SPOTing Effective Teaching

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Celeste Ma, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Research has shown that faculty discussions about teaching practice and engagement during faculty development programs have resulted in changes in teaching practice. Two desired outcomes of effective faculty development programs are increased ability to explain pedagogical approaches to teaching as well as an enhanced ability to reflect on teaching practice. We seek to determine whether engagement with the Student Participation Observation Tool (SPOT), an application allowing an observer to capture and categorize the nature and frequency of student classroom participation, will result in modifying instructors’ pedagogical discussions about their teaching practice. We designed a workshop series around participant use of the SPOT consisting of three 1.5 hour meetings and two in-class observations of participants’ teaching. The participants included six university STEM instructors. Participants completed a survey about workshop expectations including some generalized questions about their teaching practice. The data from these surveys were analyzed for this research. Between each of the three workshop meetings, classroom observations were conducted by pairs of participants; one teaching, one observing. Participants used SPOT to capture real-time, low inference classroom interactions. The SPOT data were used as the foundation for reflective discussions about desired shifts in participants’ teaching practice and occurred during workshop meetings. In particular we analyzed the participants’ incoming expectations regarding the workshop series in order to later investigate how participants’ pedagogical discussions shift as a result of using the SPOT in a workshop series context. Responses from the surveys were analyzed and themes from these responses developed. We found that faculty use a combination of observable practices to gauge the effectiveness of their teaching; some of which were correlated with elevated learning gains and others not. Generally, participants gauge student understanding based on their ability to answer questions about content. All participants appear to value student participation, however not all instructors describe how they allocate time for or motivate large numbers of students participate. Half of the participants use non-verbal cues such as body language (i.e., head nodding) and eye contact as evidence of student understanding. Our poster will focus on the analysis of the reflections instructors made before and after the use of SPOT in order to determine the usefulness of this application.