20 Jan 1999
Learning Matters at Lingnan are short papers on teaching and learning that aim to provide a forum fo exchange of ideas about instructional matters. You are most welcomed to contribute to the forum by w Learning Matters at Lingnan, and/or responding to ideas that you either agree or disagree. Please se your ideas and contributions to the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), Lingnan College.
Using Micro-teaching for Peer Review of Teaching
University teachers these days have to make themselves accountable in their teaching. Students are certainly a good source of feedback, for after all it is students that have first-hand experience of their teachers’ teaching. However, even ignoring the doubt whether all students are able to exercise impartial and objective judgement on their teachers’ performance, there are plainly aspects of teaching on which students are not in a position to pass professional judgement. Indeed, “student feedback questionnaires” tend to be rather limited in scope. Come to think of it, there are actually a number of sources in addition to student feedback, on which we as university teachers can depend for evaluating our teaching. First of all, we ourselves are sometimes the most reliable source of feedback --- a sort of “gut feeling” which we must be having right after teaching a class, a vague but genuine feeling about how well or how badly we have done! If only that feeling could be “externalised” and categorised or even quantified, how much more useful would that be for appraising our own performance. Another rich source of feedback is of course our colleagues, our peers. It is precisely in the context of evaluating our teaching performance that colleagues are able to play a significant role. Peer review/observation of teaching, if handled with care and carried out systematically, is capable of yielding extremely fruitful results, because our peers can be absolutely impartial, objective and are...