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Using Peer Teaching Observations to Give Feedback to Graduate Teaching Instructors

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Training and Mentoring of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1436.1 - 25.1436.19



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Paper Authors


Mary Lynn Brannon Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Mary Lynn Brannon is an Instructional Support Specialist and instructor of the Graduate Teaching Assistants Seminar at the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education, College of Engineering, Penn State University. She has a master's of arts degree in education and human development specializing in educational technology leadership. Her work focuses on projects that measure and assess student perceptions of learning related to their experiences with engineering course innovations. She has worked extensively in the design of assessment tools for course methods and activities. She is a faculty development consultant with previous experience in instructional design.

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Using Peer Teaching Observations to Give Feedback to Graduate Teaching InstructorsAbstractOne of the most effective ways that students can learn is collaborating with a peer. This paperwill describe a peer learning project that is the focal point for a 7-session seminar that preparesgraduate teaching instructors (GTIs) to teach. “The “Seminar for Teaching Assistants inEngineering” is a required course for all graduate students who are independently teaching arecitation, lab session, or course in the College of Engineering at the author’s institution.Approximately 60 students enroll in the fall and spring semesters. During the first half of thesemester the students attend a two hour class per week. Various topics, tied to three themes,“Knowing Your Students”, “Strategic Course Design” and “Teaching Practice”, are addressedduring these sessions. The remainder of the semester is devoted to teaching observations. Thestudents are required to be observed while teaching twice, once with the course instructor andonce with a peer GTI who is enrolled in the course. Initially the course consisted of one observation where the instructor observed each student.Student’s comments and suggestions in course evaluations indicated that they would like to beobserved more often to have feedback on their teaching as they progressed over the course of asemester. Because it was not practical for the instructor to observe students more than one timea peer observation project was implemented. A review of the literature supported thejustification for peer learning. The pilot peer observation project feedback was positive insupport of peer learning. The majority of the students stated that one of the most useful parts ofthe course was the peer observation project. Students not only learned to improve their teachingfrom the advice of a peer; participating in the assignment resulted in self-reflection of their ownteaching skills. The students learned that observing a peer teacher made them aware ofteaching strategies and methods that work or do not work and why; and how to constructivelygive and receive feedback.GTIs are coached in both giving and receiving feedback from a peer, which includes discussionson the roles of the observer and the one being observed. Students are provided with a rubric forthis project with the deliverable being a paper that describes the experience. Using the rubric as aguide the paper requires a detailed description of each part of the assignment the pre-observation meeting, the observation, the post-observation meeting and a formal letter providingconstructive feedback to the observed teacher on his/her performance. Assessment data wascollected in the form of a pre and post perceptions of learning survey. Students’ comments onhow the peer learning project helped them to understand and recognize themselves as teachersand build self-efficacy will be shared in the final paper, along with assessment results, coursematerials, the assignment rubric, and survey instruments. Challenges experienced with theproject will also be discussed. Individuals who are involved with teaching GITs or using peerlearning in their courses will be interested in this paper.

Brannon, M. L. (2012, June), Using Peer Teaching Observations to Give Feedback to Graduate Teaching Instructors Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22193

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