Observations for First-Year Brittain Fellows by WCP Assistant Directors

Observations for First-Year Brittain Fellows by WCP Assistant Directors


Throughout academia, evaluative observations of teaching act as a standard mode of providing guidance and critical feedback for teachers to help teachers improve their pedagogical practices. For the Brittain Fellowship, the Assistant Directors of the Writing and Communication Program observe first-year Brittain Fellows in the Spring semester. In their first Fall semester, Brittain Fellows observe each other’s teaching in informal teaching observation. Similarly, the required, evaluative teaching observation should reflect your typical classroom atmosphere rather than a demonstrative, overplanned teaching occasion. This class provides a chance for you to showcase a variety of activities that invite student engagement as opposed to a lecture-style class. As this course is for the Writing and Communication Program, try to focus on WCP values and goals including multimodality, rhetoric, and communication.



Assistant directors’ observations will be recorded in the following form. This form can be helpful for future references (letters of recommendation, further feedback on pedagogical practices, etc.) by WCP leadership. ​​The specific purpose of the WCP observation is primarily formal and evaluative. “Evaluative” describes the teaching observation itself (in contrast to the “narrative ” peer-observations completed in Fall). This evaluative teaching observation will not go towards your yearly evaluation unless you wish to include it in the Teaching Portfolio that’s required for yearly review. In the future, you may find observations of teaching useful for professional advancement, like tenure and promotion cases. Here, in the Brittain Fellowship, this evaluative teaching observation works towards a conversation with the Assistant Directors of the Writing and Communication Program based on their observations. These observations will be documented  by the WCP leadership. On an individual level, the observations might inform their letters of recommendations for career opportunities while on a programmatic level, the observations help to assess the overall classroom performance of instructors in the program. 


In summary, the purposes of the second-semester evaluative observation include:

  1. Faculty and career development: Observation provides formative, constructive feedback to support the observed instructor growth as a teacher.
  2. Evidence of teaching effectiveness: Observation provides formal feedback from WCP Assistant Directors that the instructor can use as evidence of teaching effectiveness for annual reviews and job materials such as teaching portfolios.
  3. Recommendation letters/references: Observation provides formal feedback that WCP leadership can use in writing recommendation letters.

Copies of the completed observation forms will be given to the observed instructor and included in the instructor’s personnel file. The form will be used in annual review evaluations if the instructor includes it as part of the teaching portfolio required for the review. 


The process has three parts:

  1. Encouraged pre-observation meeting (~10-15m)
  2. In-class observation (50-75m, depending on length of class session)
  3. Completed Observation Form (that leads to cohesive feedback paragraph and/or post-observation discussion)
  4. Post-observation discussion (based on completed form) (~20-30m)


The Pre-Observation Requirement 

For the encouraged 15-minute Pre-Observation Meeting, come prepared to discuss or send us the answers via email.


For the Pre-Observation please provide the course description in the syllabus statement of learning outcomes or come prepared to discuss your class. (If you opt out of the pre-observation meeting, please email this completed section of the form to your observer 48 hours prior to the observation.)


Purpose of class [what the learning goals of this particular class are]: 


Scaffolding/Meta-referencing of primary concepts and processes in the course [how does this class/lesson relate to previous/future classes and course goals]:


The Observation

Engagement [how the course is set up for student response; how the instructor responds to students or encourages their engagement; includes any group interaction and non-verbal communication]: 


Instructor authority, credibility, expertise of topic [expansion and explanation of content]:


Use of Pedagogical Strategies [discussion of content; group interaction/ activity facilitation; use of technology]: 


Focus on Learning Outcomes [in relation to pre-observation, WCP values and goals including multimodality, rhetoric, and communication]:


Additional Notes, Comments, and Suggestions:


The Post-Observation Meeting

The instructor will receive the completed form prior to the required Post-Observation Meeting  (~20-30 mins). The instructor can ask any questions and include suggestions for changes that they might have in the Post-Observation Meeting.