Paper No. 244-12
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM
ON THE CUTTING EDGE: COMBINING WORKSHOPS AND ON-LINE RESOURCES TO IMPROVE GEOSCIENCE TEACHING
Established in 2002 with funding from NSF, more than 3000 individuals have participated in On the Cutting Edge (CE) professional development activities. The CE website, comprised of 5000+ web pages addressing quality teaching in geoscience, had more than 1 million users in 2013. A national survey of geoscience faculty shows that those who have both attended one or more events and report using the website are 1.5 times more likely to spend more than 20% of a course period on activities, questions or discussion. These results are borne out by more than 200 observations of instructors teaching a variety of geoscience courses at all types of institutions using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) protocol. These data show that those who have participated in one or more CE events and use the website have average RTOP score of 49, significantly higher (more than 15 points) than the average score of faculty who have not participated in CE events and report having not used the website. Interviews of participants shed light on the roles the workshop and website are playing in supporting strong teaching. Participants credit their participation in CE workshops with shifting their approach to teaching from teacher-centered to student-centered, providing an introduction to the world of educational research, introducing them to new ideas and strategies for teaching, and fostering increased motivation and enthusiasm to pursue changes in instruction. They indicate that they use the website to find information on how others are teaching as well as ideas for specific activities or courses. Taken together, these data show that the combination of workshops and online resources supports use of research-based teaching methods that increase opportunities for students to learn in classrooms. The CE program is now part of the NAGT professional development programming which includes face-to-face, traveling, and virtual workshops for faculty and geoscience programs of all types. Funding for these programs currently comes from NSF, NAGT, GSA, AGU, and individual donations to the NAGT Professional Development Fund.