GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 104-8
Presentation Time: 10:05 AM


VISKUPIC, Karen1, TEASDALE, Rachel2, RYKER, Katherine3, MCFADDEN, Rory R.4, FARTHING, Dori J.5, IVERSON, Ellen6, BRUCKNER, Monica Z.6, MANDUCA, Cathryn6 and MCCONNELL, David7, (1)Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725, (2)Geological & Environmental Sciences, CSU Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0205, (3)Geography and Geology, Eastern Michigan University, 301W Mark Jefferson, Ypsilanti, MI 48197, (4)Department of Geology, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN 56082, (5)Department of Geological Sciences, SUNY-Geneseo, 1 College Circle, Geneseo, NY 14454, (6)Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057, (7)Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 8208, Raleigh, NC 27695,

We investigated the impact of geoscience-specific professional development (PD) on undergraduate geoscience teaching by comparing instructor PD histories and classroom observations. Trained observers used the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) in 236 classes between 2008 and 2016. Observed classes, both introductory and upper-level, were taught by faculty of diverse rank, years of experience, and institution type. Total RTOP scores range from 13 to 89 (avg = 39.0), and do not correlate with variables such as class size or course level. Classroom instruction was categorized based on total RTOP score as: Teacher Centered (≤30; 31% of observations), Transitional (31–49; 46% of observations), or Student Centered (≥50; 22% of observations).

For each instructor we compiled a pre-observation history of participation in On the Cutting Edge (CE), InTeGrate, and National Association of Geoscience Teachers PD, collectively referred to as “Geo PD,” a minimum estimate of PD. Instructors who attended at least one Geo PD event (n=110) have higher average RTOP scores (44.2 vs. 34.5) and are more frequently observed teaching Student Centered classes (33% vs. 14%) than instructors with no Geo PD. Participation in Geo PD correlates with more Student Centered instruction, but instructors with and without Geo PD teach in all three instructional categories, confirming the multifaceted nature of teaching reform.

To examine the influence of workshop content on teaching practices, we compared RTOP scores with instructor participation in CE teaching workshops (Teaching X) that focused on specific courses or topics such as mineralogy, hydrogeology, and introductory geology. 17% of instructors who participated in Geo PD but did not attend a Teaching X workshop were observed teaching Student Centered classes (n=60; avg score = 36.3), 38% of instructors who attended a Teaching X workshop but were observed teaching a different topic taught Student Centered classes (n=29; avg score = 43.4), and 71% of instructors who attended a Teaching X workshop and were observed teaching the same topic taught Student Centered classes (n=21; avg score = 55.6). We interpret these results to indicate the effectiveness of Teaching X workshops in promoting reformed teaching, including the transfer of workshop content across topics.