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André Bresges and Kathleen Falconer, Universität zu Köln and State University New York at Buffallo

Saturday, the 24th of June 2017, 10.00 – 13.30


Active Learning in Lab Classes - and how to support it and evaluate it with digital media

Abstract: We present preliminary results of our “Transatlantic Design and Action Research Partnership” in Form of a hands-on Workshop. Participants will learn about the “Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol” (RTOP) and work both with the original US Version and its German translation.

In Design Based Research (DBR), the development and the research parts take place through continuous cycles of design, enactment, analysis, and redesign. Research on designs must lead to sharable theories - so-called “Proto-Theories”, in analogy to the “Prototypes” of product designers - that help communicate relevant implications to practitioners and other educational designers. Action research (AR) is a process used to understand and improve practice in a professional context, usually education.

AR is a systematic, result driven, reflective methodology by which practitioners (classroom teachers, university professors, educational researchers, etc.) can improve their practice and actions. Like DBR, AR is a cyclical process, which usually consists of five steps: identification of the problem, collection of data, interpreting data and designing an action, implementation of the action and evaluation and reflection on the action, then the process repeats.

Design Based Research and Actions Research are very similar processes and reliant upon high quality data to make the research work. RTOP is used as a high quality means to characterize the instructional practice. Thus, the development relies on methods that can document the intended function of the design intervention, the structure of the educational design, the behavior of the participants, and connect the process of enactment to outcomes of interest.

We demonstrate and practice how to use the Reformed Teaching Protocol for this task.

The Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) was developed by the Evaluation Facilitation Group (Piburn, Sawada, et. al. 2000, Sawada, Piburn, et. al. 2002) to measure the degree of reform of a class. RTOP assesses four major pedagogical domains: (1) lesson design and implementation; (2) propositional and procedural knowledge; (3) communicative interactions; and (4) student-teacher relationships. The RTOP instrument is focused on science and mathematics instruction from the K-20 classroom. The focus of RTOP is exclusively on reform rather than general classroom characteristics such as classroom management, lesson closure, etc. While RTOP requires intensive training, the instrument is quick to administer, has a high inter-rater reliability and is correlated to student conceptual gains. It has been used in many programs, including PhysTEC, AAPT’s pre-service teacher preparation program. The RTOP assessment program served as a model for the UTOP, developing by the UTeach program and used nationally. RTOP has also been used as a tool to foster reflection and change in practice (MacIsaac, et. al, 2001, Amrein-Beardsley & Osborn Popp, 2012).

We will apply RTOP on several simple lab experiments that are conducted by the participants hands-on. Participants will divide into “student” and “observer” groups, alternating after each lab session block, and try to describe and assess the impact of active learning strategies on students in Lab Sessions. Digital Video Recording will be used both by the “student group” to document the outcome of their experiment, and by the “observer” group for analysis and to add visual evidence to their assessment. Participants should be consent with being filmed during the workshop, with the videos being used for assessment practice during the workshop and deleted immediately afterwards.