DEVELOPING A TOOL FOR OBSERVATIONS IN HIGHER EDUCATION TEACHING: CAN ONE SIZE FIT ALL?
University of Worcester (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:With the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2016 by the Department of Education in England, there has been an increased focus on the quality of teaching within higher education institutions. Gibbs (2016) states that the quality of teaching can be measured using various different metrics. Observations of teaching, have in the past, confirmed successful probationary periods, assisted with professional development and provided evidence for performance management and recognition and reward applications. As Thompson, Bell and Hendry (2015) suggest, peer observations are generally undertaken for developmental purposes, whereas observation for performance evaluation has very different intentions. They go on to state that alongside these different intentions, the subjective nature of observation has led to an increased focus on the effectiveness of the documentation utilised.
Amid the plethora of reasons for undertaking teaching observations, is it possible to develop a universal tool that can capture and verify the quality of teaching, whilst also providing evidence as part of increased external accountability? The teaching observation template developed in an attempt to meet these differing demands, takes into account the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) (Higher Education Academy (HEA), 2011) having been mapped against the institutions’ own teaching domains. Six institutes within the University of Worcester trialled the multi-dimensional observation tool. Observers and those observed evaluated its effectiveness. This paper explores the dichotomy between an observation tool for professional development purposes and one that holds academics to account.
Keywords: Teaching observation, quality of teaching, higher education.