GORP was originally designed to streamline the process of doing classroom observations following the Classroom Observations Protocol for Undergraduate Science (COPUS). It has since been generalized into a tool where a user can design their own observation protocol, or modify an existing protocol, and then provide a customized mobile-friendly interface for making observations and subsequently analyzing the gathered data. GORP makes it easy for events in the classroom, or other settings, to be observed, cataloged, and then analyzed for research on teaching or for an instructor's professional development.
For education researchers, teachers, and the students they serve it is important to understand the type and range of teaching activities employed in the classroom. When researchers at UC Davis wished to carry out large scale observations using the COPUS protocol (http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/resources/COPUS.htm) it became necessary to develop a digital system for carrying out observations, collecting data in a searchable database, and analyzing and visualizing that data. When presenting the tool to others in the education research community many people wished to carry out observations with other protocols or with slightly modified versions of the COPUS protocol. In response, GORP was developed as a generalized platform in which classroom observation protocols can be created, shared, customized, and carried out.
GORP was developed with ease-of-use as the primary concern. Classroom observations can involve tracking a series of events in rapid succession, possibly while simultaneous events are taking place that must also be tracked. With this consideration in mind, the observation interface of GORP was created to be as easy to use as a pen and paper, but more accurate. Additionally, to account for the varying network connectivity of different classrooms and campuses, GORP was designed so that network interruptions will not affect the observers’ ability to record data, and when the observer regains a network connection the recorded data will be saved to the server automatically.
GORP was developed as part of a Helmsley Trust grant entitled “Tools for Evidence Based Action (TEA)”, to share tools and foster collaboration between higher education institutions . GORP is currently being used by nine universities in the United States and Canada. Forty more universities have expressed interest in GORP and several expect to utilize GORP with their own protocols once the protocol editor is fully implemented. Over 1000 classroom observations have been made to date.
Several universities are already using GORP to conduct large scale classroom observations and analyze the results. Through our engagement with the TEA community and in our promotion of GORP we have raised awareness of the value of data related to teaching methodologies in understanding student engagement and performance, and have provided an easy way for this data to be gathered en-masse.
In the coming weeks, the GORP project team will be working with the TEA community to implement as many of the classroom observation protocols already in existence as possible. We will also identify the common visualizations and analyses that users of these protocols employ and add them to GORP so that they may be carried out automatically. By analyzing meta-information about which protocols are being used by what universities and for what type of classes, we hope to provide information to education researchers and instructors interested in doing classroom observations about what protocols are popular and best-suited for their needs. Ideally, through the use of GORP, protocols of greatest utility and actionability will proliferate and allow institutions to compare their findings in a consistent manner with high data integrity.