Teaching observations at a distance – the effectiveness of the process and the impact on practice
Dr Ayona Silva-Fletcher, Course Director & Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Education, Royal Veterinary College
Kirsty Magnier, Distance learning developer, Royal Veterinary College
Kim Whittlestone, Senior Lecturer in Independent Learning, Deputy Director Professional Studies & Learning Support Officer, Royal Veterinary College
Teaching observation was used as a compulsory assessment component in a postgraduate certificate designed for veterinary and para-veterinary educators in higher and further education in the UK. The programme was delivered in two modes, either as face-to-face (F2F) or distance learning (DL). The current study evaluated and compared the teaching observations either in F2F or DL mode.
The teaching observation process consisted of the submission of written documents and reflections before the teaching session, observation of teaching session either in classroom (F2F participants) or via video recording (DL participants), feedback on observation and a final critical reflective analysis by the participants. Twenty-eight participants took part, of whom 8 were in a DL context, and 5 tutors took part in the study. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to assess the effectiveness and perceptions of the process between the two types of teaching observations. Thematic code analysis was used to evaluate interview data.
Results showed that the two modes are not equal, but are comparable in evaluating teaching practice and offering professional development to participant teachers. Both modes had advantages and disadvantages, but the DL model emerged as being superior in giving more constructive feedback through the use of watching the video together. There was no difference in the strength of the opinion between F2F and DL participants with regard to the value of teaching observation as a developmental tool, both found the teaching observation process to be the most useful experience of the postgraduate certificate course.