A new app is helping teachers reflect on their professional practice.
There is an increasing focus on learner-centred practice in the classroom, to improve students' engagement and learning. Consequently the teacher is becoming more of a facilitator than an instructor. Effective classroom facilitation is about teachers taking a step back and encouraging students to participate more actively, while guiding them in the right direction. Peer observation of a teacher's practice can provide useful feedback for a teacher.
Observation tools were originally paper-based, but digital tools are now also being developed to reduce the burden on observers and provide more accurate feedback to teachers. At Dr Barry Law's suggestion Don Samarasinghe and Vera Nistor designed a digitised version of the paper-based observation tool used at our Auckland International Campus. A web-based observation tool and subsequently a mobile app have been developed by our Information Technology students as their research project under Hymie Abd-Latif's supervision.
Teacher-centred and learner-centred activity codes are colour-coded and a legend provides guidance for the observer using it. The app automatically generates and emails a report at the conclusion of the observation. The app is used in conjunction with an introduction to learner-centred practice and a post-observation conversation to support teachers to identify how they might become more learner-centred in their professional practice. The app has been evaluated by Don and Vera who recommended minor improvement to the navigation and development of a user guide. The app can be adapted to measure other aspects of teaching practice.