Get Involved: Participate in the Cutting Edge RTOP project

The Classroom Observation project is collecting observations of teaching in a cross section of college geoscience courses across the U.S. This has the potential to become the most extensive observation of college and university teaching a STEM discipline and we would like you to be involved in this exciting project. Our goal is to observe a sufficiently large number of national geoscience courses to be able to characterize how we are teaching. This will allow us to assess the validity of the results of the 2009 geoscience faculty survey describing teaching methods and to better evaluate the impact of the On the Cutting Edge project.

Classroom Door
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You can get involved in two ways: either as a geoscience faculty member who is willing to be observed in one or more undergraduate geoscience courses, or as an undergraduate geoscience faculty member who is part of the trained team of observers:

Have your Classroom Observed

What is involved?

The observation would be conducted in an undergraduate-level geoscience course using the RTOP protocol which was designed to measure the quality of instruction in K-12 and college science and math courses. We will use RTOP to characterize teaching environments on items such as lesson design, student-instructor and student-student interaction, and content presentation. The faculty observer will travel to your institution to observe your class and to conduct a brief four-question interview with you in order to situate the observed class period within the course and to identify some aspects of your approach to teaching. Each participating instructor is also asked to complete a short online survey that helps compare the RTOP data with the results of the 2009 Cutting Edge geoscience faculty survey.

This is a research study, so our primary goal is to collect data that will be used anonymously and in aggregate. Your privacy is important to us. The notes taken by the faculty observer and the RTOP score (or any video produced for this scoring) will only be shared with the RTOP research team. Presentation of the material will be confined to project work groups, published reports, and professional presentations and names will not be identified.

What will you receive in return?

In return for your participation, you will receive your RTOP scores, describing how different components of your teaching fall on a spectrum ranging from traditional lecture to student-centered instruction. You will also receive information about the range of scores in the pool of classrooms we observe. We hope that it is an opportunity for you to learn more about your teaching style and that these insights may help you in achieve your personal teaching goals and, where appropriate, support efforts to meet or surpass institutional teaching standards.

If you are interested in being observed: Please complete this participation form and we will contact you to set up the observation.

Become a Certified RTOP Observer

What is involved?

Faculty selected to participate as observers are expected to participate in virtual training sessions. Training will require approximately 10-15 hours of work, spread over two weeks. The training tutorials involve using the RTOP instrument to analyze a series of online teaching videos and periodically discussing your results with an RTOP training mentor. Upon completion of the training we anticipate that you will complete at least 10 observations over the course of the following 18 months and submit all required data from those observations for inclusion in our data set (notes from the pre-observational interview and an annotated score sheet). On the Cutting Edge staff will work with you on setting up observations. A limited number of travel stipends are also available for certified RTOP observers who need to travel for their observations.

What will you receive in return?

If you complete the virtual training and become a certified Cutting Edge RTOP observer, you are eligible to receive a $200 stipend for each completed observation that contributes to the needed demographics in our data set. On the Cutting Edge staff will work with you to set up the observations and can help identify potential instructors for observations in your region. Observers are also eligible to become part of the research team engaged in analysis and publication of the data.

If you are interested in being trained to observe classrooms: Please complete this participation form (scroll down to the second half of the form) and we will contact you. If you are selected, we will work with you to set up your virtual training sessions so you can become a certified observer.

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