The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Michael Schwartz

Second Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Third Advisor

Kyounghee Seo

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Peer observation, professional development, novice teacher, experienced teacher, self-efficacy


Peer observation of teaching represents an opportunity for colleagues to observe one another and gain insights into their professional practice (Richards and Farrell, 2005). However, drawbacks to peer observation emerge when it is not perceived to be supportive and practical (Cosh, 1998). Peer observation is a requirement for Graduate Teaching Assistants (TAs) enrolled in the M.A. TESL practicum course at an Upper Midwest state university. The aim of this study is to examine the TAs’ perceptions of peer observation as a tool for their own professional development. It also examines if novice and experienced teachers hold different views of the peer observation process. Out of eight participants, four were identified as novice teachers and four were identified as experienced teachers. Both groups met in separate focus groups to discuss a series of questions designed to elicit their views and experiences of peer observation. From these focus groups, it was found that TAs considered peer observation to beneficial for their professional growth, allowing them to learn new instructional practices and build collegial relationships. However, participants also perceived many obstacles to peer observation, such as anxieties about being observed, the time involved, and uncertainties about its purpose, including whether the teacher being observed was meant to receive feedback on their instruction. Experienced and novice teachers held similar views of the efficacy of peer observation, with one notable difference being the greater sense of vulnerability shared by the novice teachers about being observed and receiving feedback on their practice. This discrepancy is tentatively attributed to the possibility that more experienced teachers have a higher level of self-efficacy, making them less vulnerable to the anxiety associated with being observed. The study concludes with some suggestions for improved peer observation protocol.