Student Observer Program

The Student Observer Program, which has been available at Carleton since the 1970's, is a cornerstone of LTC activities. Primarily a resource for the professors, it also serves as a very practical, experimental, and paid means for students to reflect about teaching, classroom interaction, and learning.

Purpose

The purpose of the Student Observer program is to provide faculty with trained students who will sit in on their classes and discuss observations, insights, and questions about the teaching and learning in a course. The program has worked successfully for faculty members from a wide variety of disciplines and in various stages of their careers. The point of the program is to give faculty the benefit of a trained student's perspective on a course as the course is developing.

How it Works

Professors request an observer for a particular course. A student is assigned to attend that professor's class and provide feedback on areas in which the teacher wishes more information. Professors often ask observers to provide feedback regarding student-teacher interaction, such as how long he or she waits for a response after asking a question or whether or not questions seem to be inviting open responses. Both lecture and discussion classes can be observed for clarity of presentation and levels of energy and enthusiasm in both students and teacher. 

How to Get Involved

Faculty:  Interested faculty should contact the LTC directly or complete the online application form. Professors are paired with student observers, who are paid to attend classes and meet regularly to discuss their confidential observations. Faculty are expected to provide goals for the observers by directing attention to particular issues or concerns in their teaching or the course. Having an additional set of eyes and ears in the classroom helps to inform faculty decisions, build confidence in their teaching strategies, and further their reflections about the often complicated dynamics of the educational process.

Students:  Are you interested in observing classes? Become a Perlman Learning and Teaching Center Fellow!  Click here for a complete description of the position.

Participants Say...

Professors:

"I had specific goals for how to make the class more interactive...with the help of my observer, they worked so well that we've gone on to new issues!"

"The observer was able to tell me how students react in ways I could not know, or notice easily."

Student:

"Now I'm a student observer in all my classes...I'm gaining skills in identifying what works and learning how I learn best."