Classroom Observation Project: Understanding and Improving Our Teaching

Evaluation of the On the Cutting Edge project to date has rested on self-reported data describing teaching practice. In order to verify these results and to better understand geoscience teaching nationwide, Cutting Edge is sponsoring a research project to observe geoscience teaching in classrooms across the US. This project will make use of the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP).

Karen Grove in the classroom

What is Reformed Teaching

Reformed teaching signals a paradigm shift from the traditional teacher-centered lecture-driven class to a student-centered, activity-based learning environment that typically includes multiple opportunities for collaboration among students.

Interpreting Your RTOP Scores

If you are a faculty member who has had one of our researchers observe your class, you can find information about the five components of the RTOP instrument that were used to calculate your score. You can find out how scores were determined as well as information on the RTOP instrument calibration.

Creating a Student-Centered Classroom

There are a number of things that faculty can do to make their classes more student-centered. This section of the website provides tips and advice for making each of the five subscales more student-centered. This information also helps faculty see where the low-hanging fruit is and what course changes will require more effort.


The research team has compiled a list of references that will be useful in understanding reformed teaching and the RTOP.

About this Project

Learn more about this effort to apply the RTOP to college geoscience classrooms and faculty.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education under grant #1022844.

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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