Cutting Edge began conducting a comprehensive review of all the teaching collections in 2011 with the goal of developing a comprehensive and coherent set of teaching activities that will serve the geoscience education community for years to come. The initial implementation of the review process was in conjunction with the Teaching Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry in the 21st Century workshop and has grown, with the adoption of the On the Cutting Edge program by NAGT, to cover Earth education materials hosted by SERC and found in the Teach the Earth portal. The process involves review camps, largely conducted during the annual Earth Educator's Rendezvous where reviewers evaluate a set of teaching activities against a rubric. There are five elements of each activity that get reviewed during the process:
- scientific veracity
- alignment of goals, activity, and assessment
- pedagogical effectiveness
- robustness (usability and dependability of all lesson components)
- completeness of the ActivitySheet web page for the activity
Reviews are conducted online via a web-based management tool, with each participant being assigned 5-10 activities to review. As the participants do their reviews, they enter scores for each element and provide constructive comments to help the author address any noted deficiencies. Each activity receives two independent reviews. The review process is managed by NAGT appointed editors from the community. The editors maintain communications with the reviewers to ensure that the process moves ahead smoothly. The editor has the ultimate responsibility for assigning the final ratings and communicating the activity authors. Based on the results of the reviews, each activity receives one of four possible ratings:
- Exemplary: Activities in the Exemplary Collection have received Exemplary or Very Good scores in all five categories and must have been rated Exemplary in at least 3 of the 5. It is expected that no more than 10-20% of the activities in the collection would be awarded an Exemplary rating in this process. Aggregate scores of 18-20 are required.
- Reviewed: Activities in the Reviewed Collections have received positive reviews in all five categories, consisting of mostly of Very Good scores with possible Exemplary or Adequate scores in one or more areas. Authors with activities in this collection will receive recommendations from the reviewers and associate editors for ways of improving their activity such that it can be brought into the Exemplary Collection. Scores of 12-17 are required.
- Activity Idea: An activity with this rating contains the nucleus of a good teaching activity in the materials that were submitted, but in its current form does not contain sufficient information to be able to be widely used in geoscience classes. Authors will be encouraged to invest energy in further developing the activity so that it become part of the Reviewed Collection. These are nucleus of good ideas that could be further developed.
- Deaccession: These activities contain serious deficiencies which would be difficult or impossible to remedy. They will be removed from the teaching activities collection entirely.
These rating are then reflected on the original web pages describing the activities. They are also displayed in search returns and highly rated activities are given more prominence in those search returns. The set of exemplary activities is also highlighted as its own distinct collection. View Exemplary Activity Collection »