Laboratory Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (LOPUS)

Developed by Jonathan B. Velasco, Adam Knedeisen, Dihua Xue, Trisha L. Vickrey, Marytza Abebe, and Marilyne Stains

Purpose To categorize TAs’ instructional behaviors, student behaviors and verbal interactions between TAs and students in laboratory courses.
Format Observation protocol
Duration N/A min
Focus Teaching (TA’s instructional behaviors, student behaviors, nature of verbal interactions between TA and students)
Level Graduate, Upper-level, Intermediate, Intro college, High school, Middle school, Other

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The following are some example categories in LOPUS from Velasco et al 2016.

J. Velasco, A. Knedeisen, D. Xue, T. Vickrey, M. Abebe, and M. Stains, Characterizing Instructional Practices in the Laboratory: The Laboratory Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM, J. Chem. Educ. 93 (7), 1191 (2016).
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Silver Validation
This is the second highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 5 of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Classroom behavior

Studied Using:

  • Iterative observations
  • Inter-rater reliability
  • Training materials

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

LOPUS was based on the COPUS observation protocol, but was further developed based on literature on laboratory practices, and observations of lab classrooms. Researchers wanted a tool that captured: "(1) instructional behaviors without a priori assumptions about criteria for quality teaching, (2) the behaviors of TAs and students, (3) verbal interactions between TAs and students, and (4) the nature of the content being discussed during these verbal interactions." Fifteen graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants were observed to develop the tool. The researchers calculated inter-rater reliability.  Researchers  derived descriptive statistics of the proportion of behaviors, calculated as percentages of 2 min intervals in a video during which individual behaviors were observed, and the proportion of codes describing the nature of verbal interactions. Hierarchical cluster analyses were also conducted in order to characterize commonalities in TAs’ instructional styles and nature of verbal interactions. (Velasco et al. 2016) 


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Typical Results

LOPUS data is presented as % segments observed doing any certain category. Researchers have categorized laboratory instructors into 4 different categories based on behavioral clusters. (Velasco et al 2016)

The most recent version of the LOPUS, released in 2016, is version 1.