22 SES 02 A, Dialogues between Peers through Feedback, Observation and Instruction
In increasingly demanding social and economic contexts, the quality of higher education has been widely discussed, particularly concerning its pedagogical practices. Knight and Trowler (2000) have suggested that the most effective practices in promoting students’ learning are the ones that involve deeper approaches to teaching through emphasizing the students’ motivation and independent learning and establishing a conducive environment to learning. Oppositely, surface approaches tend to emphasise the teacher, the content to be taught and the need to `cover the ground’. Furthermore, these authors concluded that a shift from surface to deeper approaches to teaching involves cultural changes in a departmental level that can only work through collaboration. Consequently, there has been a wider development of programs of Peer Observation of Teaching (POT) as collaborative devices for the improvement of pedagogical practices (Donnely, 2007; Mouraz, Lopes, & Martins Ferreira, 2013; Tenenberg, 2014). Gosling (2005) distinguished three POT models, according to the observer objectives and position: the evaluation model, the professional development model and the peer review model. In the peer review model, the objective is the improvement of lecturers’ practices but the observer is a peer who is often also observed (Weller 2009). Usually, class observation is considered to allow the observed learning through feedback from the observer (Fletcher and Orsmond, 2005, cited in Tenenberg, 2014). However, more recently, Tenenberg (2014) have defended that observation of teaching also leads the observer to learn. Mouraz, Lopes and Martins Ferreira (2013, p. 378) referred that “playing the role of observer is of fundamental importance to become aware of teacher and student behavior and attitudes, as well as to learn about other ways of being a teacher”.
In the University of Porto, a POT program is being implemented since 2011, with a multidisciplinary nature associated. Every semester, lecturers from 15 faculties of this university are invited to participate voluntarily in the program. Quartets are organized with 2 pairs of lecturers of 2 different faculties, in which each lecturer observes a class from a colleague of the same faculty and a colleague of a different faculty and is observed in the same conditions. These observation cycles involve pre-observation and post-observation moments. Emphasis is placed on the importance of the pre-observation moments, to establish the curricular context and the underlying teacher-student relationships and teacher concerns. In relation to the post-observation moment, emphasis is placed on the importance of the feedback, and on the associated communication skills, in order to foster reflection and professional development (Mouraz, Lopes, & Martins Ferreira, 2013). The training aspect associated with the observer’s role in this Multidisciplinary Peer Observation of Teaching (MPOT) program is addressed through the use of a specific form to be completed anonymously during and post-observation, in order to stimulate reflection in the observers.
Furthermore, an impact study was carried out in 2014 in which several participants in the MPOT program were interviewed. Drawing from data collected both in fulfilled observation forms since 2012 and from the interviews of 2014, a study was made with the aim of identifying which pedagogical aspects lecturers that participated in the MPOT program paid more attention in their class observations.
To lead this study the following research questions were established:
- To which pedagogical dimensions higher education lecturers pay more attention in their class observations? And, are there any differences between lecturers of different faculties?
This paper aims at presenting and discussing preliminary findings from this study in order to identify indicators of teachers’ learning in the MPOT program under consideration and possibilities of shift from surface to deeper approaches to teaching.
Donnelly, R. 2007. Perceived impact of peer observation of teaching in higher education. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 19(2), 117-129. Gosling, D. 2005. Peer observation of teaching. Birmingham, WM: SEDA. Knight, P., and P. Trowler. 2000. Departmental-level cultures and the improvement of learning and teaching. Studies in Higher Education 25, no. 1: 69-83. Mouraz, A., Lopes, A., & Martins Ferreira, J. M. (2013). Higher education challenges to teaching practices: perspectives drawn from a multidisciplinary peer observation of teaching program. International Journal of Advanced Research, 1(6), 377-386. North Idaho College. 2010. Teaching observation form. http://www.nic.edu/modules/images/websites/108/file/obs1.pdf Tenenberg, J. (2014). Learning through observing peers in practice. Studies in Higher Education, 1-18. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2014.950954 Vieira, F., Silva, J.L., Melo, M.C., Moreira, M.A., Oliveira, L.R., Gomes, C., Albuquerque, P.B., & Sousa., M. (2004). Transformar a pedagogia na universidade: Experiências de investigação do ensino e da aprendizagem. Braga: Universidade do Minho, CIEd. Weller, S. 2009. What does “peer” mean in teaching observation for the professional development of higher education lecturers?. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(1), 25-35.
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