2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Classroom Observation Methodologies to Assess Student Engagement

LUDWIG, Matthew A.1, PETCOVIC, Heather2 and FYNEWEVER, Herb1, (1)The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 3325 Wood Hall, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, (2)Department of Geosciences and The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 1187 Rood Hall, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, matthew.a.ludwig@wmich.edu

Prior research has established clear connections between carefully implemented formative assessment strategies and student achievement, as well as between student motivation and academic achievement. In addition, other studies have provided theoretical support for assessment for learning (AfL) techniques by making connections to positive attributes related to motivation. Particularly those strategies which promote mastery oriented learning behaviors including self assessment, risk taking, and perseverance in spite of perceived obstacles. Our project utilizes a quasi-experimental design to explore the effects of AfL teaching strategies on student achievement and motivation in an intro-level conceptual earth science course designed for pre-service elementary educators.

One of three complementary measures of student motivation will be classroom observations of student engagement. We have adapted two existing observation protocols to achieve this goal. The modified at-task observation (MATO) protocol is used to code and record individual student behaviors using a carefully defined set of characteristics that quantify student engagement. MATO observations provide a dynamic, quantitative measure of the level of student engagement during classroom activities and can be utilized in lecture or laboratory setting. MATO observations are completed and analyzed (in real-time) using a standard spreadsheet program on a laptop computer. Preliminary reliability tests indicate a high level of inter-rater agreement. The Verbal Flow Observation (VFO) protocol captures student and instructor contributions and interaction during whole-class discussion using a set of predefined characteristics. VFO observations provide a quantifiable record of student engagement during discussion and compliment MATO observations. Sample MATO and VFO data sets will be shared along with potential analysis techniques.