Teaching Observations

Teaching observations entail inviting someone—a Teaching Center staff member or a colleague from your department or elsewhere in the College—to sit in on your class to provide you with constructive feedback about your teaching. Its aim is not to replace student evaluations, but rather to provide an alternative perspective on your teaching.

Teaching Center observations are also completely confidential—we will only release the observations and report to you. Subsequently, it is up to you whether or not you would like to share it with your department chair (or anyone else).

Who might be interested in a teaching observation?

  • Pre-tenure faculty interested in getting feedback for their tenure applications
  • Instructors who are interested in getting an outsider's take on their teaching
  • Anyone else who feels that such an evaluation might benefit their teaching practice

Why should I have a teaching observation? What's in it for me?

  • Gain professional or collegial input into the teaching and learning that is happening in your classroom
  • Encourage conversations about good practice in college-level teaching: what works, what does not, what could be done differently (and how)
  • Get deeper pedagogical insights than from student evaluations alone

How to Get Started

Request a Teaching Center Observation

The first step is to contact the Teaching Center and request a teaching observation. We will do a pre-observation briefing with you, during which the goals of the evaluation and the specific aspects of the classroom practice that you would like evaluated are discussed. To request a teaching center observation, email the Teaching Center.

Request a Colleague Observation

Naturally, choosing a colleague to review your teaching should be done thoughtfully. You want to begin by thinking of colleagues who would offer supportive and constructive feedback. Beyond that, you might also find the following to be helpful in making a choice:

  • If the principle criterion for the evaluation is subject expertise, ask someone who has specific subject knowledge of the content area that you are teaching.
  • If the principle criterion for your peer evaluation is good pedagogy (i.e., good teaching practice), you may wish to ask a colleague who has won a teaching award or simply someone whose teaching you respect.

The Teaching Center can provide observation templates and training for instructors conducting teaching observations for their colleagues.