Tompkins Cortland Community College

CollegeNow

Site Visit Guidelines

Site visits are instrumental in assuring the quality of teaching and learning in a concurrent enrollment course. These visits also provide CollegeNow instructors with an opportunity to receive feedback on their teaching as it relates to college-level course expectations. Most Liaisons also find that they benefit from the visits, as they observe varied teaching and assessment strategies. These visits are to be collegial in nature, drawing upon the mutual expertise of both the CollegeNow instructor and the Faculty Liaison.

All new instructors must be visited in their first semester of teaching. Liaisons may visit before the course begins and also make multiple visits in the first year or two until the instructor and Liaison are "comfortable" with the course. Then, visits are scheduled every 1-3 years, based on your assessment of the course, level of instructor participation in CollegeNow professional development, frequency of other communication between the Liaison and instructor, and any other factors that may affect the timing of visits.

To support Liaisons in carrying out effective site visits, we are sharing and adapting resources (with permission) from Cornell’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). Based on Cornell’s CTE research and experience, effective peer review of classroom teaching generally includes the following steps:

  • Pre-class discussion (in person before class, or via email or phone)
  • Site Visit/Classroom observation *
  • Post-class debriefing (in person right after class, or later via phone or email)
  • Written summary documenting the process (using the CollegeNow Site Visit Form)

This process can typically be carried out in two hours.

* If an in-person class observation is not feasible, the instructor may record a class and send the video to the Liaison for review. In other cases, video conferencing or other distance technologies may be used to allow the Liaison access to the class.

Pre-Visit Discussion

Before the visit, the liaison and CollegeNow instructor should discuss the instructor’s plan for the class, touching on the following questions:

  • What does the instructor want the students to have learned by the end of this class?
  • What will happen in the class?
  • How does this class fit in with the overall course?
  • What pre-class work will the students have done for this class?
  • Are there specific aspects of the class on which the instructor would like to receive feedback?
  • If necessary (IE, instructor has not attended the CollegeNow conference), what professional development should/will occur as part of this visit? Liaison may wish to share PD materials in advance so that post-visit can be focused on discussion of those materials/concepts.

Liaisons should ask to review course materials (examples listed below). Some materials, like student work, will likely be viewed at the visit, but request should still be made in advance.

  • The Concurrent Enrollment Course Outline Template
  • Teaching materials the instructor has prepared for that class, such as handouts, pre-class quizzes, homework due that day, teaching notes, slides, or an overall lesson or unit plan
  • Samples of assessments and graded student work

Site Visit

Cornell’s CTE cites the following criteria as factors that enhance student learning. Some of the above are evaluated by the school principal (like classroom management), but most are very applicable to the college course evaluation.

  • Clarification of class purpose: How well does the instructor convey the purpose of the class?
  • Organization of class structure: Are the class materials and activities well organized?
  • Reinforcement of major concepts: Does the instructor emphasize the major concepts being covered? Do the activities and materials utilized in class reinforce the major concepts?
  • Pacing and scope: Is the material presented at a suitable rate? Is the amount of material covered reasonable?
  • Classroom atmosphere: Has the instructor established a safe and respectful classroom atmosphere conducive to student learning?
  • Consideration of diversity: Does the instructor acknowledge or interact with a broad range of students? Is the instructor respectful of diverse opinions and perspectives? Does the instructor employ a diverse set of methods to accommodate a range of student learning styles?
  • Class management: Does the instructor effectively manage the class?
  • Balance between abstract and concrete: If applicable, is there an appropriate balance between abstract and concrete concepts?
  • Classroom assessment: If applicable, in what ways does the instructor check for comprehension and solicit feedback?

In addition, the Liaison should pay particular attention to whether the course is consistent with college expectations. In essence, does the concurrent enrollment course look and feel like a college course within your discipline? Are students being held to similar standards? Is the instructor using appropriate texts, materials, assessments, and grading strategies for the course?

Post-Visit Discussion

This may occur in person or via phone or email at a later time. Some possible guidelines for the discussion include:

  • Sharing perspectives on what took place during the classroom session
  • Discussing any points brought up pre-visit
  • Discussing any comments recorded on the site visit form
  • Conducting professional development, particularly if the instructor has not attended the CollegeNow conference

If there are areas of concern in regards to alignment with college expectations, a development plan should be created with a clear timeline for follow-up and possible recourse if standards are not met.

Reporting

The Liaison must complete the Site Visit Form and submit it to CollegeNow Concurrent Enrollment Coordinator. Please be as complete as possible in recording notes and reflections that relate to the alignment of the course with college expectations, including areas for commendation and improvement. Include with the form, a description of any professional development that occurred (separate from the observation/class discussion notes), with supplementary materials attached as needed (for example, a copy of an article or resource that may have been discussed).