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Choosing Criteria

One of the most useful products of teaching observation is that it prompts those involved, whether at departmental or individual level to consider again what good teaching might be, especially in the particular context.

When evaluative judgements are being made, it is best to be clear about what one is judging, and about what constitutes proficiency. Criteria should be used to observe teaching so that both the observer and the person observed are aware of what is being looked for and why.

There is a range of models available, including: the HEFCE pro forma used by Teaching Quality Assessors (Appendix 1 word(Word Document)| pdf(PDF Document)); and the definition of good practice in teaching and in learning, issued by Higher Education Quality Council as part of their Guidelines on Quality Assurance ( Appendix 2). Many institutions, faculties and departments have adopted their own definition. Of course, there are no entirely objective criteria, but these can be a helpful starting point.

A number of other checklists may be found in the staff development resource section in the student reserve collection in the library, or obtained from the Academic Staff Development Office. Some are relatively complex, and are therefore difficult to use, while others are simple to use but result in loss of detail. Some will allow the user to concentrate on a specific aspect of the situation, such as questioning technique or leadership skills.