Peer Observation in Support of Effective Teaching (POSET)

POSET is a voluntary program for School of Medicine educators and may be useful for:

• Providing an additional source of confidential feedback in addition to student feedback

• Promoting the development of a collegial network of teaching mentors

• Demonstrating and documenting excellence in teaching for the promotion dossier

• Developing a community of learners and educators

Participation in POSET training and observations fulfills an expectation of CPL’s Achievement in Medical Education Program (AMEP) towards either a Foundational or Advanced Certificate.

Peer Observation in Support of Effective Teaching is a powerful tool for faculty development through metacognition and feedback. The process engages faculty educators in a supportive exchange about teaching and promotes educational development and collaboration. Through confidential interaction with a trained observer, faculty educators receive feedback on the strengths and challenges about the learning environment, learner engagement, session management and teaching strategies based on a pre-negotiated, standardized assessment tool Benefits for the peer observers include new perspectives and methods that they might want to incorporate into their own teaching practices.

The process includes three steps:

  1. A “pre-observation” meeting to establish the faculty’s desired focus of the observation, reviewing the observer’s tool for feedback, and scheduling a session for observation.
  2. “Observation” in your session.
  3. “Post-observation” meeting to conclude the POSET process, which will include both the faculty and peer observer’s feedback, self-reflections and future mentoring as desired.

CPL provides training in the POSET process in two formats.

  • We typically offer our 1.5 hour live workshop once each semester. To read a description and see the next available session, please visit our Learn @ Lunch page.

  • Our online module, delivered through Moodle, is designed to allow for self-paced completion any time anywhere. Read more, and register, here.

What is POSET?

POSET is a process for obtaining formative peer feedback on teaching and for two colleagues to learn about teaching through conversation about an observed teaching experience.  The nature of the observed teaching and learning session and all feedback and conversations between the observer and observee are confidential; only participation and input on participants’ experience with the POSET process are reported to CPL.

Is POSET required for SOM educators?

POSET is open to all educators (faculty, residents, staff, post-docs, and students with teaching roles) on a voluntary basis.  Participation in POSET, as both an observer and an observee, is necessary for completing the Achievement in Medical Education Program (AMEP).

Does any peer observation qualify as participating in POSET?

To assure application of best practices in peer observation of teaching and to maximize the learning impact of the experience, all POSET observers participants must (1) attend an in-person or online workshop on the POSET process, and (2) observers and observees complete self-reflection forms for each observation and submit them to CPL (hsc-cpl@salud.unm.edu).

Why have peer observation of teaching?

Peer observation is widely recognized as an essential part of professional growth as a teacher.  When we teach, we are commonly unaware of many of our actions, or the actions and reactions of learners, that are readily recognized by an objective observer as either enhancing or impeding the learning process.  Feedback and suggestions from a respected, trusted peer are important for adjusting teaching behaviors to improve learning and to augment existing exemplar behaviors.  Observers also gain knowledge and skill from watching and thinking about how another teacher instructs learners. Acknowledging to your learners that an observer is present makes you a role model for soliciting feedback as a desirable aspect of professional growth.

When should I request an observation?

If you have never been observed, or have never observed others teach in a structured way, then you are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity at any time.  Observations can be most effective when you are relatively new to a particular course or rotation and desire an independent check on how you are doing.  You may also want to request an observation if you have received other feedback from learners, peers, house staff, or department leadership regarding your teaching that concerns you.  Follow-up observations are encouraged, particularly when you receive feedback during an initial POSET session about behaviors that you desire to adjust.  Observations will be most helpful when you feel confident about what you are planning to do in a learning session and are not encouraged on the first occasion when you plan to do something very different from your past experience. Some educators plan for observations after striving to implement new instructional ideas learned at CPL workshops.

Who should I request to observe me?

To qualify as a completed POSET observation, your chosen observer must have completed the POSET training workshop.  Those who have completed the workshop are encouraged to sign up with CPL to be an observer. So, a good place to start in selecting an observer is to request a list from CPL (hsc-cpl@salud.unm.edu).  If you complete the training workshop, please consider adding yourself to the CPL observer list so that you can benefit from observing other faculty and they will then benefit from your feedback.  Sometimes, faculty peers wish to provide reciprocal observations for one another; that is an encouraged practice and you may also wish to attend the POSET training workshop together.  Although you may want a colleague in your department to conduct the observation because they are familiar with the content you are teaching, also consider the benefits of an observer from outside of your department who, by not being as engaged with the content, will more likely focus on the teaching and learning processes that are taking place.

How should I decide what to have the observer see?

Although an observee will likely pay attention to all aspects of the learning session, it is advisable to select no more than five specific aspects for focused attention.  These focused behaviors may be the ones that you and the observer agree are most essential for the particular teaching circumstance, or they may be behaviors for which you desire preferential feedback because these are elements that you are specifically working to improve. You are encouraged to consult the Teaching Behaviors Menu for Peer Observation of Teaching that is provided on the POSET webpage if you are seeking ideas and examples for what to include as priorities in your observation.

Are there resource or reference materials available to me regarding effective teaching practices?

CPL is developing resources for educators in the UNM School of Medicine. To learn what is currently available, click here. All of the information in this packet is available from the POSET webpage. You are also encouraged to request specific information or a consultation from CPL by emailing us at hsc-cpl@salud.unm.edu.  In addition, CPL offers workshops throughout the year.

POSET Full Training Packet

POSET Observer Guidelines

POSET Teaching Behaviors Menu

Tips for Conducting POSET When Teaching Remotely

CPL maintains a database of trained POSET observers willing to participate in the process. To request a current list, please Make a Request.

If you would like to implement POSET across your program, department or block, or schedule a POSET training session specific to your area, please “Make a Request.”