Classroom Observations

Classroom Observations

Many faculty members have expressed interest in an informal mentoring network around teaching and learning at Dartmouth. To address this need, DCAL offers a process and framework of support for visiting colleagues' classes. These class visits are not for evaluation purposes, but for sharing and learning from one another while building community around teaching. DCAL's aim is to help open windows into our courses and classrooms by making visiting simple and inspiring.

A class visit can be motivated either by an instructor's desire for observation and feedback on their teaching or a visitor's interest in observing a particular technique, type or level of class, or individual instructor.

We want this process to be simple, unencumbered by elaborate evaluation schemes and rubrics, but we have supplied some basic recommendations and documents below that might help you make the most of your visit.

Get started with the recommendations below, or let us know by e-mail that you're interested in visiting or hosting a visitor, and we'll help to match you up.


To ensure that classroom visits are useful and enjoyable for both observers and instructors, we recommend the following.

Before the Classroom Visit

  • Brief the observer on the format of class meetings and student-instructor interactions  (e.g. online, in-person, synchronous, asynchronous).
  • Meet or exchange email before the visit takes place to discuss a focus for the observation (e.g., focus on lecturing style, use of small groups in class).
  • Choose an appropriate visitation day that is manageable for the instructor, provides opportunity for the observer to witness relevant techniques, and does not disrupt the established class community. 
  • Give the observer access to the course Canvas site or syllabus and other supporting material that might be useful prior to the visit.
  • In cases where an instructor has posted recordings of previous class meetings, the observer may listen to/watch the recording of the class meeting just prior to the visit.
  • Discuss any instructor preferences or requests of the observer for the classroom visit (e.g. where to sit, if in a physical classroom, whether to interact with students or instructor during the session).

Classroom Visit

  • Arrive early to class.
  • Briefly introduce and explain the presence of the observer to students.
  • Make note of observations, new ideas, and teaching practices.

After the Classroom Visit

  • Meet within a week or so after the classroom visit to discuss and debrief the experience from both the instructor's and observer's points of view.

Forms & Resources

The following forms may or may not be useful to you. They tend to focus more on evaluation than we think is necessary to achieve our aim of simply opening windows onto each other's teaching practice. This should be fun and eye-opening, and not a chore.


Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), University of Minnesota.

Faculy Peer Observation and Feedback, Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research, Northeastern University

Faculty Peer Review of Online Teaching, Penn State University.

Linse, Angela R. (2006). "Faculty Peer Evaluation of Teaching," Peer-to-Peer Protocols: Faculty Peer Evaluation of Teaching, Winter Teaching & Learning Conference, Temple University, January 12, 2006.