• 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. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


MCCONNELL, David, Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, IVERSON, Ellen, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057, BUDD, David, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2200 Colorado Ave, Boulder, CO 80309, HENRY, Darrell, Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, KRAFT, Katrien J. van der Hoeven, Physical Science Department, Mesa Community College at Red Mountain, 7110 East McKellips Road, Mesa, AZ 85207, MCDARIS, John R., Science Education Research Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, MACDONALD, Heather, Department of Geology, College of William and Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187, MANDUCA, Cathryn, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, SROGI, LeeAnn, Department of Geology/Astronomy, West Chester Univ, 720 S Church St, West Chester, PA 19383-0001 and VISKUPIC, Karen, Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725,

A team of ten trained observers used the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP; Sawada et al., 2002) to characterize teaching in 34 college geoscience classrooms at 17 different institutions during spring 2011. Institutions included research (4) and comprehensive universities (5), community colleges (7), and private colleges (1). We reviewed classes ranging from large introductory courses serving non-majors to small upper level courses for majors. This is the first phase of an ongoing program to collect observations on classes throughout the US.

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.

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