IDEAS: Instructional Development for Equity, Accessibility and Success

SJSU’s Center for Faculty Development offers teaching consultations and observations to ALL faculty, including postdocs and graduate teaching associates. Our IDEAS program provides faculty an opportunity to receive support on their course design, pedagogy, syllabus, created lessons/modules, and other elements of their instructional assignment. All consultations and observations are confidential and may occur throughout the academic year. This formative feedback opportunity is designed to support and encourage you in reflective practices intended to inform your overall presence and effectiveness as educators.

The IDEAS Program is also available to SJSU colleges and departments seeking to revise and strengthen their peer observation or other instructional processes.

What is the difference between a consultation and teaching observation?

Consultations are intended to support you in developing a plan or direction for how to accomplish a particular instructional goal. Informed by their expertise, your consultant will provide analysis and recommendations for how to reflect on and/or strengthen elements of your teaching practice, including your teaching philosophy, course design, instructional materials and artifacts, or active learning strategies. Teaching observations, on the other hand, would focus primarily on your teaching practice as enacted with students. A teaching observation would consist of discussion about course learning goals, specific class objectives, learning outcomes, means of assessment, instructional communication, and other performative elements of instruction. A teaching observation is a three-step process involving a pre-observation briefing prior to the class session, the observation itself, and a post-observation debriefing.

Who provides the consultations and observations?

Dr. Deanna L. Fassett, Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Development, and Dr. Valin S. Jordan, the Equity and Accessibility Educator in SJSU’s Center for Faculty Development, lead the program. They will provide holistic consultations and feedback particular to teaching and learning.

Who can request teaching consultations and observations?

Any faculty member, post doc or graduate teaching associate may take advantage of this program and request an observation of your teaching, or consultation on your course design, syllabus, or instructional content.

How can I arrange a teaching consultation and/or observation?

Please reach out to us with your request at least two weeks prior to your desired date of observation/consultation. Consultations and observations are offered throughout the year, including summer and winter sessions.

What is the process for teaching observations? What happens before, during and after?

Teaching observations involve a three-step process. The first step is the pre-observation meeting. During the pre-observation meeting, you will meet with your assigned observer to discuss the course learning goals, the outcomes for that particular class session or module, your plans for diversifying the lecture, what you would like particular feedback on, and other context relevant to understanding your class climate and culture. At this meeting, the observer will provide any heuristics they will use in observing your instruction; this is also an opportunity for you to provide any materials you would like the observer to read or become familiar with prior to the observation during this stage of the process.

The next step in the process is the observation itself.  As a general rule, the observer will strive to be unobtrusive and discreet. The observer will keep notes, which will remain confidential.  Observations provided by CFD are purely formative, and may not be included in personnel processes.  Following the observation, you will receive a form to complete to guide your reflection on the process.

Finally, the last step of the process is a post-observation debriefing. During the post-observation meeting, you will have an opportunity to discuss your reflections on your class meeting and the observation process.  Then the observer will discuss what they observed and provide constructive feedback to support your teaching development.

What topics are addressed during a consultation or observation?

Topics may include, but but are not limited to:

  • Clarity of delivery
  • Lesson planning
  • Meeting the goals of student learning
  • Effective feedback in response to student work
  • Accessible, diverse, equitable, and inclusive teaching practices
  • Universal Design for Learning
    • Student engagement
    • Content representation
    • Action and Expression (Forms of Assessment)
  • Class climate/learning environment
  • Development of alternative pedagogical approaches

Can I receive an observation of an online course?

Of course! Any faculty member may request an observation of an online synchronous or asynchronous course. If seeking an observation of an asynchronous course, please guide the observer to the elements of the course (e.g., a particular module, the quality of instructor-student communication, etc.) upon which you’d like feedback.

Is a review of the syllabus included in the consultation or teaching observation process?

Yes. In order to be as helpful as possible, your observer needs to know as much about the course as possible.  Please submit the syllabus and other relevant course documents to cfd@sjsu.edu

How does this consultation and observation support me as a professional?

The consultations and teaching observations support your growth and development particular to teaching and student learning. We’d like to help make the teaching process feel less isolating and support you with opportunities to experiment, forge connections and strengthen your work-life balance. Further, the improvements to your classroom practices affect student success through the higher education pipeline from retention to persistence through completion.

I’d like to support the consultation and observation process for other faculty--how can I get involved??

If you are interested in becoming an informal peer consultant or observer, please first complete the Peer Consultant and Teaching Observation training. Please contact valin.jordan@sjsu.edu for more information.

Who receives information about my consultation and/or observation?

Information about your consultation and observation is confidential. CFD staff members will not share details about your participation in IDEAS beyond CFD.  Observations are formative and for your use only; they are not part of any formal personnel/evaluative process. Please note that CFD staff members are mandatory reporters. 

Who should I contact if I have questions?

If you have any questions, please contact the CFD team cfd@sjsu.edu.