Student Observation of Teaching: changing learning and teaching at the University

What is the scheme about?

Student Observation of Teaching is an opportunity for students to collaborate with academics to develop their teaching. The student observer acts as a “critical friend” to the academic, offering feedback on their practice, and a fresh perspective on how they work with students. This might be done by sitting in on some of their teaching yourself; leading a focus group of students; or talking with them about questions or challenges they face in their teaching. Full training and support will be given, and involvement counts towards your HEAR. In last year’s pilot, students said they enjoyed it, found it interesting, felt it developed their relationship with academic staff, and offered them benefits in terms of thinking about their own learning habits. A short film about previous participants’ experiences is available.

How will this scheme help me?

Participation in this scheme should help you reflect on your own learning, and consider how different forms of learning and teaching might help you get the best from your studies. It will be useful experience for your CV, especially if you are thinking about teaching as a career, and will be included on your HEAR. It should also inform you if you’re interested in accreditation with the Higher Education Academy, and help shape the university’s stand on what good teaching is and does. Obviously, all of this should also have benefits for other students across the university; and it makes a real difference to individual participants. A student who took part in 2018 said, “I am happy to have achieved something and act as a bridge between students and the academic department. This is one of the best experiences for me at The University of Sheffield.”

How can I get involved?

Further information about the scheme is available in a Briefing note, which sets out what is involved for both student and staff participants. The scheme kicks off with a training event on the 31st of January, and there will be ongoing support throughout the spring semester. There is a Google Form for applications, which will be welcome by midday on Monday 20th January; successful applicants will be confirmed by the 24th of January.

Apply for the Student Observation of Teaching Scheme

This student observation scheme is just one way in which you can participate in the “rich and constructive dialogue between staff and students” called for in the Learning and Teaching at the University of Sheffield 2016-2021. If you would like to explore other ways, you might want to look at the university’s pages about making the most of your student experience