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Observation Skills for Effective Teaching / Edition 6

Observation Skills for Effective Teaching / Edition 6

by Gary D. Borich
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780137039722
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 02/11/2010
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Gary Borich grew up on the south side of Chicago, where he attended Mendel High School and later taught in the public school system of Niles, Illinois. He received his doctoral degree from Indiana University, where he was director of evaluation at the Institute for Child Study. Dr. Borich is professor of Educational Psychology and a Cissy McDaniel Parker Endowed Fellow in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin and past member of the Board of Examiners of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Dr. Borich’s other books include Effective Teaching Methods, Seventh Edition; Educational Assessment for the Elementary and Middle School Classroom, Second Edition (with M. Tombari); Clearly Outstanding: Making Each Day Count in Your Classroom; Becoming a Teacher: An Inquiring Dialogue for the Beginning Teacher; Educational Psychology: A Contemporary Approach, Second Edition (with M. Tombari); Educational Testing and Measurement, Ninth Edition (with T. Kubiszyn); and The Appraisal of Teaching: Concepts and Process; and Teacher Behavior and Pupil Self Concept. Dr. Borich lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Kathy, and children, Brandy and Damon.

Table of Contents

1. Why Observe?

Goal 1: To Achieve Empathy

Goal 2: To Establish Cooperative Relationships

Goal 3: To Become Realistic

Goal 4: To Establish Direction

Goal 5: To Attain Confidence

Goal 6: To Express Enthusiasm

Goal 7: To Become Flexible

Goal 8: To Become Self-Reliant

A Beginning Thought

For More Information

Key Terms


2. Lenses for Observing

What Real Classrooms Are Like

Rapid Pace of Classrooms

Immediacy of Classrooms

Interruptions in Classrooms

Social Dynamics of Classrooms

Becoming Aware of Classroom Behavior: Lenses for Self-Improvement

To Become Aware of Your Own Behavior

To Discover Alternative Instructional Practices and New Solutions to Instructional Problems

To Determine Your Personal Teaching Strengths

To Focus Your Reflections on Important Areas of Teacher Effectiveness

Eight Lenses for Classroom Observation

Lens 1: Consider the Learning Climate

Lens 2: Focus on Classroom Management

Lens 3: Look for Lesson Clarity

Lens 4: Verify Variety

Lens 5: Observe Task Orientation

Lens 6: Examine Engagement

Lens 7: Measure Student Success

Lens 8: Look for Higher Thought Processes and Performance Outcomes

Challenges to Observing in Classrooms

Sources of Influence on Observations from Outside Ourselves

Student Ability and Achievement

Classroom Characteristics

Participatory and Cooperative Student Behavior

Experience and Education of the Teacher

School, Grade, and Subject Matter

Individual and Cultural Diversity

Sources of Influence on Observations from Within Ourselves

Your Own Experiences in School

Recent Influences and Training

Who May Be Watching; Who May Find Out

Choosing a Useful Lens: The Need to Structure Observations

For More Information

Key Terms


3. Making Classroom Visits

A Classroom Dialogue

Reactions from Observing Ms. Koker’s Classroom

Observing the Learning Climate

Observing Classroom Management

Observing Lesson Clarity

Observing Instructional Variety

Observing the Teacher’s Task Orientation

Observing Students’ Engagement in the Learning Process

Observing Student Success

Observing Higher Thought Processes and Performance Out-comes

Preparing to Observe in Real Classrooms

Activities Before the Observation

Activities During the Observation

Activities After the Observation

For More Information

Key Terms


4. “Seeing” Beyond Personal Experiences and Expectations: Learning to Observe Systematically

Why Observe Systematically?

