Getting the most out of peer instruction

Peer instruction is a powerful, evidence-based instructional strategy that supports active learning in all sizes of classes. Typically in peer instruction, every 15-20 minutes,

  1. the instructor poses a conceptually challenging, multiple choice question
  2. students think about the question on their own and vote for one of the choices using some kind of audience response tool
  3. students turn to their neighbors and discuss the question and their answers
  4. students may vote a second time, depending on the nature of the question
  5. the instructor leads a class-wide discussion where students share their thinking, finishing with
  6. the instructor models expert-like thinking and confirms why the right answers are right and the wrong answers are wrong

This can take anywhere from 2 to 10 or more minutes, depending on the question, the answers, and the richness of the discussion.…

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The Power of Misconception

“Misconception” is one of those words that makes you slump your shoulders and sigh. It’s not inspiring like “creativity” or “glee.” In fact, in education circles we often resort to “alternate conception” so we’re not starting the conversation at a bad place.…

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A Tale of Two Comets: Evidence-Based Teaching in Action

Comet McNaught

Comet McNaught wow'd observers in the Southern Hemisphere in 2007. (Image by chrs_snll on flickr CC)

We often hear about “evidence-based teaching and learning.” In fact, it’s a pillar of the approach to course development and transformation that we follow in the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative.…

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