Using digital peer observation to balance professional development and performance evaluation

  • Rachel Anna Maissan Navitas
  • Fiona Elizabeth Perry Navitas
Keywords: digital, peer observation, self-reflection, critical reflection, technology, ALL values, professional development, performance evaluation


This paper reports on how our Digital Peer Observation Process was developed; it describes the small scale pilot project, analyses feedback from the participants and manager, and speculates about further refinements to the process and possible future applications. The benefits of peer observation include evaluating expectations and beliefs, increasing confidence and collegiality, and improving pedagogy (Brockbank & McGill, 2006; Chester, 2012). Limitations included risk of self-deception and a lack of action following reflection (Brookfield, 1995; Carroll, 2009), time commitments (Chester, 2012; Hampton et al. 2004; Malthus, 2013) and the potential impact of having an observer in the consultation room. While acknowledging these benefits and limitations, the Navitas Academic Language and Learning (ALL) team had some additional concerns with the traditional peer observation process. These concerns included participants’ geographical distance, variations in work schedules, and balancing requirements for performance evaluation and low-cost professional development. During the pilot project, various ALL services were recorded via video conferencing or screen capture software, then observed using reflection guidelines developed by the team. The new digital process had three main benefits: team collegiality, clarity of the team’s vision and identity, and a balance of professional development and performance evaluation. In the pilot project, three challenges emerged from staff feedback: time commitment, misunderstanding of the process and materials, and concerns around giving colleagues ‘negative feedback’. In subsequent iterations, there is potential to explore further uses of technology and data in other contexts. The aim of this pilot project was to examine if digital tools and explicit processes could effectively balance teacher professional development using critical reflection and performance review for our national ALL team.

Author Biographies

Rachel Anna Maissan, Navitas
Student Learning Support Coordinator
Fiona Elizabeth Perry, Navitas
Student Learning Support Manager ELP
How to Cite
MaissanR. A., & PerryF. E. (2018). Using digital peer observation to balance professional development and performance evaluation. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 12(1), A33-A47. Retrieved from