RIOT for Education Reform!

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Stephanie Lorelli, Department of Physics and Astronomy at San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Research has shown that interactive engagement and other student-centered pedagogies are effective at increasing student performance. However many instructors have difficulty implementing these techniques. The Real-time Instructor Observing Tool (RIOT) is an interactive web application that allows an observer to categorize teacher actions and interactions with students in real-time. The RIOT was developed to capture the nature and quantity of teacher actions, particularly those designed to promote interactive engagement with students. RIOT is a tool that can provide instructors and researchers alike with meaningful information about classroom activities. The RIOT is different than other observation protocols because the data collection categories are objective (i.e., either do or do not occur), are low inference, and observations are collected in real-time. The RIOT also provides the instructor with an detailed and illustrative representation of exactly how time was spent engaging in particular activities throughout class. For example, by looking at a time-stamped plot, instructors might find that they spend the first 25 minutes of a particular class lecturing, followed by another 25 minutes of group work, where interactions with different groups are categorized as explaining, dialoguing, or observing. This allows an instructor to engage in a data-driven reflection on their teaching practice.  In order to determine if 1) RIOT is currently an effective tool for teacher reflection, and 2) if there are changes we can make to RIOT in order to improve its usefulness in this regard, we issued a survey to all past and current RIOT users. Seventy-two RIOT users were identified through the administrator privileges of the RIOT application. E-mail messages were sent to each of these users requesting participation in a survey about RIOT use.  We achieved a 20% response rate, which, while low, is typical. The majority of RIOT users agree that the tool was easy to use and useful. However many would appreciate a more adaptable tool that allows them to customize observables to the unique features of their classroom contexts. Several instructors indicated that less student-instructor interaction is happening in their classrooms than expected. Encouragingly, a few RIOT users have reported resulting changes in teaching practice. Our poster will describe the nature of the RIOT and the complete results from the survey data on its useage. We will also describe upgrades we will make to the RIOT based on feedback from the survey.