Wayne State University

Classroom Observation

Would it help to know how you and your students are using class time?


The OTL offers classroom observations using a behavioral based protocol to illustrate how students and instructors spend their time in the classroom. An OTL consultant comes to a typical class day, takes regular notations on how you and the students spend class time (i.e., whether you are lecturing, leading an active in-class assignment, showing a video, etc.) in 2-minute intervals. The data allows you and the OTL consultant to characterize how you divide your time between various student-centered methods of teaching over the class session. As an instructor, you can use this data to determine if your class could benefit from rebalancing the distribution of lecturing, learning activities, or other strategies. Additionally, this process allows you to better understand how your students are spending their class time and, most importantly, if they’re engaged in the material.

OTL consultants are trained on how to watch for different faculty and student behaviors utilizing the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS), a short-hand coding methods to record student/instructor actions.  Although the name suggests STEM, it can be applied across the disciplines. As with the Mid-semester Assessment Program (MAP), the OTL consultant typically first meets with the instructor prior to attending the class for a brief chat to explain the process and clarify any questions. Based on the observations detailing instructor/students’ behaviors, the consultant constructs a graphic that summarizes how the instructors and students are spending their time in class. Next, the OTL consultant meets with the instructor to discuss the results and consider steps going forward. More information on the COPUS can be found here. To discuss this process or to schedule an observation please contact OTL@wayne.edu.