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Teacher appraisal : the impact of observation on teachers’ classroom behaviour

By Amanda Jane Howard


This thesis is based on three English language teacher case studies located in the Middle\ud East where classroom discourse has been analysed in order to establish the impact that\ud an appraisal observer has on teachers‘ behaviour. The literature suggests that the\ud presence of an observer alters events in the classroom, but to date there has not been any\ud research into the nature of these changes which draws on transcripts of observed lessons.\ud Each teacher recorded a model (observed) and a pedagogic (non–observed) lesson with\ud similar parameters so that they could be compared, and commonalities and differences\ud identified. The teachers were then interviewed in order to establish their understanding\ud of the salient features of appraisal observations, as were three supervisors responsible for\ud observing teachers in similar contexts. Transcripts of the lessons were analysed using\ud SETT (Walsh, 2006), and the interview data was also transcribed and evaluated.\ud The results indicate that there are significant differences between model and pedagogic\ud lessons in terms of the external factors (planning, sequencing, interaction, amount of\ud administration, student use of L1). However, the internal factors (the features of\ud ongoing verbal interaction between teacher and students in the classroom) remain\ud fundamentally the same whether or not an observer is present, although the teacher\ud demonstrates greater control in a model lesson.\ud By analysing transcripts of classroom interaction, this research indicates what happens\ud in the classroom when teachers are being observed, providing data to confirm existing\ud claims about observer effects, and suggesting that the learner role is greater than\ud originally thought. The importance of observer training is identified, as well as the need\ud for a fundamental review of observation, encompassing all parties involved, if it is to be\ud a true reflection of the classroom behaviour of the teacher being observed

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