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The Student Observer Program is a unique faculty development opportunity designed to assist faculty with further developing or improving their teaching.
This program can provide faculty and departments with useful feedback on educational strategies. Student Observers are carefully selected and trained undergraduate students who observe classes and work with the faculty to improve teaching. They serve as excellent resources for instructors, providing valuable data to supplement student evaluations and peer review.
Participation in the Student Observer Program by faculty is voluntary and observation information gathered is confidential.
Student Observer Program Benefits
The program is faculty driven and completely confidential which allows faculty an opportunity to gain valuable, objective feedback from students genuinely interested in helping further develop teaching and learning at the University.
Some faculty choose to include the feedback in their Dossier when going up for promotion and tenure, others may chose to keep the information confidential and use it as a tool to improve upon their teaching, and some may use an initial observation as a baseline and request another once they have implemented changes to determine effectiveness and/or improvement.
Request a Student Observer
A faculty member interested in having a Student Observer submits an online request to the University Teaching Center. Once the request is received, the Student Observer Program manager matches a Student Observer with the faculty member preferably with content knowledge in a course specified within the faculty’s request.
Once a Student Observer is matched with a faculty member the Observation Process consists of the following four steps:
Step 1 - The Pre-Observation Meeting: During this meeting the Student Observer meets with the faculty member to gain a better understanding of the particular needs of the faculty member and finalize details such as dates and times of the observations. It is often helpful for the instructor to provide a course syllabus to the Observer at this meeting.
Step 2 - The Observations: The Student Observer observes the class 2-3 times collecting data during each observation
Step 3 - The Observation Report: The student observer uses the data collected over the course of the observations to generate a 2-3 page Observation Feedback Report for the faculty member
Step 4 –-The Post Observation Meeting: The student meets with the faculty member to share the Observation Feedback Report with him/her. Observation Feedback Reports are generated according to the type of observation that is requested/conducted.
The Four Types of Observations offered include:
General Class Observation : During this type of observation the Student observer focuses on how the class proceeded or what happened during class
Focused Class Observation : During this type of observation the Student Observer is watching for a specific behavior or concern as requested by the faculty member, i.e., distracting mannerisms
Course Content Observation: During this type of observation the Student observer focuses on the course content taking notes as if enrolled in the course
Facilitated Class Observation: During this type of observation the Student Observer spends 20-30 minutes conducting
an observation activity with the
How do students sign up to be a student observer?
Students are nominated/recommended by faculty and/or recruited through the University Teaching Center.