• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


TEASDALE, Rachel, Geological & Environmental Sciences, CSU Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0205, BUDD, David, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2200 Colorado Ave, Boulder, CO 80309, CERVATO, Cinzia, Dept. of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, 253 Science I, Ames, IA 50011, IVERSON, Ellen, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057, KRAFT, Katrien J. van der Hoeven, Physical Science Department, Mesa Community College at Red Mountain, 7110 East McKellips Road, Mesa, AZ 85207, MANDUCA, Cathryn, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, MCCONNELL, David A., Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, MCDARIS, John R., Science Education Research Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, MURRAY, Daniel P., Department of Geosciences, Univ. of Rhode Island, 337 Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881 and SLATTERY, William, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Teacher Education, Wright State Univ, Dayton, OH 45435,

The Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP; Sawada et al., 2002) was designed to measure the quality of science and mathematics instruction in college and K-12 courses. The Geoscience RTOP Assessment Project is sponsored by On the Cutting Edge, a nationwide geoscience professional development program supported by NSF. This project investigates the use of the 25-question RTOP instrument to quantitatively characterize geoscience classroom environments on the basis of lesson design, student engagement in constructing their learning, student-instructor and student-student interaction, and content presentation. Scores represent the degree to which instructors utilize reform- based teaching practices (e.g., active learning) to create a student-centered learning environment. An initial set of 34 classroom observations included both large introductory classes for non-majors, small upper division courses for majors and different types of institutions including community colleges, 4-year institutions, and large research universities.

The Geoscience RTOP Assessment Project team developed an online resource to serve as a guide for instructors seeking to modify their classroom environments to incorporate teaching practices that have been demonstrated to improve student learning. We have developed a website to: 1) Describe the RTOP research project, 2) Summarize the research literature on the relationships between reform teaching and student learning, 3) Document the utility of the RTOP as a quantitative measure of reform teaching and 4) Demonstrate how RTOP scores can be utilized by geoscience faculty to assess their teaching practice.

The RTOP website includes data that documents scoring trends from RTOP observations for both high and low scoring classrooms, and a guide instructors can use to modify their teaching practice. These modifications may range from modest changes to existing teaching strategies to more in-depth classroom activities based on RTOP categories. The site includes examples of strategies from a range of sample classes similar to those taught at all types of higher education institutions. Simple scenarios are provided for each RTOP category along with data to explain common practices of student-centered classroom instructors.

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