Developing a National Framework for the Effective Use of Lesson Observation in Further Education - UCU Lesson Observation Project - November 2013

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This report explores one of the most widely debated and hotly contested initiatives to affect teaching staff in the Further Education (FE) sector in England recent times, that of lesson observation. The report captures the views of thousands of UCU
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  1 Developing a National Framework for the Effective Use of Lesson Observation in Further Education Project Report for UCU By Dr Matt O’Leary  November 2013  2 Contents   Pages   Figures and tables 3-4   Acknowledgements 5   1.   Executive summary 6-7 2.   Introduction 8-10 3.   Literature review of lesson observation: understanding its role in schools, colleges and universities in England 11-29 4.   Research methodology 30-36 5.   Findings and discussion 37-85 6.   Conclusions and recommendations 86-91 7.   References 92-97 8.   Appendices 98-104  3 Figures and Tables Pages Figures 1 Gender 37 2 Employment status 38 3 Employment capacity 38 4 Years of teaching experience 39 5 Observer, observee or both? 40 6 Contexts of lesson observation 40 7 Models of lesson observation 41 8 Use of unannounced lesson observations 42 9 Graded lesson observations 44 10 Ungraded lesson observations 48 11 Lesson observation feedback 51 12 Unannounced lesson observations 53 13 Key thematic categories of the project’s findings  56 14 Multi-dimensional model of teacher appraisal 69 Tables 1   Sample of qualitative comments on graded observations 47 2   Sample of qualitative comments on ungraded observations 50 3   Sample of qualitative comments on lesson observation feedback 52 4   Sample of qualitative comments on unannounced observations 54 5   Summary of key themes and issues 57 6   Sample of qualitative comments on observation as a punitive tool 58 7   Sample of qualitative comments on o  bservation as a ‘box - ticking’ exercise 60 8   Sample of qualitative comments on stress and anxiety associated with current observation regimes 62 9   Sample of qualitative comments on emphasis on judging and measuring rather than supporting improvements in teaching and learning 63 10   Sample of qualitative comments on preparation time for observations 65 11   Sample of qualitative comments on need for trust in the professionalism of teaching staff 66 12   Sample of qualitative comments on unfair reliance on observations to judge professional competence 68 13   Sample of qualitative comments on concerns about the validity and reliability of judgement 70 14   Sample of qualitative comments on inauthenticity of observations 72  4 15   Sample of qualitative comments on importance of subject specialist & fully trained observers 74 16   Sample of qualitative comments on professional credibility of observers 76 17   Sample of qualitative comments on importance of observation as a tool for professional learning 77 18   Sample of qualitative comments on value of peer observation 79  5 Acknowledgements I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to this research project. From those UCU members who completed the online questionnaire, to those who participated in the interviews and focus groups. Without the cooperation or generosity of these people in willingly giving up their time to take part, I would not have been able to gather such a rich collection of data, nor indeed compile a report that brings together such a comprehensive insight into the important topic of lesson observation in the FE sector. I would also like to thank Terry Pearson, an independent education consultant, for his contribution as a ‘critical friend’ in on -going discussions regarding the project, along with his comments on an earlier draft of the report, all of which have proven very valuable. Dr Matt O’Leary  November 2013
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