Teagle Fellowship Program Spring 2014
Teaching Observation Plan: Draft 1
Observer & Primary Author: Candace Cunard
Teacher: Philip Rodenbough


Philip is a chemistry PhD student. He is a teaching assistant for organic chemistry II. This class is required of all post-baccalaureate premedical students, and undergraduate chemistry majors. The class consists of two 75-minute lectures from the principle instructor and one 50-minute recitation section led by the TA each week. Philip has taught in a similar format for general chemistry I in the past.

Candace will come to observe Philip's class on a day with a quiz at the beginning, a student presentation in the middle, and a TA presentation at the end. The topic will be chapters 18 & 19 of the textbook: ethers & epoxides (18), and aldehydes and ketones in nucleophilic addition reactions (19). It will probably not be useful for Candace to review the material before the class. There are 11 students in the class.

During the entire semester, Philip is trying out a new style of recitation. Normally recitations include quizzes and TA presentations. Philip is adding student presentations into the mix. This is challenging because Philip cannot actually use the student presentations in grading, but he hopes that the students will be enthusiastic and cooperative nonetheless. The student presentations are meant to be short and stress-free, but they should include a paper from a scientific journal that relates to the topic being presented. This will be a challenge for the students, but it is a great way to expose them to real-time science, it will give depth to their understanding, they will remember it more easily, and they will gain valuable presentation skills. The students will present in pairs, so the teamwork muscle will also be exercised. Philip hopes that this project is well-received by the students, and that they find it to be beneficial and useful.

Philip wants honest feedback from the students about this different format so he can adjust his recitation as necessary to meet the needs of the students.


Instructor's learning goal for the evaluated class session or assignment:
  • Presenting students will gain a greater understanding of the material they present on
  • Non-presenting students will pay attention and hopefully also gain a greater understanding of the material by hearing presentations given by fellow students, who may explain concepts in simpler terms
  • All students will use the wiki generated alongside the presentations in order to study for exams
  • All students will receive higher scores on exams and quizzes

Instructor's vision of how students will step towards that goal
  • Presenting about a real scientific experiment that makes use of the processes or reactions described in the week’s lecture/reading content will allow presenting students an opportunity to come at the same information from a different angle, which may better engage them in the learning process.
  • As students realize that these presentations are helpful and generate useful review material for the whole class, they will begin to treat them seriously as components of the class, which will in turn increase their effectiveness.

Observer's understanding of what exactly he or she is tracking / Observer's understanding of how the tracked session or assignment will be measured
  • With regards to the specific session observed, Candace will:
    • pay attention to body language of the class during the TA presentation in order to determine whether students seem to be paying attention and engaged/understanding the process
    • pay attention to body language of the rest of the class during the student presentation in order to determine whether students seem to be paying attention and engaged/understanding the process—compare this to body language during TA presentation
    • perform a focus group during the last ten minutes of the session in order to receive feedback from students about how they perceive the assignment to be working and what they might want to change about it to make it more useful

  • With regards to trends in the class as a whole, Candace will:
    • work with Philip to determine whether there is a correlation between higher quiz scores and presenting on the quiz topic
    • track the number of hits received by presentation pages on the class wiki at specified intervals, in order to see when students are using the review material and, if possible, how many of them are using it/how frequently they are doing so

Observation Activities

The week before the observation, Philip will talk to his class about the Teagle Program and tell them they will have an observer next time. He will also say that the observer will ask questions at the end of class so students will be prepared.

Candace will come to class with the rest of the students on March 3rd. She will be briefly introduced. The quiz will be administered. The student presentation will proceed. The TA presentation will proceed. And then Philip will leave the room and Candace will ask questions to the students. Philip worked with CCNMTL to develop effective survey questions. They are as follows:

1) Do you find the literature presentations to be useful or interesting? (yes or no survey question, hold up one finger for yes, two fingers for no, Candace does a quick count).

2) Do you have anything you would like to say about the literature presentations? (open ended 2-minute conversation, 2-3 responses).

3) Do you find the wikispace to be a useful or appropriate digital tool for this class? (yes/no survey question, hold up one finger for yes, two fingers for no, Candace does a quick count).

4) Do you have anything you would like to say about the wikispace? (open ended 2-minute conversation, 2-3 responses).

5) Do you find that this recitation in general is more or less helpful for your learning goals than recitations you've had in other semesters? (survey question, 1 finger for more helpful, 2 fingers for less helpful, Candace does a quick count).

6) Do you have anything you would like to say about how this recitation section can be better? (open ended conversation, 2 minutes, 2-3 student responses).

Candace will run the small group discussion, record responses and thoughts, and talk to Philip about the results later.


1/30: Present first draft observation plan to Teagle Fellows

2/10: Revise observation plan as needed

3/3: Class Observation, 5:10-6pm
a) 5:10-5:20pm: Philip introduces Candace, administers quiz.
b) 5:20-5:30pm: Student presentation.
c) 5:30-5:45pm: Philip’s presentation.
d) 5:45-6pm: Candace asks students questions and records responses.

Sometime later: Candace and Philip review information provided by students. Philip writes observation report with Candace’s input.

Sometime after that: Candace and Philip present to Teagle scholars about the results.