Quantifying the Effects of Discipline-Based Professional Development Programs on Undergraduate Geoscience Teaching

Thursday 2:15pm Ritchie Hall: 366


Karen Viskupic, Boise State University
Rachel Teasdale, California State University-Chico
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
Ellen Iverson, Carleton College
We investigated the impact of geoscience-specific professional development (PD) on undergraduate teaching by comparing instructor PD histories and classroom practices. Trained observers used the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) in 236 geoscience classes at both the introductory and upper-level. Total RTOP scores range from 13 to 89 (avg = 39.0), and were used to categorize classroom instruction as: Teacher Centered (≤30; 31% of observations), Transitional (31–49; 46%), or Student Centered (≥50; 22%).

For each observed instructor, we compiled a pre-observation history of participation in On the Cutting Edge, InTeGrate, and National Association of Geoscience Teachers PD. Instructors who attended at least one PD event (n=111) have higher average RTOP scores (44.5 vs. 34.2) and are more frequently observed teaching Student Centered classes (33% vs. 13%) than instructors with no PD (p < 0.001).

To examine the influence of workshop content on teaching practices, we compared RTOP scores
with instructor participation in workshops that could be aligned topically with observed courses. Each instructor with PD was classified as: having topically-aligned PD if the instructor attended a topical workshop and was observed teaching that same topic; having potentially topically-aligned PD if they attended a topical workshop but were observed teaching a different topic, or; having non-topically-aligned PD if they attended workshops on topics not associated with disciplinary content.

The number and alignment of PD events have an impact on RTOP score. Each PD event attended improves the RTOP score by 1.34 points; attending a topically-aligned PD event improves the RTOP score by 13.5 points (p<0.0001). Attending topical workshops is strongly correlated with teaching Student Centered classes. One topically-aligned workshop or two or more potentially topically-aligned workshops make you approximately 5.5 times more likely to teach a Student Centered class than those without that PD.

Presentation Media

Viskupic_EER2018_talk_RTOP (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 1.7MB Jul18 18)