Centre for Teaching and Learning
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Reflection

​ERT: ​​Teaching, Learning and Assessment support for academics d​uring COVID-19

The onset of COVID-19 has necessitated us to replace our face-to-face interaction with students with preparing and instituting “Emergency Remote Teaching, Learning and Assessment” (ERT).  The principles of good T&L&A in a F2F environment also apply to the online space - it is only the mode of delivery that is different.  The point of departure for this process of adaptation is to rethink the outcomes, assessment and learning opportunities of your module for the online environment. It is important to design for the active involvement of students and to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning.  The DeLTA process, adapted for the ERT environment, is available here.

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The reflection phase of the DeLTA process provides the opportunity to reflect about the module to see whether it achieved what it set out to achieve. This reflection can be done by gathering data and/or getting feedback from peer observations, student feedback, professional bodies, employers and the community.

This information can then be used as part of the situational analysis for the next round.

As lecturer you can also reflect on your teaching performance. The same resources as above can render evidence which can then be used when putting together a teaching portfolio.

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Student feedback

Student Feedback is an important central process aimed at supporting and promoting teaching at Stellenbosch University. The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is responsible for the administration of the Student Feedback system, e.g. the maintenance of student feedback questionnaires, the processing and storage of all feedback data, as well as compiling and distributing student feedback reports to all faculties.

Stellenbosch University encourages faculties and/or departments to keep the following points of departure regarding the use of Student Feedback, in mind:

  • The use of Student Feedback should firstly aim to empower individual lecturers to improve their own teaching. Only thereafter should feedback be used for any other purpose, and then with great circumspection.
  • The reliability of student feedback results could be affected by various factors (size of the class group, percentage class attendance, the time of obtaining feedback, etc.) These and other factors that could influence the   results should be taken into account when interpreting the results.

Click here to visit their webpage: Student Feedback

Student Feedback can empower individual lecturers to improve their teaching but should be used as part of a 360-degree reflection process on teaching.  This process can also include self-evaluation, peer evaluation (see below), etc.

In the article (see below): An investigation into excellent tertiary teaching:  Emphasising reflection practice (Kane, Sandretto & Heath 2004), Day (1999) wrote “it is generally agreed that reflection in, on and about practice is essential to building, maintaining and further developing the capacities of teachers to think and act professionally over the span of their careers" (p. 222).
KANE An investigation into excellent tertiary teaching Emphasising.pdf

In order to assist lecturers in their reflection on their teaching, the following form is available to help lecturers think about their teaching practice:
Dosenteterugvoervorm Lecturer feedback form.doc
 

 

Peer Observation & Reflection

Reflecting on teaching practice is a collaborative, non-judgemental process where colleagues observe, give feedback and reflect on teaching, with the aim of improving their practice. The process of reflecting on teaching practice has become increasingly common in higher education institutions worldwide (Bell and Cooper, 2013; Keane, 2015; Kane, Sandretto & Heath, 2004) and Stellenbosch University is no exception. The purpose of reflecting on teaching practice may be thought of as improving the quality of teaching with the aim of improving student learning (Byrne et al, 2010) but according to Bell (2001) it also encourages shared critical reflection. 

While the primary aim of reflecting on teaching practice is professional development (Orabah, 2009), Hammersley-Fletcher & Orsmond (2004:489) list the following additional aims:

  • to improve and develop an understanding of personal approaches to curriculum delivery;
  • to enhance and extend teaching techniques and styles of presentation through collaboration;
  • to engage in and refine interpersonal skills through the exchange of insights relating to the review of a specific teaching performance;
  • to expand personal skills of evaluation and self-appraisal;
  • to develop and refine curriculum planning skills in collaboration with a colleague;
  • to identify areas of subject understanding and teaching activity which have a particular merit or are in need of further development.

Literature speaks to a vast number of benefits from reflecting on teaching practice. Martin & Double (2006:161) state that teaching skills can be refined as the person observed benefits from feedback which is focused and context-specific; the observer refines an ability to define and identify attributes that promote quality teaching; interpersonal skills are developed; as well as the ability to benefit from a collegiate approach to professional practice. Hendry & Oliver (2012) refer to benefits such as learning new strategies; enhancing confidence; and receiving useful feedback, while Bell (2001) adds that it could also lead to transformation of both perspective and practice. Similarly, Orabah (2009) refers to benefits such as teachers learning from and supporting each other; peer observation discussions that help teachers to reflect on their teaching and explore the implicit reasons and beliefs that underlie behaviours in classrooms; observation that helps teachers to develop their ability to notice what happens in classrooms and to explain why things happen; as well as exposure to different styles of teaching which enrich their experiences.

There are however challenges as well. Orabah (2009) lists some of the challenges related to peer observation as: anxiety; time constraints; the presence of the observer in the classroom which may have an effect on the practice of the observed teacher; and the difficulty in giving and receiving feedback in the appropriate ways. The York St John University's A Guide to Peer Observation of Learning and Teaching (2011:5) offers some useful guiding principles for reflecting on teaching practice:

  • Professional autonomy (control of the process belongs to the staff member being observed)
  • Self-evaluative and reflective (to stimulate a scholarly approach to teaching)
  • Developmental (a process designed to support peer learning amongst colleagues)
  • Collaborative (requires colleagues to work together on the basis of mutual trust and support)
  • Constructive (it should improve professional practice and enhance student learning)
  • Dialogic (talking about teaching promotes reflection on one's practice)
  • Scholarly (uses available pedagogic evidence)
  • Consistent with good professional practice (it reflects how professionals learn)
  • Manageable in terms of time (factored into the workload planning)

 

The focus of the observation, feedback and reflection process can be on a variety of teaching, learning or assessment practices and the York St John University's A Guide to Peer Observation of Learning and Teaching (2011:7) offers some examples:

  • Observing an innovative teaching strategy you are trying out in the classroom;
  • Reflecting on and discussing your assessment strategies for a module or programme (including reviewing how you have constructively aligned assessment to content and learning outcomes; how well your formative assessment processes worked; how your students have engaged with feedback processes; the use and effectiveness of innovative assessment or feedback methods);
  • Resolving a problem (which might include how best to deliver a topic online with the most appropriate tools or how to manage a particular assessment challenge);
  • Reviewing the content and aims of a SUNLearn module (this may include discussing the rationale for the design and exploring the underpinning e-pedagogy, considering how students are/not engaging with the module online, reviewing how successful online discussions have been, or how the use of video/audio and other technology enhanced teaching tools are incorporated);
  • Reflecting on plans for a new programme of study (such as ideas for a learning, teaching and assessment strategy, how this links to the university's teaching and learning strategy and the assessment policy, and how this might translate into your module activities).

From the above list you will see that in Reflecting on teaching practice we are using the word 'teaching' in a broad sense, to encompass a range of activities (from the design of curricula and the planning of assessment strategies, to activities that happen in a classroom, a tutorial or a laboratory).

Although this article focusses on student learning, it includes a tool that might be of value when reflecting on teaching:
Development of a Questionnaire to Measure the Level of Reflective Thinking


Moderation & external examination and the external evaluation of a programme

Moderation and external examination as well as the external evaluation of programmes falls under the responsibility area of the Division of Institutional Research & Planning​.  Please contact them for information, click here.