Teaching Observation Goals and Contexts

The Teaching Observation request form asks you to describe the context of your Teaching Observation and your goals. Your Teaching Observation goals might reflect some of the elements below.

Course Goals and Learning Environment

  • Are the goals for the session clearly established and do the activities enable the students to achieve the stated goals?
  • What is the classroom environment like (e.g., competitive, collaborative)? How engaged are the students in the activities?
  • Is information given out structured so that students can absorb it well? How effective are the activities in encouraging student learning?

Presentation Style

  • Does the speaker use verbal (varying speed & tone of voice, projecting, pausing) and non-verbal (maintaining eye contact, avoiding distracting mannerisms, projecting excitement and energy) techniques to help the audience understand what is being said?
  • How does the teacher engage the class’s attention and get the students interested in the topic?
  • How does the teacher get feedback from the students (e.g., by asking questions or collecting written feedback)?

Teaching Tools

  • How effectively does the teacher use media (e.g., blackboard, visual aids, slides, videos and animations, or artifacts) to reinforce content or help explain complex ideas?
  • Are visuals adequately introduced & explained?  Do they relate clearly to the class goals?

If you are uncertain of what you might like to do for your teaching observation, see the examples below. 




“This is a single lecture, which is part of a course co-taught by myself and other instructors.  The class is representative of others I teach during the semester.”

“I would like feedback on my engagement with the class,  their engagement with me, and student comprehension. I will try to use white-board and discussion examples more than PPT slides, and I would appreciate feedback on the efficacy of this approach and any feedback on my presentation skills in general.
I am also having difficulty getting the students to wrap their heads around X, Y & Z.  So I would like feedback on the efficacy of the teaching methods I use to make these concepts more palatable.”

Guest Lecture:

“This is a unique lecture opportunity, where I'll be introducing concept X related to my research.  This lecture will set the stage for the next two lectures, where other guests will discuss specific categories of X.  It is important for the students to understand A & B, as they will be tested on them during the next exam.”

“I want to learn how I can effectively and persuasively make my point and seem captivating to a large audience.  I would like feedback on how my tone, structure and topics presented helped draw the students' attention. I would also like feedback on my presentation skills: if I am talking clearly and at a good pace, if the presentation is fluid, if I seem nervous, etc. Finally, I would appreciate feedback regarding student interaction & participation. “

Recitation or Discussion Session:

“This is a weekly discussion section that complements bi-weekly lectures. It is primarily intended for class discussion, though we also practice reading and writing skills that will help students meet the course learning outcomes.”

“One concern I have is that by attempting to make the sessions informal and student-friendly, I am losing control of the discussion.  I would like feedback on how effectively I run a discussion: how I respond to and build off of student comments, how I encourage student-student interactions and how much each student is getting out of the discussion.  I would also like feedback on my choice of class activities and my interaction with the students.”

Problem Solving Session:

This is a TA recitation and problem solving session that complements the course lectures.  I have section each week with the same students.

Students are assigned to teams of three students and will solve team problems collectively. The session begins with my comments on last week's session and a brief introduction to this week's topic.  Then, students work together on new problems. “

“I would appreciate any suggestions you have to help me keep all groups working productively. I would like feedback on the clarity of my introduction, and my interactions with the students as they work in groups solving the problems.”





This lab section will introduce an activity that we will be working on over the next few weeks.  I will give an overview lecture of the goals, some background information, and our specific procedures.  The lab will complement what is being lectured in class during those weeks.” 
Please Note: Lab Meetings cannot be used for Teaching Observations

I would like feedback on how interactive the session is and how engaged the students are. During the pre-lab session, students need to understand the concepts and techniques that I will introduce in order to complete the lab successfully. Occasionally, I have a difficult time identifying the groups that are struggling with the lab exercises, and I want to make sure that I'm paying enough attention to those students who are having trouble.

Journal Club Presentation:

“Each week, a person in my graduate program presents a journal article to the other students. For my Teaching Observation, I chose an article that I will use to teach the group a new technique & model a system related to my own research.  It will be a one-time teaching opportunity on the subject, and some of the information will be new to just about everyone in the group.”

“My goal is to engage the audience and pique interest levels while clearly explaining and describing the research that I am presenting.  I am most interested in how they absorb techniques and concepts different from their own expertise/knowledge base.    I would like feedback on my presentation skills, and how clearly I am explaining the topics addressed.”

Departmental Seminar


Research Group Presentation:

“I am giving a short primer on my current research and the background behind it.  The main audience is undergraduate students in my lab (and a related laboratory), but I have also invited some beginning graduate students.”

“My goal in this seminar is to clearly deliver information to other students with limited exposure to my topic of interest. I plan to ask them questions, and seek questions from the audience.  I would appreciate your feedback on how clearly I express the main ideas and concepts, and how you think my audience is following along in what I'm presenting.  I am particularly interested in getting the audience excited about the research, and I would appreciate any feedback you have regarding this.”

Graduate Seminar or Reading Group:

“I will be introducing peers from other related fields of research to the research methodology of my field and research topic. This session will give me a chance to put to practice some of the concepts I have learned in the Sheridan certificate training.”


“I would like feedback on how I engendered interest in the material.  Additionally, I would like feedback on how clear the material is, and how cohesive a whole the material appears.   Of course, I always appreciate any other comments you may have, about slides, presentation, classroom participation etc. “




“I will be hosting a workshop for undergraduate students in the library.  These students will be coming from a large range of disciplines but will all be interested in learning about finding resources to do independent research projects.”

“I am looking for feedback on, coherence and structure of the workshop session, my interaction with students and the way I think on my feet. For example, How do I respond to student questions?”

Summer Session

“I am teaching an introductory 2 week course on X to high school students.  The class will meet each day for 3 hour sessions.  You should come and observe the first hour of the class”

“In this course I will be trying to maintain a college-level curriculum, but engage high school students who may lack some of the experience of the freshmen usually enrolled in this course.  I would appreciate feedback on how the students appear to be following along and any suggestions you have to engage them more in the class activities.”