Paper No. 19
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


BRUCKNER, Monica Z.1, IVERSON, Ellen1, MANDUCA, Cathryn A.1, MCCONNELL, David A.2, BARTLEY, Julie K.3, FARTHING, Dori J.4, TEASDALE, Rachel5 and VISKUPIC, Karen6, (1)Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057, (2)Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, (3)Geology Department, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN 56082, (4)Department of Geological Sciences, SUNY-Geneseo, 1 College Circle, Geneseo, NY 14454, (5)Geological & Environmental Sciences, CSU Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0205, (6)Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725,

On the Cutting Edge, an NSF-supported national geoscience professional development program, is using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP; Swada, et al., 2002) instrument to characterize the degree to which geoscience classrooms across the country are student-centered. The 25 question RTOP instrument characterizes teaching environments on lesson design, student-instructor and student-student interaction, and content presentation. The instrument characterizes a spectrum of classes from traditional, lecture-based teaching to reformed, student-centered teaching. The observation team includes 25 trained observers. The current dataset includes more than 100 classroom observations from a variety of institution types and range of class sizes, encompassing both introductory courses and advanced courses for geoscience majors. A mix of early career, mid-career, and veteran teachers are included in the study. Observations are limited to one class session and do not include laboratories or field activities.

In addition to the observation results, the study uses self-report data in an attempt to describe the changes in how faculty teach after participating in On the Cutting Edge workshops and/or using the Cutting Edge website. Preliminary results suggest that those faculty who attended workshops or use the website have a higher RTOP score, indicating a more student-centered approach to teaching, than those who have not participated in a workshop or used the website. Furthermore, those who participated in a workshop and/or use the website report seeking information on different teaching methods from sources outside their department (e.g. from faculty at other institutions, professional meetings, publications, and on the web) more frequently than those who have not participated or used the website. These results suggest that those faculty who participate in On the Cutting Edge are more likely to seek out and be open to changes in their teaching approaches, are more willing to take a student-centered approach to teaching, and may use the networks created through their participation in Cutting Edge events to learn about what others are doing in their classroom. To learn more about the Cutting Edge RTOP project or how to get involved, see: