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Institute for Faculty Development



Peer Observations of Teaching

Observations of teaching can provide teachers with formative information. They also can provide summative information, such as that required by the personnel process for tenure-track faculty at Stockton. This page has two sections: Advice for those being observed and Advice for those observing. Here is a short handout that provide this advice in more detail.

Advice for those being observed

The IFD recommends that new faculty, including adjunct, 13D, and 13O faculty, strongly consider being observed at least once in their first semester. Observations can be used informally to inform a conversation with a colleague about teaching. Or, they may be used formally to provide additional data, in addition to student evaluations, to inform personnel decisions. Most frequently, they are used in both ways. 

Tenure track faculty need to have two formal observations a year that they can use in their personnel files. Faculty starting in Fall 2012 or later need two even from their first year; Faculty starting before Fall 2012 may have two fewer total observations at any given time as they were not required to be observed in year one:

Year one (file due in January): 2 observations required, can be completed at any time in fall and spring terms.

Year two (file due in January or February): 4 observations required

Year three (file due in February): 6 observations required (two new observations since the last file deadline)

Year four (file due in February): 8 observations required (two new observations since the last file deadline)

Year five (no file due): 0 observations required

Total: a minimum of 8 observations are required before a tenure-track candidate's tenure file is due. More are permitted, but not required. All observations must be completed by a tenured faculty member selected by the observee in consultation with that person's Review Advisor and Dean. At least one observation must be of a General Studies course unless General Studies teaching is not part of the faculty member's contract.

General advice from the IFD is that  unless program standards provide guidance that prohibits this, most candidates will be well served by having, among the six minimum observations, the following:

Readers of the above advice should note, however, that the advice in italics is advice, and faculty do not need to heed it. The IFD also advises that faculty keep these things in mind when choosing observers:

Participants in the first Summer Institute for Peer Evaluation of Teaching recommend that faculty might consider have two observers at the same time, one a content specialist and one a pedagogy specialist.

FAQ about observations:

1)   Faculty in my program seem to be having observers observe the same lesson in multiple semesters. Can they do this? Yes, they can. Should they? That depends. It may be wise to show growth over time, or it may lead evaluators to wonder if they have put lots of energy into one perfect lesson. Whether the latter worries you depends in part upon whether you want to know of a faculty member’s typical teaching or of their potential for good teaching. And these issues are complex, different people will have different opinions, and each candidate is unique. Candidates might be wise to consider this choice carefully and discuss it with multiple people whose opinions they trust.

 Advice for those observing

In Summer 2012, the college sponsored a Summer Institute for Peer Evaluation of Teaching. Participants are available to consult with colleagues planning to observe others and a summary of advice and discussion from that group (informed by published literature on the topic and a practice observation, as well as experience on PRC's and the FRC, observing, being observed, and mentoring) is available.  Also available are samples of observation write ups (observations of video classes available on you tube) by various observers, including Tara Crowell and Judy Vogel. The Institute participants also recommend that sample rubrics, checklists, etc. are helpful to remind observers of what they might attend to, while those participants warn against using them for the write up, preferring narrative accounts for Stockton use. Observers are recommended but not required for candidates for promotion and Visiting faculty. Observers for tenure-track faculty must be tenured faculty, elected by the faculty candidate in consultation with her/his Review Adviser and Dean. Observers are, by college procedure, required to review course materials (at minimum, the syllabus). They should discuss the class with the observee before the observation, asking about the teacher's goals for the class session and the course and learning of any particular areas of interest for the teacher. They should write up the class observation as quickly as possible (within two weeks, by college procedure). It must (by college procedure) connect the observer's observations to the college and program standards for excellence in teaching, available on the Academic Affairs website. The observer should share the write up with the observee and discuss the observation, then make any changes to the write up. The final copy of the write up should be given to the observee as it is that person's responsibility to place it in any personnel files.

·         Deborah Gussman, Associate Professor of Literature and WGSS, ARHU

·         Michael Hozik, Professor of Geology, NAMS

·         Marissa Levy, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, SOBL

·         Betsy McShea, Associate Professor of Developmental Math, GENS

·         Pat Reid Merrit, Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Africana Studies, SOBL

·         Jed Morfit, Associate Professor of Art, ARHU

·         Shanthi Rajaraman, Associate Professor of Chemistry, NAMS

·         Elizabeth Shobe, Associate Professor of Psychology, SOBL

Judy Vogel, Associate Professor of Mathematics, NAMS

Bill Reynolds, Associate Professor of Social Work, SOBL

Christine Tartaro, Professor of Criminal Justice, SOBL

Ellen Mutari, Professor of Economics, SOBL

Amy Ackerman, Associate Professor of Instructional Technology, EDUC

Gorica Majstorovic, Associate Professor of Spanish, ARHU

Kory Olson, Associate Professor of French, ARHU

Tara Crowell, Associate Professor of Public Health, HLTH

Brian Tyrrell,Professor of Business Studies, BUSN

Aakash Taneja, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems, CSIS

Michael Scales, Associate Professor of Business Studies, BUSN