Volume 13 Issue 1 (2024)

Peer Observation of Teaching in Higher Education: Systematic Review of Observation Tools

pp. 84-101  |  Published Online: February 2024  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2024.131.6

Fernando Manuel Otero Saborido, José Antonio Domínguez-Montes, José Manuel Cenizo Benjumea, Gustavo González-Calvo


Background/purpose. This study presents a systematic review of teaching observation instruments in the current literature based on PRISMA standards.

Materials/methods. Three researchers performed searches on two databases, SCOPUS and Web of Science, focusing on two criteria: a) peer observation of teaching and b) higher education, with search terms included in the “Title/Keyword” fields. The AND command was used to join certain words, including peer observation and teaching, whilst the OR command was used to separate search terms within each criterion. Five exclusion criteria were defined and applied following the initial searches. The quality of research conducted in the literature using observation tools was assessed using a validated instrument in social science research.

Results. The results revealed a total of 13 instruments that were analyzed in terms of four variables: country, validation, observation, and feedback. a) Country: More than half were designed by researchers from universities in the United States and Australia. b) Validation: Only three studies were designed following some kind of validation procedure. c/d) Observation and feedback: The number of items ranged from very loosely structured, with only a few items, to more comprehensive research. The most repeated item (8 of 13 instruments) was about the objectives of the observation section. Four study instruments included only an observation section, with no specific feedback section. Of the remainder, some included all three aspects of “strengths,” “weaknesses,” and “comments” in the feedback section, while others included only a feedback section.

Conclusion. Excessive question numbers could make observation exercises overly complex, unless the items are distributed and observed across several sessions. An appropriate number of questions would correspond to the amount deemed by teachers themselves to be essential to observe the teaching process. Observation tools should include fields in which observers may add qualitative comments to deepen the understanding of the record and to improve the feedback quality.

Keywords: Instruments, peer partner, education tertiary, mentoring


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