Staff Perceptions of Lesson Observation and Feedback in a UK Secondary School: CPD, Identity, and Organisational Culture

Alshawabka, Khaled Elwalid (2018). Staff Perceptions of Lesson Observation and Feedback in a UK Secondary School: CPD, Identity, and Organisational Culture. EdD thesis The Open University.



Lesson observation and feedback is one of the main tools used to improve teaching and pupils’ learning and is seen as a key aspect of teachers’ continuing professional development. However, during a time of increasing accountability and performativity, the process is also linked to performance management and can be perceived negatively. Yet there is little research that looks precisely at this issue, especially from the perspectives of both teachers and middle leaders.

This study investigates teachers’ and middle leaders’ perceptions of lesson observation and feedback in a UK secondary school. The conceptual framework consists of three main interrelated concepts: (i) continuing professional development (CPD); (ii) professional identity; and (iii) organisational culture.

This study, situated in the interpretive paradigm, uses a qualitative case study method. Sixteen participants were interviewed: ten teachers, five middle leaders, and a teaching and learning coordinator. Data were also collected from documentary analysis of relevant policies and paperwork. These data were analysed using established thematic coding techniques.

The study reveals that nearly all participants recognised that lesson observation and feedback was very closely linked to their students’ learning, improvement of pedagogy, and the desire to develop their own teaching practice to become skilled professionals. Teachers responded positively towards their teaching when taking part in all types of observation and feedback, and collaboration, communication and trust were important elements of the process. Teachers’ major concerns were associated with certain aspects of the feedback given, for instance lack of time allocated to deliver constructive feedback, the subject specialism of the observer, and consultation in decision-making regarding their CPD needs. The study recommends that leaders should allow time with teachers as part of a genuine consultation, allowing thorough feedback. It appears that promoting and facilitating collegiality within the process of lesson observation helps create employee commitment and loyalty, thus eliminating some of the negativity associated with the process linked to accountability.

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