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Amanda Howard PhD British University in Dubai

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1 Amanda Howard PhD British University in Dubai
Observation and feedback: are they really necessary for teacher appraisal? Amanda Howard PhD British University in Dubai Rationale behind research: background, focus

2 The assumptions: Teacher appraisal can take a variety of forms, but research suggests that the most frequently used is classroom observation. Observation serves no purpose without some form of feedback. Observation occurs before feedback. Feedback can be written or oral, and may be solely the province of the parent organisation, or shared with the teacher being appraised.

3 Participant experiences:
Form two groups, the observers and the observed. Summarise your own positive and negative experiences of observation and feedback within the context of teacher appraisal.

4 Definitions: Observation Collins English Dictionary:
Action or habit of observing; remark Bailey, 2001:1 The purposeful examination of teaching and/or learning events through the systematic processes of data collection and analysis Feedback n. Information received in response to something done

5 Summary of Beare’s rationales for teacher assessment (1989:15)
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Objective Teacher improvement Teacher promotion School improvement Accountability Research or professional feedback Specific purpose To improve teaching performance To rank and compare teachers To improve team skills Efficient and effective use of resources To improve student performance and learning Audience The teacher The employer The team or manager The patron or owner of the enterprise The profession The assessor A mentor or professional coach An external assessor An agent of the team An ‘auditor’ A professionally expert analyst Nature of assess-ment Advice to the assessed Formal grading: advice to employer A report to the team A productivity audit, including efficiency measures A research report, including targeted data and their analysis

6 Labov, and the Observer’s Paradox:
the aim of linguistic research in the community must be to find out how people talk when they are not being systematically observed; yet we can only obtain this data by systematic observation (1972:209).

7 To consider: What potential impact does this have on teacher appraisal?

8 Bennet, 1992:39 ‘Classroom observation for some teachers will undoubtedly be a considerable threat. ….if….the teacher perceives that the purpose of the other’s presence is to judge their effectiveness and provide recommendations for future improvement, this will make an established head of department with 35 years experience much more nervous than a newly qualified teacher who has just spent3 years training with regular visitors to the classroom’ ‘If the judgement is unsuccessful, how much credibility will be lost amongst the team?’

9 Scriven (1981) Using classroom visits by colleagues (or administrators or “experts”) to evaluate teaching is not just incorrect, it’s a disgrace. First, the visit itself alters the teaching, so that the visitor is not looking at a representative sample. This defect is exacerbated by preannouncing the visit. Second, the number of visits is too small to be an accurate sample from which to generalize, even if it were a random sample. Third, the visitors are typically not devoid of independent personal prejudices in favour of or against the teacher ... Fourth, nothing that could be observed in the classroom ... can be used as a basis for an inference to any conclusion about the merit of the teaching (1981:251)

10 Analysis of research data
In the research, transcripts of observed (model) and non-observed (pedagogic) lessons taught by participant teachers were analysed according to the following features, in order to identify commonalities and differences between the two:

11 External features Lesson planning Classroom organisation
Interaction patterns Structure and sequencing: beginning, middle and end

12 Internal features: Self-Evaluation of Teacher Talk (SETT: Walsh, 2006)
Modes which become evident when a transcript of a lesson is analysed: Managerial Mode Materials Mode (IRF pattern predominates) Skills and Systems Mode Classroom Context Mode

13 What the observer sees:
What the observer expects to see What the teacher wants them to see What the learners want them to see

14 What can be said about teacher observation:
It is axiomatic Model lessons are usually a demonstration of a teacher’s best practice The low order features have usually been carefully planned in advance The teacher may teach this lesson (or a variation thereof) every time they are observed It is a lesson that has been developed with that particular supervisor in mind (Howard, 2008) The observer is only able to record judgements relating to what s/he actually sees It is ‘going through the motions’ (Scrivener, IATEFL Conference, 2012)

15 What can be said about post-observation feedback:
It relates to the lesson the observer has just seen, and links to her/his preferred teaching methodologies It usually contains positive and negative elements Teachers tend to ignore positive feedback and focus on the ‘but’... Feedback is only constructive if it relates directly to teacher professional development (PD)

16 Implications: Bearing in mind the Observer's Paradox (Labov, 1972), can any classroom observation be said to be a real representation of a typical lesson in that context? And, having said this, how valid is the feedback? So, depending on context, observation and feedback may not be necessary for teacher appraisal. BUT what are the alternatives?

17 Some possibilities: Student evaluations
Teacher portfolios (covering PD) Student summaries Evaluation of the learners Peer evaluation Self-evaluation 3 minute walk-throughs…

18 References Bailey, K.M. (2001) Observation. In: Carter, R. and Nunan, D. eds. The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: Beare, H. (1989) The Australian Policy Context. In: Lokan, J. and McKenzie, P. eds.. Teacher Appraisal: Issues and Approaches. Victoria, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research: v-viii Bennet, H. (1992) Teacher appraisal; survival and beyond. Harlow: Longman Howard, A. (2008) Teachers being observed: coming to terms with classroom appraisal. In: Garton, S and Richards, K. eds. Professional Encounters in TESOL. London: Palgrave: Labov, W. (1974) Sociolinguistic Patterns. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press Scriven, M Summative Teacher Evaluation. In: Millman, J. ed. Handbook of Teaching Evaluation. London: Sage: Walsh, S. (2006) Investigating Classroom Discourse. London: Routledge Wang, W. and Day, C. (2002) Issues and Concerns about Classroom Observation: Teachers’ Perspectives. Paper presented at TESOL, Conference in St Louis, USA, 27th March 2001 Wragg, E.C. (1987) Teacher appraisal: a practical guide. London: Macmillan

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