Peer Observation Policy for the Graduate School Professional Development Programme

Rationale

The Graduate School system of peer observation has been designed to ensure, develop and support the quality of the training offered. The scheme also positively supports all tutors in their own professional development, complementing existing internal quality assurance mechanisms and is intended to be compatible with College peer observation policy.

Guiding Principles – Developing & Sharing Practice

Current internal quality assurance mechanisms include the observation of all new (or nearly new) workshops or new tutors by a member of the Postgraduate Professional Development Committee (PPDC) or Postgraduate Development Unit (PDU). Following the observation, a discussion between the observed and the observer takes place. Any instances of good practice or areas for development will be identified and followed up as necessary in order to ensure that the minimum standard for workshops is achieved.

All workshops are evaluated by means of a post-course questionnaire completed jointly, by the tutor and observer. These are processed and monitored by the Graduate School’s Programme Lead, Deputy Manager of the Graduate School as well as the Head of Postgraduate Professional Development and a summary document will be sent to the PPDC on an annual basis.  

It should be noted that new tutors will not be observed until the 3rd or 4th instance of course delivery.  This is to allow time to run through/learn course material and to make any necessary adjustments. 

Objectives:

The objectives of the peer observation policy are to:

  • encourage and motivate tutors to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching and learning
  • inform tutors for their professional development and to inform planning for their development
  • help tutors explore ways of enhancing the student learning experience
  • foster discussion and dissemination of effective practice in teaching and learning
  • contribute to quality assurance and evaluation processes
  • to share good practice across Graduate School courses

Peer Observation Policy

How does the peer observation process work?

1. At the start of each academic year, the Deputy Manager of the Graduate School and Head of Postgraduate Professional Development will develop an observation schedule, matching tutors to suitable observers. These observers will be drawn from members of the Graduate School’s tutor team and if necessary, members of the PPDC. Once the schedule has been confirmed, the Deputy Manager of the Graduate School will email all tutors due to be observed to let them know who will be observing them and when. It should be noted that tutors will be observed at least once every three years.

2. The observer is given a copy of this document as well as the Graduate School’s Professional Development Programme Peer Observation Guide-sheet, to assist with the observation of the workshop.

3. The observer does not need to see the entire workshop but should see enough to make a useful and informed evaluation, typically about 50 minutes, not less.

4. The observer and observed meet to discuss the observation immediately after the workshop or as soon as possible thereafter.

5. The observer should provide a copy of the completed form to the observed party which should include motivational and/or formative feedback, should summarise instances of good practice and should not be judgemental. 

6. The observer submits a copy of the completed form to the Deputy Manager of the Graduate School who will maintain the records.

7. Once both parties are happy with the information included in the completed form, it will be submitted to the following members of the Graduate School for information/review,

  • Deputy Manager of the Graduate School
  • Head of Postgraduate Professional Development  
  • Graduate School’s Programme Lead

8. An annual summary document giving details of the observations which have taken place in that academic session and including instances of best practices, will also be sent to the PPDC.

9. In the event that the observer recommends a follow-up observation, the tutor has the opportunity to arrange a further observation session (with the same or a different observer). This should normally take place at the next workshop facilitated by this tutor and certainly within 6 months of the first observation.

10. In the event that a second observation is required then more formal feedback to the tutor is recommended.  Any serious concerns will be reported to the Chair of PPDC.