One requirement of the Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Level I) is a classroom observation of the GSI by a faculty member. This activity is intended to support ongoing assessment and improvement of one’s own teaching in dialogue with a faculty mentor. Any faculty member the GSI chooses may conduct the classroom observation. For example, it could be the faculty member teaching the course in which the GSI is teaching, the 300-level course instructor, the GSI’s dissertation advisor, or any other faculty member who knows the discipline well enough to be able to comment constructively on what he or she sees during the visit.

To qualify for the certificate program, here are the steps the GSI and the faculty member should take in conducting the observation.

  1. The faculty member and GSI meet a day or two before the class to walk through the GSI’s lesson plan and review what the GSI wants the students to take away from the class session and how the planned activities will enable students to reach those goals. The GSI should also let the faculty member know if there are any specific areas on which the GSI would like feedback. Please follow the Faculty Observation Checklist for this meeting.
  2. Faculty member visits class and takes notes.
  3. GSI and faculty member meet within a week of the class observation and compare notes about how the class went, whether the goals the GSI had set out were met, what went well, and what could be done differently the next time. At the end of the meeting, the GSI and faculty member should identify two or three areas of teaching the GSI should work on. Together, the faculty member and GSI brainstorm steps the GSI could take to work on those areas.
  4. The GSI is responsible for the write-up of the results of the classroom observation, not the faculty member. The GSI’s write-up should summarize both the pre- and post-observation discussions and should include the lesson plan and goals for the class session, what went well, areas identified as needing improvement, and a description of steps the GSI will take to work on those areas.  The write-up will be submitted as a required part of the GSI’s teaching portfolio for the Level I certificate.
  5. The GSI must complete the Classroom Observation Form within 30 days of the classroom visit. The GSI Teaching & Resource Center will send a message to the faculty member identified on the form to confirm that the observation took place using the guidelines above.