Methods for Observing and Recording

Method 1: Narrative Reports

Method 2: Rating Scales

Method 3: Classroom Coding Systems

For More Information

Key Terms


5. Considering the Learning Climate

Dimensions of Learning Climate

Teacher Concerns

A Teacher Concerns Instrument

Observing Teacher Concerns in the Classroom

Warmth and Control

Dimensions of Warmth and Control

Behavioral Signs of Warmth and Control

Social Environment

Dimensions of Social Environment

Observing the Social Environment of the Classroom

Cultural Diversity and the Learning Climate

For More Information

Key Term


6. Focusing on Classroom Management

Dimensions of Classroom Management

Practice Observing Classroom Management: A Dialogue

Time to Reflect

Arranging the Classroom to Meet Instructional Goals

Observing the Classroom Arrangement

Preestablishing and Communicating Classroom Rules

Observing Classroom Rules

Developing and Communicating Instructional Routines

Observing Instructional Routines

Establishing a System of Incentives and Consequences

Observing Incentives and Consequences

Using Low-Profile Classroom Management

Observing Low-Profile Classroom Management

Cultural Diversity and Classroom Management

For More Information

Key Terms


7. Looking for Lesson Clarity

Dimensions of Lesson Clarity

Informing Learners of Lesson Objectives

Observing Lesson Objectives

Providing Advance Organizers

Observing Advance Organizers

Checking for Lesson-Relevant Prior Knowledge and Reteaching, if Necessary

Observing Lesson-Relevant Prior Knowledge and Reteaching

Teaching to Students’ Current Level of Understanding

Observing Level of Instruction

Giving Directives Clearly

Observing Clarity of Directives

Using Examples, Illustrations, and Demonstrations

Observing Use of Examples, Illustrations, and Demonstrations

Reviewing and Summarizing

Observing Review and Summary Techniques

Cultural Diversity and Lesson Clarity

Practice Observing Lesson Clarity: A Dialogue

Time to Reflect

For More Information

Key Terms


8. Verifying Instructional Variety

Dimensions of Instructional Variety

Practice Observing Instructional Variety: A Dialogue

Time to Reflect

Using Attention-Gaining Devices

Observing Attention-Gaining Devices

Showing Enthusiasm and Animation

Observing Enthusiasm and Animation

Varying Instructional Activities and Media

Observing the Variation in Instructional Activities and Media

Varying Rewards and Reinforcement

Observing the Use of Rewards and Reinforcement

Varying Types of Questions and Probes

Observing Types of Questions and Probes

Using Student Ideas

Observing the Use of Student Ideas

Cultural Diversity and Instructional Variety

For More Information

Key Terms


9. Observing Task Orientation

Dimensions of Task Orientation

Practice Observing Task Orientation: A Dialogue

Time to Reflect

Preparing Unit and Lesson Plans That Reflect the Curriculum

Observing Whether Unit and Lesson Plans Reflect the Curriculum

Performing Administrative and Clerical Tasks Efficiently

Observing Administrative and Clerical Tasks

Preventing and Correcting Misbehavior

Observing the Prevention and Correction of Misbehavior

Selecting the Most Appropriate Instructional Strategy for the Objectives Taught

Observing the Most Appropriate Instructional Strategy for the Objectives Taught

Establishing Cycles of Review, Feedback, and Testing

Observing Cycles of Review, Feedback, and Testing

Cultural Diversity and Task Orientation

For More Information

Key Terms


10. Examining Engagement in the Learning Process

Dimensions of Student Engagement in the Learning Process

Practice Observing Student Engagement in the Learning Process: A Dialogue

Time to Reflect

Eliciting the Desired Behavior

Observing Eliciting Activities

Providing Feedback and Correctives in a Noncritical Atmosphere

Observing Feedback and Correctives

Using Individual and Self-Regulated Learning Activities

Observing Differentiated and Self-Regulated Learning Activities

Using Meaningful Verbal Praise

Observing Meaningful Verbal Praise

Monitoring and Checking

Observing Monitoring and Checking

Cultural Diversity and Student Engagement

For More Information

Key Terms


11. Measuring Student Success

Dimensions of Student Success

Practice Observing Student Success: A Dialogue

Time to Reflect 225

Planning Unit and Lesson Content That Reflects Prior Learning

Observing Unit and Lesson Content That Reflects Prior Learning

Providing Mediated Feedback to Extend and Enhance Learning

Observing Mediated Feedback to Extend and Enhance Learning

Planning Units and Lessons at, or Slightly Above, Students’ Current Level of Understanding

Observing Instruction at, or Slightly Above, the Learners’ Current Level of Understanding

