Factors affecting peer observation of teaching in School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Strathmore University
This study focused on Peer Observation of Teaching (POT) as a collaborative activity among lecturers that enhances self reflection. Peer observation involves colleagues observing each other's classroom teaching with the aim of sharing and developing good practice. In Strathmore University the Academic Development Unit (ADU), now known as Learning and Teaching Services (LTS), has been encouraging the teaching staff to work more collaboratively within departments with a view to improve their teaching. It is in this regard that POT was proposed as a means to achieve this objective. In the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS), the Teaching and Learning committee has incorporated POT in its teaching strategy for the last four years. This was intended to foster a culture of lecturers evaluating their own teaching in order to improve it. It has however been noted that the practice of POT is yet to get fully embedded within the school but no studies had been done to evaluate the impact of POT in the school. The study therefore conducted an in-depth analysis of SHSS using a qualitative and quantitative approach. Data collection tools included questionnaires, interviews and observations of feedback meetings. Participants involved were both full time lecturers and part time lecturers. The study sought to explain the process of POT as it has been implemented in SHSS. Bearing in mind that POT can be used for summative or formative purposes, this study tried to find out how lecturers were using POT to improve their teaching. The study also investigated the challenges encountered in its implementation with a view to proposing suggestions to improve the process. Findings revealed that the implementation process needed to be improved as there were no clear guidelines in regard to frequency, selection of observers, the three stages ofPOT and model to be followed. However the study found out that most lecturers valued POT and were using it as a tool to reflect critically on their teaching. It was also clear that the lecturers preferred to be given freedom in some aspects of the process. They also preferred that it be used for self development (or formative) purposes and not for appraisal (or summative) purposes. The study found out that the major challenges encountered in POT implementation were constraint of time, lack of training and poor induction. In order to improve the process of POT and strengthen its effectiveness the study recommends that the school involves the lecturers in establishing a clear procedure on the implementation process. The collaborative model should be used and POT should not be made mandatory. Trainings and seminars should be organized for all the participants of POT.