CONNECTING BELIEFS TO ACTION: HOW GEOSCIENCE FACULTY PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENT IMPACT TEACHING
We conducted and analyzed 34 interviews with geoscience faculty whose classrooms were observed using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) as part of Cutting Edge’s Classroom Observation Project. Faculty were selected to represent a range of RTOP scores and institution types. Two semi-structured protocols were used to explore different themes related to the professional environment. The Teacher Beliefs Interview (TBI) was used to capture the epistemological beliefs of teachers, including how faculty view their role in the classroom, how they believe students best learn science, and ways they maximize that student learning. A separate interview protocol was developed to identify what changes instructors make to their teaching, what barriers and motivations influence those changes, and the potential influence that departmental, institutional, and disciplinary activities play in these changes. We compare what faculty describe in interviews with what was observed in the classroom.
Even geoscience faculty who recognize the value of student-centered methods in helping students learn science struggle to incorporate those methods in their classrooms. Lessons learned from this study about teaching beliefs, barriers, and the role of professional environments can be applied by individuals trying to foster student-centered teaching environments in their departments, as well as those leading professional development efforts.