The Bok Center is pleased to invite faculty teaching in the FAS to join our Peer Observation Program. This program is designed to provide faculty with a supportive community of colleagues with whom they can share experiences and materials as they develop as instructors. Every semester we sponsor several cohorts from the divisions of the FAS, including the Program in General Education; each cohort includes three faculty plus one facilitator from Bok’s senior staff. Faculty participants have the opportunity to observe, and to be observed by, the members of their cohort as they teach their courses, and to debrief their observations in a collegial environment.
What and Why?
Peer observations are formative, non-evaluative, and never constitute a judgment upon the faculty member's abilities. They are, rather, an opportunity for participants to learn about how someone standing in the role of a student experiences their teaching and their classroom environment. To use a sports analogy, such observations can provide instructors with the same benefits that athletes gain from watching footage of a competition the day after after it has ended—a chance to review with hindsight the decisions you made in the moment (and even choices that did not feel like decisions at the time), and to consider alternative possibilities for how to structure a class session.
For more on the benefits of peer observation, see Maryellen Weimer, "Peer Review Strategies that Keep the Focus on Better Teaching," Faculty Focus (2017).
The program is intended for faculty actively teaching in the College, including tenured and tenure-track faculty as well as preceptors, College Fellows, and lecturers.
We are able to facilitate several peer observation cohorts per term, each of which will include three faculty members drawn from different disciplines within the same Division (Arts and Humanities, Social Science, Science [including SEAS], and the Program in General Education). This will guarantee that each instructor will have the chance to experience a diversity of teaching styles, while still ensuring that they remain relatable and analogous to at least some of the classroom styles and pedagogical goals that characterize their home disciplines.
Each cohort will also include a senior member of the Bok Center's staff to serve as a facilitator.
When and How?
In deference to faculty's busy, and often overlapping, teaching schedules, this semester's peer observation program will take advantage of the Bok Center's capacity to record class meetings for subsequent viewing at a "watch party." The Bok Center will send a staff member to record a class session of each participant's choosing. After each participant’s class session has been recorded, the cohort will meet in-person for a "watch party" where the cohort will view and debrief the recording together, discussing what each person thought worked well and what might be improvable. The process would be repeated for each member of the cohort.
Before the recording and watch parties begin, each cohort will gather for a brief, in-person introductory meeting, where the members can introduce themselves, discuss the Center's recommended protocol for conducting peer observations, and choose the dates on which they would like to be recorded and to meet to debrief their recordings. In total, we expect the average participant to commit no more than 7 hours to the program over the course of the semester (though we are happy to accommodate those participants who wish to engage further!).
Please contact Eleanor Finnegan, Assistant Director, Faculty Programming for more information about the Peer Observation Program.