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Open Classrooms: Visit Your Colleagues' Courses

Background

Many faculty members have asked the DCAL directors to form an informal mentoring network around teaching and learning at Dartmouth. We have a diversely talented teaching faculty at Dartmouth and we can learn a great deal from each other. DCAL will get this informal network started by setting up a system for visiting colleagues' classes, not for evaluation purposes, but for sharing and learning from each other.  We'd like to open windows into our courses and classrooms by making visiting simple and inspiring.

DCAL will support classroom visits by

  • offering recommendations for the process of planning visits
  • funding a luncheon for pairs of instructors who have completed a visit
  • scheduling an end-of-term luncheon discussion for participants in class visits

In order to qualify for a luncheon reimbursement from DCAL, two instructors must

  • notify Elaine Livingston in DCAL of your intention to schedule a visit
  • complete the visit
  • bring an itemized luncheon receipt for two, dated after the class visit, to Elaine Livingston

We want this process to be simple, unencumbered by elaborate evaluation schemes and rubrics, but we have supplied some recommendations and documents below that might help you make the most of your visit.

Please note that you need not schedule two visits, one for each participant's course, to qualify for the luncheon reimbursement. Each class visit qualifies both participants for a lunch on DCAL. Librarians, educational technologists and other staff who support learning at Dartmouth are also eligible as visitors, but you must arrange the visit with the course instructor.

Recommendations

To ensure that classroom observations are useful and enjoyable for both the observers and instructors we recommend the following:

1. Before the Classroom Visit:

  1. Meet or exchange email before the classroom visit takes place to discuss a focus for the classroom visit (e.g., focus on lecturing style or use of small groups in class) and share information.
  2. Instructors should give the observer access to their Blackboard site or website or a copy of their syllabus and other supporting material that might be useful prior to the visit.
  3. In cases where an instructor has posted recordings of their class meetings (audio, video or Camtasia capture) the visitor may listen to/watch the recording of the class meeting just previous to the visit.

2. Classroom Visit:

  1. The observer should arrive early to class.
  2. The instructor should briefly introduce the observer.
  3. The observer should stay alert for new ideas and practices.

3. After the Classroom Visit:

  1. The observer and instructor should meet for lunch within a week or so after the classroom visit, and then submit an itemized receipt to DCAL for reimbursement

Forms

The following forms may or may not be useful to you; they are meant simply to provide some ideas. They tend to focus more on evaluation than we think is necessary. Remember, our principle goal in supporting class visits is simply to open windows on each other's practice, not to evaluate each other in any formal way. This should be fun and eye-opening, not a chore.

Based on:

Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at the University of Minnesota website. http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/resources/peer/index.html

Linse, Angela R. (2006). “Faculty Peer Evaluation of Teaching,” Peer-to-Peer Protocols: Faculty Peer Evaluation of Teaching, Winter Teaching & Learning Conference, Temple University, January 12, 2006.

Last Updated: 4/2/13