Teacher perceptions on the impact of a recently implemented lesson observation structure
University of Birmingham
The study evaluates teachers’ perceptions of a standardised lesson observation format used to assess their classroom practice in a large comprehensive secondary school in the West Midlands, UK. The format was designed to allow consistent, criterion-referenced lesson observation practice which allowed specific, diagnostic feedback together with quantitative data to enable longitudinal and cross-sectional strategic analysis which can be used by middle and senior leaders to inform professional development strategy. A range of theoretical frameworks relating to school improvement and leadership from Sackney (1986), Stoll and Fink (1992), Dalin (2004) and Fullan (2001) are used to contextualise the approach used in the implementation of the lesson observation format and its associated professional development strategy.
An online questionnaire featuring Likert-type attitudinal scales to express agreement/disagreement with evaluative statements was used to obtain responses from teaching staff after the format had been in place for six months as part of the school’s internal quality assurance and performance management processes. The questionnaire returned 59 respondents from 106 staff and incorporated the perspectives of middle and senior leaders, which were evaluated comparatively. Kirkpatrick’s Model of Evaluation (1994) is used as a framework to assess the extent to which respondents perceived the observation format in terms of its ability to facilitate effective observation feedback and to inform professional development objectives at individual, faculty and whole-school level. The data shows significantly positive attitudes (81-90% agreement) amongst all respondents with regard to the format’s operational effectiveness in terms of observation practice, feedback and the identification of professional development priorities. Greater positivity (90-95% agreement) was shown for the format’s perceived ability to potentially improve the quality of teachers’ professional practice as part of a long-term professional development strategy and to consequently improve educational outcomes for students. The format’s strategic importance was slightly less well-perceived amongst the whole staff (73-76%), however, it was in this area that the greatest disparity existed between class teachers (66-68% agreement) and the school’s leaders who were significantly more positive (86-100% agreement). The least positive perspectives related to the respondents experience of the discussions regarding the observation format and its summary data within faculty teams (28% agreement) suggesting that there was more work to be done to ensure that the format was fully embedded in the performance management cycle. Comparative analysis between staff groups indicated that middle and senior leaders’ perspectives (88% agreement) were slightly more positive that those of classroom teachers (72% agreement).
Keywords: Teaching and Learning; Professional Development; Performance Management;
Teacher Voice; Lesson Observation; School Leadership; School Improvement; Evaluation