A PRELIMINARY SNAPSHOT OF GEOSCIENCE TEACHING AT US COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
The RTOP instrument is divided into five parts (Lesson Design, Propositional Knowledge, Procedural Knowledge, Student-Student Interaction, Student-Instructor Interaction), each scored on a 20-point subscale for a possible maximum score of 100. Scores for the 34 observed classes ranged from 14-79, with an average of 39 (+/-18). Training exercises were conducted to calibrate the scoring of observers using a standard rubric and three videos representing low, medium, and high scoring classes.
The observed instructors scored highest on the RTOP’s Propositional Knowledge subscale indicating strong conceptual understanding of the course subject area. High-scoring classes featured small-group exercises where students solved problems requiring higher-order reasoning skills. These classes often scored well on both the Student-Student and Student-Instructor Interaction subscales. Lower scores were recorded on the Procedural Knowledge and Lesson Design subscales which include opportunities for student reflection and the means students use to represent phenomena as well as the types of instructional strategies utilized in the classroom.
Scores related to teaching methods varied substantially with slightly higher averages in classes at two-year colleges and those taught by participants of the On the Cutting Edge professional development program or in classes taught by younger faculty. High scores are exclusively found in small to medium size classes. Low scores were obtained from classes of all types and from all institution types, years of teaching experience, and On the Cutting Edge participation. Scores for instructors teaching in introductory and upper division courses were similar.