Evaluation resources – Observation

This guide supports school planning and the evaluation of Strategic Improvement Plans (SIP) initiatives and implementation and progress monitoring (IPM) for curriculum implementation. This resource includes an observation template that schools can contextualise, adapt and draw from to meet the needs of each school.

What and why

A observation:

  • is an organised process for watching and recording events or behaviours that occur in a particular setting (for example: learning space, playground, meetings).
  • provides opportunity for schools to monitor, assess a process or situation and record evidence of what people are doing, saying, how they use their time or how they interact together or within a particular setting.
  • can be short, (as part of a lesson or key aspect of a meeting) or longer (full lesson or meeting). The observation duration is dependent on the purpose of the evaluation.
  • can benefit school leaders and teachers, providing valuable collaborative professional learning conversations that stems from observation feedback. As a result, students benefit from the subsequent enhancement of practice.
  • can be structured or unstructured or contain a mix of both. They may include strategies such as:
    • classroom observations
    • peer observations
    • lesson walks
    • lesson studies
    • walkthroughs
    • instructional rounds
    • meeting observations


  • are a flexible approach to data collection, enabling both qualitative and quantitative data to be collected.
  • provide insight to other forms of evidence to build a more complete picture of the effectiveness of a strategy (for example: used in conjunction with document analysis of teaching and learning programs, and classroom observation or exit slip data from professional learning meetings to determine the effectiveness of curriculum implementation strategies).
  • enable actions and behaviours to be recorded as they happen and can be recorded via audio/visual methods. This removes reliance on memory or on people’s capacity to self-report what they do and how often they see or experience a behaviour or event.
  • can be used to determine relationships between people, activities, space and time.
  • The key to using observation data as evaluation evidence is to take a systematic and consistent approach as you collect, organise and analyse what is observed.
  • Careful planning is required. Being clear about the purpose, scope of the observation, who is observing, and when the observation will take place is fundamental to obtaining meaningful evaluation data.
  • Observations can be time consuming to organise, undertake and analyse data.
  • When more than one observer is involved, pre and post observation discussions to ensure consistency is essential.
  • Observations can be a low impact way to collect data. When planned appropriately, the observer may have only a minor effect on the activities or blend into the observation setting.
  • When not considered or planned for, observer effects can influence observational data (because teachers and students are aware that they are being observed). Reactive effects may include:The facilitator plays an important role. They should try to:
    • teacher or student anxiety, resulting in altered behaviour or reluctance to speak
    • teachers or students wanting to exhibit the best lesson/behaviour possible.

Observation – Template and Checklist

Schools may use the following template to contextualise, adapt and draw from to meet the needs of each school to undertake an observation. The observation checklist (DOCX 93.6 KB) is designed to assist schools with a process to consistently plan and implement (DOCX 93.7 KB) an observation to evaluate curriculum implementation initiatives.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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