Do teacher observations make any difference to student performance? Surprisingly, study says no

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and to be honest, I’ve skipped one because I thought some research mentioned in the newsletter wasn’t really deserving the label of best evidence. The new edition is better, although I was reluctant to share this study. Not because I think it wasn’t conducted in a good way, but because the results are in contradiction with previous research. Still, it is important to share studies even if they don’t show what you expected – or even more important if they don’t.

Check this:

An evaluation published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in the UK has found that introducing more frequent and structured lesson observations – where teachers observe their colleagues and give them feedback – made no difference to students’ GCSE math and English results (GCSEs are high-stakes exams taken in a range of subjects by secondary students in England).

A randomized controlled trial of the whole-school intervention Teacher Observation was conducted in 82 secondary schools in England, which had high proportions of students who had ever been eligible for free school meals. In total, the study involved 14,163 students – 7,507 students (41 schools) in the intervention, and 6,656 students (41 schools) in the control.

Math and English teachers in the intervention schools were asked to take part in at least six structured 20-minute peer observations over a two-year period (with a suggested number of between 12 and 24). Teachers rated each other on specific elements of a lesson, such as how well they managed behavior, engaged students in learning, or used discussion techniques.

The evaluation, which was conducted by a team from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), found that Teacher Observation had no impact on students’ GCSE English and math scores compared to those of students in control schools (effect size = -0.01).


3 thoughts on “Do teacher observations make any difference to student performance? Surprisingly, study says no

  1. Unless there were some effective new teaching strategies being implemented I wouldn’t have expected anything else. Just observing peers and giving feedback without developing the expertise of those involved – kind of like expecting students to improve each other’s knowledge of a subject by through group work. I think coaching from a expert mentor teacher would be a different kettle of fish.

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