15-Minute Peer Instruction Activity Outline

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"Peer Instruction" (web page) from PhysPort outlines what "peer instruction" is as a teaching method as well as why (and why not) an instructor might choose to use it.

  • It also provides a detailed outline for a 15-minute sample activity outline based on peer instruction. 

1. What Is Peer Instruction?

  • "Small group discussion of conceptual questions interspersed with lectures, increasing engagement and providing formative feedback on student thinking."
  • "Students first answer questions individually with classroom response system, then discuss with their neighbors."

2. Why Use It?

  • "Peer Instruction is an easy way to add interactivity to a traditional lecture course without making drastic changes."
  • "It can get your students engaged and talking, and help you learn and respond to what your students are thinking, both of which can lead to improved student learning."
  • Useful for developing "conceptual understanding, problem-solving skills, making real-world connections, using multiple representations, and metacognition"
  • Research is solid for peer instruction improving improvement in student performance. 

3. Why Not Use It?

  • "Peer Instruction is a band-aid on a traditional lecture course structure, which is not ideal for student learning."
  • "If you have the opportunity to make a more drastic change to your course structure, or to engage students in working on longer and more meaningful problems, consider doing so."

4. Activity Outline

Presentation of a Topic in Peer Instruction ~15 min
Mini-lecture 7-10 min
Question posed 1 min
Students think quietly on their own 1-2 min
Students record/report initial answers <1 min
Students discuss their answers in small groups 2-4 min
Students record/report initial answers <1 min
Feedback to teacher: tally of answers <1 min
Explanation/discussion of correct answer 2+ min
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