Identifying Mentors’ Observations for Providing Feedback

May, 2016

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 22, No. 2, 219–234, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aimed to identify what mentors observe and record as pertinent towards providing feedback.

The participants were 24 mentors. The mentors were experienced teachers (19 females and five males), who participated in mentoring for effective teaching (MET) professional development programme.

The mentors were asked to watch a video-recorded lesson of a final-year preservice teacher (mentee).
The author asked each mentor to view the lesson and write about their open observations. The mentors were also asked to provide notes about the mentee’s questioning of students, as if being the preservice teacher’s mentor observing his practices.

The results revealed that mentors’ observations with both positive and constructive criticisms clustered around three broad dimensions, namely: (1) visual, (2) auditory and (3) conceptual. For example, positive feedback from mentors included distinct visual observations, such as teacher movement, preparation, Information Communication Technology (ICT) visuals and the use of a whiteboard. The auditory signs involved aspects such as questioning students, use of students’ names, providing clear instructions and brainstorming prior knowledge.
The findings reveal that the mentors’ constructive criticisms were mainly based around the auditory dimension (e.g. complex instructions, voice tone/volume, paraphrasing, vocabulary scaffolding and language usage).

Furthermore, the mentors' were also asked to focus on on the mentee’s questioning.
The results revealed that open and closed questions were considered a positive aspect of the mentee’s questioning.

The author concludes that mentors need to be supported through professional development programmes that provide them with observational skills. For example, uncovering items within the three dimensions for observation (visual, auditory and conceptual) can be embedded in mentoring programmes to advance mentors’ decisions about how and what to observe. 

Updated: Aug. 26, 2018