Implementation of a Quality Initiative in Higher Education - Peer Observation of Teaching
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The change chosen for this project was the introduction of a pilot of peer observation of teaching. This was a joint project between the writer and a colleague. The rationale for choosing this project was the drive for enhanced quality assurance in teaching and learning within the writer’s organisation. The ultimate aim of this drive is that teaching and learning should be provided to the highest standards, and these standards should be continuously evaluated. Peer observation of teaching is one method of such evaluation; however developments were in an embryonic phase. Kotter’s change model and the CIPP evaluation model provided guidance throughout the project. A survey was sent to 66 undergraduate teaching staff to elicit perceptions of peer observation of teaching. Education was then provided to staff volunteers, following which they undertook one peer observation of teaching session, 5 staff acted as observers and 5 acted as observees. Focus group interviews were then held with the volunteers (n=7). Results from both the survey and focus groups were in congruence with each other and also with the literature, staff welcome the implementation of peer observations of teaching, favour a formative, developmental model, and suggest a structured observation tool with possibility for open ended comments. Staff had no previous training in giving or receiving feedback, or in use of formal reflection methods. The evaluation of the project provided the writer with guidance for the development of a model for the full roll out of peer observation within the organisation.