After having a student observer in his classroom Seth Peabody gave this feedback, “It was tremendously helpful for me to hear from a student observer regarding how students responded to my input during class, and also to hear honest feedback (including simply the raw data) about how much each individual student contributed during all-class discussions. I learned that I was not being as inclusive as I thought, and based on that input, I was able to make small adjustments that led to increased student participation and engagement.
“I also found it tremendously beneficial to hear about what happened in breakout rooms when I was not present. I gained useful input on what, from the students’ perspective, leads to challenging and engaging small-group tasks. I also learned about issues of efficiency and clarity in small-group discussions that often go unseen, since I am not normally present in the breakout room as the activity is first getting started.
“While I can gain some of the same information through course evaluations, the student observer provided data points that I had not thought to ask about. Further, in speaking to the students after class, the student observer was able to gather some input that goes beyond what I am able to learn from mid-term and end-of-course surveys.
“Finally, it was very helpful for me to hear the student observer’s feedback in a conversation after the class, since they were able to simply tell me what they had observed (without judgment) and also tell me what was going well in the class, so that the points of criticism were firmly embedded into a larger conversation about effective teaching. The whole conversation felt simultaneously very constructive, honest and critical, yet also remarkably positive in tone. I strongly recommend the program to other faculty looking to improve their teaching.”