Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mazur's Peer Instruction

A Harvard lecturer in physics, Eric Mazur, discovered that his students were not as knowledgeable about physics as he had hoped, even when they scored well on in-class tests.  He developed a classroom technique that uses “clickers” – handheld classroom response devices – to ensure deep, persistent learning. This technique requires students to first commit to an answer, and then to convince their fellow students that their answer is correct.  This simple technique has improved results for Mazur’s students, something he proves with quantitative data collected over 20 years. The technique is easily adapted for most disciplines. The process is outlined in the following flow-chart.

You will need some equipment to make this technique work. If you don’t have access to classroom clickers, prepare pieces of coloured card. Then, when you ask your question, students respond either by clicking the handheld device (which will throw up a neat histograph on the projected screen), or by holding up the relevant coloured card (e.g. red for A, green for B, purple for C or red for YES, blue for NO), which will allow you to scan the room and make a decision about which step you will take next.

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