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The Physics Teacher



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Physics | Science and Mathematics Education


As physics educators, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our practice. There are many different kinds of professional development opportunities that have been shown to help us with this endeavor. We can seek assistance from professionals, like mentor teachers or centers for faculty development, we can attend workshops to learn new curricula or pedagogical skills, and we can engage in learning communities to develop shared visions and become more reflective educators.1However, when these activities end, what can we do on our own to continue to improve? How can we track our improvement? And perhaps even most importantly, what can we do when these resources aren’t available to us? While publications like The Physics Teacher offer excellent pedagogical practices we can try out in the classroom, how do we get feedback on what we decide to implement? One way to continue to improve our practice is to develop habits of Scholarly Teaching, a practice of gathering data from one’s own class and analyzing it in the context of a question about teaching and learning, with the intention of improving teaching and learning outcomes.2 In this paper we describe a tool that gives an instructor access to data that describe how s/he spends time in the classroom. The Real-time Instructor Observing Tool (RIOT) is a free web application that allows the real-time classification of an instructor’s actions during a classroom observation. Immediately following an observation, the RIOT auto-generates charts and graphs that give instructors timely feedback on their teaching.3 Because RIOT offers objective data for easy self-reflection, it can be a powerful resource for professional development and reflective practice. While the RIOT can and has been used to collect data for research purposes,4 the RIOT can also be used for informal instructor professional development outside of a research setting. In this paper we describe how university and high school science instructors can use the RIOT in pairs to collect information about their classroom practices in order to inform and foster reflection on their teaching.


The following paper is a pre-print of an article published in the Physics Teacher, Vol 56, Issue 3 on February 16th, 2018. The Version of Record is available at this link: DOI: SJSU users: use the following link to login and access the article via SJSU databases.