Making Transitions Between Lesson Content

Observing Transitions Between Lesson Content

Establishing Momentum That Engages Learners in the Learning Process

Observing Momentum

Cultural Diversity and Student Success

For More Information

Key Terms


12. Looking for Higher Thought Processes and Performance Outcomes

Dimensions of Higher Thought Processes and Performance Outcomes

Practice Observing Higher Thought Processes and Performance Outcomes: A Dialogue

Time to Think

Using Collaborative and Group Activities

Observing Collaborative and Group Activities

Demonstrating Mental Models and Strategies for Learning

Observing Mental Models and Strategies for Learning

Arranging for Student Projects and Demonstrations

Observing Student Projects and Demonstrations

Engaging Students in Oral Performance

Observing Students in Oral Performance

Providing Opportunities for Students to Learn from Their Mistakes

Observing Consequential Learning Activities

Using Portfolios and Performance Assessments of Learning

Observing Portfolios and Performance Assessments

Cultural Diversity and Performance Outcomes

For More Information

Key Terms


APPENDIX: How to Determine Percentage of Observer Agreement for a Counting Observation System







People in all walks of life want to know how they can acquire the skills and competencies to become a professional in their field. All of us want to become experts or professionals, but we know that it requires more than simply a desire to be good at what we do. This book focuses on one of the primary means by which you can become a professional—by observing others and incorporating what you see and hear into your own behavior.

To be sure, this process requires more than simply watching others who are competent in their jobs. To become competent at teaching, you must know what to look for, and you must have a framework or structure by which what is observed can be made meaningful for your own behavior. Other skills are needed, too. You must be psychologically ready and physically prepared to observe, have tools for categorizing and recording what you see, and have a knowledge of content and methods. But even this is not enough: To become a professional, you must understand the patterns and sequences of effective teaching that make all of the parts work as a whole.

Where do effective teachers learn to make the parts work as a whole? How do they bring their natural abilities, knowledge of content and teaching methods, and professional goals together into a harmonious pattern of intelligent behavior to become a professional? It isn't from books or training sessions alone—these can focus on only a small number of activities. It isn't from teaching experience, either—the hectic pace of the classroom makes it impossible for many teachers to reflect on their own patterns of behavior. Only through observing more experienced teachers can all of theseingredients be brought together into a meaningful pattern to be modeled in your own classroom. These patterns of practice—not individual techniques, strategies, or methods alone—make teachers effective.

As we will see in this text, the purpose of observation is to improve yourself. Plans for self-improvement are realistic when they are based on your own unique strengths and challenges and on the school context in which they are to occur. The importance of this latter point is not always recognized: A teaching activity that is effective in one school or classroom may not be effective in another. No amount of student teaching, experience or formal instruction can prepare you to teach in every classroom context. Although student teaching and instruction can point you in the right direction to maximize your growth, the realities of a specific classroom and the students within it will determine what and how much you learn and grow as a teacher. This is the unique function of classroom observation: to understand teaching within specific classrooms of learners, and to develop a program of self-improvement based on that understanding. In short, the dimensions of effective teaching ultimately must be defined by the qualities and characteristics of those who must be taught. This is why classroom observation is so important: It reveals the patterns of practice by which real teachers—professionals—refine and match the dimensions of effective teaching most appropriate to a specific population of learners.

To accomplish this goal, this book presents effective teaching practices that can be observed during three stages of your career-preteaching, student teaching, and induction- (first-) year teaching. At each of these stages this text provides competencies for preparing you to observe, learning how to . observe, and knowing what to observe.


Chapter 1 focuses on the close and necessary relationship between personal attributes for successful living and professional competence. It explores the characteristics that make an individual successful as a person as well as a professional—characteristics that you will learn from classroom observation.

Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the psychological preparation and attitudes important to observing the complex sequences of events that occur in classrooms. These chapters explain why observation is important (chapter 2) and how to prepare for transforming the casual process of looking into the systematic process of observing, from which your teaching can grow (chapter 3).

Chapter 4 is devoted to the technical competence that must precede systematic observation. This chapter describes the tools that observers use to record life in classrooms and to organize their observations in useful ways. You will learn how to develop and use simple tools of observation, and how to revise them to fit a particular school context and your own self-improvement goals.

