Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 10:05 AM


RYKER, Katherine1, MCCONNELL, David1, BRUCKNER, Monica Z.2, IVERSON, Ellen2 and MANDUCA, Cathryn2, (1)Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, (2)Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057,

The incorporation of reformed pedagogy has been shown to improve conceptual knowledge and attitudes in a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines, including the geosciences. Changing from traditional, teacher-centered to reformed, student-centered teaching practices can be a slow process. Such reforms are often only partially implemented and may take several years to be fully realized. Effective change in teaching practices are often preceded by a change in beliefs regarding the teaching and learning process, and the students’ role in the classroom. Fortunately, instructional beliefs are mutable and influenced by both professional and life experiences. The goal of this study is to describe the relationship between the teaching beliefs and practices of geoscience instructors, and how these may be influenced by professional development activities.

On the Cutting Edge (OtCE) uses the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) to characterize teaching practices in hundreds of geoscience classrooms in a range of institution types across the nation. We have conducted and analyzed interviews with a subpopulation of these participants using the Teacher Beliefs Interview (TBI). The TBI is a semi-structured interview with coding maps designed to capture the epistemological beliefs of teachers. Faculty members were selected to represent a range of RTOP scores.

We have found a positive correlation between reformed teaching beliefs and practices. Responses to questions about the instructor’s role and how students learn tended to be student-centered, while responses about how to maximize that learning and identify when it is occurring tended to be more teacher-centered. Instructors with more teacher-centered beliefs are more likely to emphasize lecturing and other traditional instructional practices. Instructors with more student-centered beliefs are more likely to incorporate inquiry-based, active learning teaching techniques in their classrooms. The observed connections between beliefs and practices can suggest topics that need specific attention in professional development programs.