ries I and II. More than half of all study participants did not change their practice from the first videotaped lesson to the next; 25 percent of instructors in categories I and II moved toward more learner-centered strategies from the first lesson to the next; and 15 percent of instructors who started in the more learner-centered categories moved toward more instructor-centered practices over time.
Multivariate analyses of these data showed that years of teaching experience and class size influence RTOP scores. For example, instructors with more teaching experience were less likely to engage with students and have them work in cooperative groups, leading to lower RTOP scores. In addition, larger class sizes were associated with lower RTOP scores (i.e., scores that involve more lecture) (Ebert-May, 2000). However, these and other variables explained only 25 percent of the variation in RTOP scores, leaving 75 percent of the variation unexplained. In Ebert-May’s view, additional research is required to better understand why teaching varies.
Cathy Manduca (Carleton College) spoke about her work with professional societies and at the departmental level to improve instruction in the geosciences. Data from the geosciences, she explained, indicate that faculty attend professional development workshops, learn new ideas there, and subsequently change their practice. Despite the success of professional development efforts, however, the geosciences community is frustrated that change is not happening quickly enough.
In Manduca’s view, it is possible to understand the change process by examining the cultures in which faculty members operate. She posited that faculty live in two different cultures—a disciplinary community, which emphasizes scientific research, and a broader institutional community, which is focused on the education enterprise. These cultures exert a strong influence on the extent to which faculty members change their teaching practice.
Discussing her work with professional societies, Manduca explained that uninformed faculty are at one end of the spectrum and those who actively research the impact of specific curriculum changes are at the other end. Informed faculty who make use of the research and observe how their teaching affects student learning are in the middle. Manduca’s efforts focus on disseminating information to increase the number of informed faulty. In contrast to other presenters at the workshop, she said that evidence alone is sufficient for geosciences faculty to change their practice.
Journal articles and meetings of professional societies, such as the American Geophysical Union, represent one vehicle for disseminating research and best practices to the geosciences community. On the Cutting