Chapters 5 through 12 present the framework or lenses through which life in classrooms can be organized and made meaningful. Observation skills are presented according to eight areas found by researchers to be related to desirable cognitive, social and emotional outcomes in learners. These eight areas, each containing patterns for observing effective teaching, are learning climate, classroom management, lesson clarity, instructional variety, task orientation, student engagement in the learning process, student success, and higher thought processes. Each chapter in this section combines a study of observation skills with the patterns of effective teaching practice identified in the research literature. The methodological concepts, observation instruments, and dialogues they contain are designed to help the observer see and practice research-based patterns of effective teaching. This is the unique focus of Observation Skills for Effective Teaching, Fourth Edition.


The fourth edition has a new look. To make the book more practical for students, we have continued to allow copying of more than 40 observation instruments and records, increasing its value as a handbook and recording tool that can be carried into the classroom.

Second, this edition is now aligned with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) principles and standards, so that you learn the important role that research-based effective teaching behaviors play in the larger regional and national certification process. These national standards—prepared mostly by and for teachers—indicate what teachers should be able to do, along with a voluntary system to certify teachers who meet these standards. In this text you learn and practice observing specific effective teaching behaviors for meeting these national certification standards.

You will also notice that we have expanded the important role of instructional media and technology and emphasized its importance to effective teaching behaviors. To reinforce this emphasis, we have added an end-of-chapter section titled "For More Information" which highlights Web-based information for the teacher keyed to each of our effective teaching behaviors.

Readers of previous editions will also see that we have integrated into our discussions the most recent findings on teaching culturally diverse students. While updating sections on cultural diversity at the end of each chapter, we have added additional discussions and citations within chapters to emphasize the importance of how to teach in culturally diverse classrooms.

We also have added to this edition a Glossary of Key Concepts—or "at a glance" summary of some of the most important professional terms and concepts provided in the text. The Glossary is an easy-to-access reference for reviewing and studying the professional language of teaching and some of the most important principles and concepts which underlie this language. In the text, glossary entries appear in bold.

These changes, along with the most recent references and presentation of new research, make this edition even more user friendly and practical for the beginning teacher than previous editions.


This book can be used in several ways. First, it may be used as a companion volume to Effective Teaching Methods, Fourth Edition (Borich, 2000, and its Fifth Edition, 2003), in which some of these same pedagogical concepts are presented in a methods text format. In Observation Skills for Effective Teaching, students learn how to observe and practice many of the behaviors and patterns of practice presented in Effective Teaching Methods, Fourth Edition.

Second, this text can be used for a preteaching or observation course taken prior to, or in conjunction with, a methods course. Thus, it can serve as an advance organizer for more specific and pedagogically oriented courses that follow.

Third, this text may be used as a resource during student teaching and beginning teaching to provide a direction and foundation for a program of self-improvement, training, and mentoring. It provides many practical tools for teacher self-development and renewal throughout the early years of teaching. In each of these applications, the major goal of this text is to sensitize the beginning teacher, through observation, to patterns of effective teaching and to begin the process of self-improvement based upon these effective teaching patterns.


Some special features of Observation Skills for Effective Teaching, Fourth Edition, are

  • Beginning chapters (why observe?, preparing to observe, and how to observe) that prepare the beginning teacher for the psychological, technical, and cognitive demands of observing in classrooms.
  • Integration of the most recent research findings on the dimensions of learning climate, classroom management, lesson clarity, instructional variety, task orientation, student engagement in the learning process, student success, and higher thought processes and performance outcomes, with discussions of why these dimensions are important and how they can be integrated to form patterns of effective teaching practice.
  • Classroom examples of effective and less effective teaching and what they look like through the eyes of a teacher. Through the use of realistic classroom dialogues in a variety of subject-matter areas, grades, and levels of schooling and integrative discussions that follow, readers see effective teaching practices alongside less effective practices. These interpret and place in perspective the most relevant features of each practice dialogue from the observer's point of view.
  • More than 40 full-page, easy-to-copy instruments, scales, and data-recording formats for observing and implementing major patterns of effective teaching.
  • Discussions at the end of each chapter that sensitize the reader to cultural, ethnic, and gender issues pertaining to the observation of each pattern of teaching behavior within the culturally diverse classroom.
  • Activities at the end of each chapter that engage the beginning teacher in the observation process and the development of patterns of effective teaching.

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