner to rely on the other for contributions to learning in the classroom
Since the student observer and faculty partner typically do not know each other beforehand, we do not expect these partnerships to emerge in full bloom—instead, they grow over time.
Student observers will typically sit quietly in class and record notes. The student observer and faculty partner will meet about once a week to go over those notes and discuss new questions and ideas. The student observer will also meet regularly with CTL staff for ongoing training and support.