An exploratory study of instructional observation at Bilkent University School of English Language
Erdem, H. Esin
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This study investigated the model of supervision at Bilkent University, School of English Language (BUSEL), the mechanics and procedures involved in observation, and the teachers* attitudes towards observation. A questionnaire was self-prepared for data collection purp>oses: It had two separate parts. The former part included 12 items enquiring about personal qualities of the participants such as age, nationality, total teaching experience, and qualifications whereas the latter consisted of 24 multiple-choice items which were designed to collect data about observation features such as frequency and length of observations as well as aspects of the pre-observation, during-observation, and post-observation sessions. Prior to data collection at BUSEL, the questionnaire was piloted at Middle East Technical University, School of English Language. The participants in this study are 46 BUSEL teachers who are institutionally and regularly observed. The selection was done randomly by drawing.lots. Data collection through the questionnaire was conducted by the researcher, and the data were analysed with respect to the frequency of each item. The four research questions and the results are given below: 1. What model of observation is carried out institutionally at BUSEL? A combination of models such as directive, collaborative, and alternative are used. 2. what are the mechanics of institutional observation such as length and frequency? The participants are observed for four or eight times a year for an hour with previous notice. Each observation session lasts an hour. 3. What are the procedures of institutional observation such as data collection and feedback? Supervisors collect data by filling in forms and making handwritten notes. All participants receive feedback both in oral and written forms, and two-thirds discuss the feedback with their supervisors. 4· What are some of the attitudes which BUSEL teachers have towards features of institutional observation? Almost all participants feel positively about their supervisors. Most of them are indifferent to their supervisor's taking notes during observation, but prefer to be observed when they know the exact time and date. Almost half fel- that twice a year was an appropriate frequency of observation. Many participants believe the post-observation sessions are both evaluative and designed to lead to self-awareness and self-improvement. Almost half of the participants see the feedback they receive from their supervisors as average; half see it as above average. Suggestions resulting from the study were reduction in the frequency of the present observations to twice a year, and provisions for in-service training of teachers about models of supervision. Teachers should become more informed and thus more involved in decision making with respect to supervision.