Saturday, June 28, 2014

Peer instruction briefly explained

Peer instruction is an alternative to the traditional lecture an was invented by physics professor Eric Mazur at Harvard.  You can read about how I use peer instruction here.

The "mechanics" of peer instruction is very simple:
1. Pose a (multiple choice) question to the class.  

2.* The students vote on the answer using clickers or e-clickers.  I use Socrative.  Mazur advocates that students not be allowed to discuss before the first vote. I encourage students to discuss right away.

3. If the majority (roughly >75%) vote correctly, briefly explain the correct answer and move on to the next question

4. If 40-75% vote correctly, ask the student to find someone who has voted different than themselves and convince them that their right, then revote.

5. Of <40% answer the question correctly, give a detailed explanation of the problem and solution.

The advantages of peer instruction
* The students are doing something actively rather than sitting passively

* They have an easier time learning from their peers who are at the same "level"

* Good peer instruction questions focus on conceptual understanding, which is rarely addressed in homework

* The teacher gets valuable feedback on what the students know and don't know

This post is part of an ongoing series of post on teaching tools and tips collected here.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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