Exploring approaches to teacher observation on an intensive EAP pre-sessional course

Carole MacDiarmid


This paper reports on a small-scale investigation into perceptions of teacher observations on an intensive EAP pre-sessional. The value of observations along with the types of observation offered in this context are outlined. The formats include traditional class observations, peer-observations, observations of tutorials and recorded lessons, with each observation part of an observation cycle, and feedback informed by the TEAP competency framework (BALEAP, 2008). As observations bring with them a number of challenges, this project aimed to explore participant views of the observations and cycle in order to inform developments in our approach. The research methodology employing photo elicitation (Margolis & Pauwels, 2011) in focus groups of observers and observees is presented. Employing thematic analysis (Clarke & Braun, 2011), emerging themes from analysed transcripts included emotion and time pressures, but also the importance of communication and setting clear expectations to ensure observations are developmental. Practical implications and adaptions are discussed.

BALEAP. (2008). Competency Framework for Teachers of English for Academic Purposes. https://www.baleap.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/teap-competency-framework.pdf

Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2013). Teaching thematic analysis. Psychologist, 26(2), 120–123.

Margolis, E., & Pauwels, L. (2011). The SAGE handbook of visual research methods. London; Los Angeles, CA: SAGE