Peer Observation

Peer Observation is the process of observing others in their teaching, with the overall aim of improving teaching practice. Engaging in Peer Observation is an excellent way to gain insight into your teaching practice and is well suited for those who are new to teaching.

Research shows that Peer Observation brings many benefits to both the individual teaching and the observer (Donnelly, 2007; Hendry & Oliver, 2012; Tenenberg, 2016). The overall aims of Peer Observation are to:

  • Enhance teaching practice through critical reflection,
  • Enhance quality of student learning, and
  • Identify areas of focus for both the person observing and the person teaching.

All types of teaching can be observed and through any modality. The most important aspect of Peer Observation is that there is teaching taking place.

What are the benefits of a Peer Observation?

Peer Observation is an effective means of professional development. For the observee it offers an opportunity to critically reflect on the feedback received and develop confidence in their practice (Shortland, 2004). Whereas the observer becomes inspired to try new strategies and increase self-efficacy (Hendry & Oliver, 2012).

Observing colleagues teaching can:

  • trigger reflections on our own practice,
  • discuss our experiences,
  • learn about new approaches,
  • share good practice, and
  • help us to plan for meaningful action.

As a means of development, Peer Observation contributes to a culture of improving teaching and learning (Bell & Mladenovic, 2008). It’s also a low-cost approach to development and a recognised process for many professional accreditation schemes, such as AdvanceHE.

Related Documents

This guide is focused on the dynamics of the classroom, not on the content of the course.

If you would like support or assistance with Peer Observations or any other aspects of your teaching and learning practice, please contact Learning Innovation.


Bell, A. & Mladenovic, R., 2008. The benefits of peer observation of teaching for tutor development. Higher Education, Volume 55, pp. 735-752.

Donnelly, R., 2007. Perceived Impact of Peer Observation of Teaching in Higher Education. International Journal of teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 19(2), pp. 117-129.

Hendry, G. & Oliver, G., 2012. Seeing is Believing: The Benefits of Peet Observation. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 9(1).

Shortland, S., 2004. Peer Observation: a tool for staff development or compliance?. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28(2), pp. 219-228.

Tenenberg, J., 2016. Learning through observing peers in practice. Studies in Higher Education, 41(4), pp. 756-773.