Sally Fincher hcidc 4th April 2008 Observations on Peer Observation
Our keenest observers Any school-child playing “teacher” will reproduce most of the behaviours used by most teachers. Typical behaviours are: • standing in the front of a group of relatively passive onlookers (a position of authority), • doing most of the talking (telling), • asking questions to which they know the answers (testing), and • evaluating by passing judgements. Yet, no research base indicates that these behaviours have a payoff in terms of learning, and much indicates that they do not.
Observation can describe various categories of behaviour Affective The emotional content of communication Cognitive The intellectual content of communication Psychomotor Nonverbal behaviours, such as posture, body position, facial expression & gestures Activity What is being done that relates a person to someone - or something - else. (For example reading, or hitting) Content What is being talked about Sociological Structure The sociology of the interactive setting, including who is talking to whom and in what roles Physical environment Descriptions of the physical space in which the observation is taking place, including materials and equipment being used
Reflective Pause • What artefacts did your observation generate? • Have you further processed them, or referred to them subsequently?
Observation artefacts • There are several ways to “record” observation, partially depending on the purpose of the observation. You may see: • Checklist forms (“The instructor stated the objectives of the class” yes/no) • Scaled rating forms (“The instructor was well-prepared for class” 5/4/3/2/1) • Narrative prompt forms “Comment on the importance, currency & accuracy of the content presented by the instructor”)
Observation artefacts: narrative logs • More elaborate forms include narrative logs, which describes the course of a class. These can be presented in “double entry” form with description in one column and reflections in the other.
Observation artefacts: teacher behaviour • Teacher behaviour systems are quite complex and require training and purposeful use. • For example, the Cognitive Interaction Analysis System (CAIS) requires the observer to make a “category notation” every 3 seconds recording the nature of the interaction.
1. Accepting student attitudes 1h Use of humour1f Affective instructor comments 4. Asking questions 4c Knowledge level4e Example level4a Analysis level4y Synthesis level4j Evaluation level4f Affective questions4s Process questions4r Rhetorical questions4p Probing questions 6. Providing cues 6m Focusing on main points6d Giving directions6c Calling on a student6s Giving assignments6v Cues with visual presentation 7. Criticism of student answer 8. Cognitive Student Talk 8c-8j Answers to teacher questions8n Student doesn’t know answer8q Student question Example CAIS categories
Uses for observation: (i) Development You can use observation for expanding your repertoire of teaching styles and for getting data about how your teaching style(s) match your intent. Some dimensions of teaching: • Participation – amount and kind • Cognitive level • Affective climate • Classroom control • Student-student interaction • Teacher role flexibility • Classroom methods
Uses for observation: (ii) Supervision/Appraisal Observations can change this role from rater to resource Can we become effective self-evaluators of our own skills?
Uses for observation: (iii) Discovery/Evidencing Observation systems can be used for describing the conditions needed to support any learning environment (including electronic, of course) To provide the necessary environment for learning, teachers must first be aware of, and in control of, their own verbal and non-verbal communication to students just as they control the subject matter. They must also understand what “kinds of environment” tend to foster (or inhibit) what effects in others. What makes a learning environment “low risk”? What makes your learning environment “low risk”?
References • The content of this presentation was inspired by Mirrors for Observation III: An anthology of observation instruments edited by Anita Simon and E. Gil Boyer Communications Materials Center, Pennsylvania USA, 1974 • Examples were taken from: Peer Review of Teaching: A Sourcebook Nancy Van Note Chism, Anker Publishing Company, Bolton, MA, USA, 1999
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