Observation Activity

Professor speaks to his class in language lab, CAS
Professor Scott Hartley, wearing protective glasses, talks with students in the lab, CAS

The Observation Activity is central to the review process and much of the data generated in the process are gathered from this activity.  There are several categories of observation, each with several possible sources of evidence. The reviewer and the instructor must agree on the specifics of the review, including the observation and subsequent instruments. Table 1 lists the Observation Activity categories, their characteristics, and possible sources of evidence for each category.

Table 1. Categories of Observation and Sources of Evidence (adapted from Chism, 1999)
Category Characteristics Sources of Evidence
Content Knowledge
  • Mastery/Accuracy
  • Appropriate Selection
  • Breadth of Knowledge
  • Tolerance of Diverse Points of View
  • Examples Given in Class
  • Responses to Questions
  • Classroom Observation Record
Course Design
  • Appropriate Challenge
  • Clarity of Goals and Objectives
  • Alignment with Curriculum
  • Syllabus
  • Stated Purpose of Lecture/Class Session

Teaching Methods

  • Worthwhile Activities
  • Variety of Approaches
  • Clarity and Organization
  • Effective Speaking Skills
  • Effective Student Interaction Skills
  • Accommodating of Disabilities
  • Classroom Observation Record (Appendix B1, B2)
  • Examination of Course materials
  • Examination of Student Ratings Scores
Student Communications
  • Accessibility to Students
  • Clarity
  • Responsiveness
  • Engagement
  • Tone of Syllabus
  • Responsiveness to Questions
  • Rapport with Students
  • Appropriate Design of Tests and Assignments
  • Alignment of Assessment and Goals
  • High Level of Cognitive Challenge
  • Clear, Appropriate Grading Criteria
  • Construction of Assessment Materials
Use of Technology
  • Interactivity
  • Accessibility
  • Alignment with Course Goals
Special Contexts (online courses, service learning, study abroad)
  • Rapport with Patients/Clients
  • Quality of Relationship with Onsite Preceptor/Supervisor
  • Collaboration with Co-teacher
  • Context Specific Evidence

Recommended Guidelines

These guidelines are general to all Observation Activities:

  • The report/letter from the reviewer should ideally be submitted within two weeks of the follow-up meeting.
  • Decisions about how the letter should be shared (email, paper) and to whom (instructor, chair, etc.) should be discussed prior to the review. It is recommended that formative reviews be sent only to the instructor.