Peer Instruction

Overview
Implementation Guide

Resources & Training

Book: E. Mazur, Peer Instruction: A User's Manual (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, 1997). Mazur's book contains an introduction to the method, an overview of the research behind it, directions for implementation, and a library of ConcepTests.

Review Article: C. Crouch and E. Mazur, “Peer Instruction: Engaging Students One-on-One, All at Once,” in Research-Based Reform of University Physics (2007), Vol. 1. This article contains an introduction to the method, an overview of the research behind it, and directions for implementation.

Blog: Turn to Your Neighbor is the official Peer Instruction blog, with many suggestions from the developers about how to implement Peer Instruction effectively.

Online Community: Peer Instruction Network is a global community where you can connect with other Peer Instruction users, share tips, and learn more about implementing Peer Instruction.

Online Clicker Resource: The University of Colorado Science Education Initiative has developed an online guide to using clickers in STEM classrooms, including suggestions for effective implementation, videos, a podcast, and links to other resources.

Video: Eric Mazur discusses his experience creating Peer Instruction:

Where to Find Peer Instruction questions

Below is a list of online databases of Peer Instruction questions. You can also find questions by googling "ConcepTest", "concept test", or "clicker question".

Learning Catalytics (physics and many other sciences)
Developed by Eric Mazur's group at Harvard. Contains a database including all ConcepTests developed by the Mazur group along with many contributed by adopters of Peer Instruction. Registration is required, but it is free and anyone can register.

University of Colorado Concept Test database (physics at all levels)
Clicker questions and course materials from a variety of lower division and upper division physics courses at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Most can be downloaded without registering. A few require a password, which can be obtained via email.

Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative Course Materials system (physics and many other sciences)
A growing collection of course materials from the University of Colorado Science Education Initiative (CU-SEI) and the University of British Columbia Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI). There are numerous clicker questions for Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology and Geological Sciences, as well as clicker questions in some of the other disciplines.

Physics clicker question sequences from Ohio State University (introductory physics)
These clicker question sequences were developed and researched by the Ohio State University Physics Education Research Group. Requires a password, which can be obtained via email.

University of Maryland Peer Instruction question database (introductory physics):
ConcepTests developed by the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Maryland. Anyone can access these questions.

SERC concept test examples (mostly geoscience, some other sciences including physics)
A collection of concept tests from the SERC Pedagogy in Action site at Carlton.  Anyone can access these questions.

Chemistry ConcepTests from the University of Wisconsin (chemistry)
For General, Organic, Analytical, Inorganic, Physical, and Biochemistry. Also includes explanations on how to use them effectively, and experiences of educators. Anyone can access these questions.

Chemistry ConcepTests from Brandeis University (chemistry)
For General Chemistry, created by the Herzfeld Group. Anyone can access these questions.

Question resource list from Project MathQUEST at Carroll College (math and statistics)
Links to question collections for many college/university level math and statistics courses, links to publications on classroom voting in mathematics, and links to clicker companies.

AAAS Science Assessment page
The assessment items on this website can also be used as clicker questions for middle school through intro university; they are designed to test student understanding and common misconceptions in the earth, life, physical sciences, and the nature of science. Anyone can access these questions.

Clicker Questions for use with PhET Interactive Simulations (physics and many other sciences)
Browse through this collection of clicker questions by selecting "CQs" for Type. These questions are designed to be used with PhET simulations - a collection of free, research-based interactive simulations that can be downloaded or run online, developed by the University of Colorado PhET team. Anyone can access these questions.

ClassAction Questions and Interactives from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (astronomy)
ClassAction modules consist of astronomy questions and resources designed to encourage student engagement in the classroom. Many questions are permutable, and incorporate animations and images. Anyone can access these questions.

Paul Green’s Astronomy ConcepTest database (astronomy)
A library of ConcepTests for introductory college astronomy containing several hundred questions. To access the database, you must submit questions to add.

Suggestions for how to write Peer Instruction questions

Good questions are a crucial component of Peer Instruction. Most instructors use some combination of using questions that others have written and writing their own. Here are some suggestions for writing your own:

  • Questions should require conceptual understanding to answer, rather than simply asking students to perform calculations or recall factual information.
  • Questions may be designed to elicit specific student difficulties, either from the physics education research literature, or from your own experience with students.
  • When grading exams or homework, every time you see a mistake, write down that mistake, then use it as a wrong answer in a concepTest.
  • During a concepTest, ask students to draw a diagram, then walk around and look at their diagrams, and draw what you see on a transparency.
  • For more suggestions, see the Science Education Initiative Clicker Resource Guide, this post on writing ConcepTests from the Peer Instruction blog, or Beatty, Gerace, Leonard, and Dufresne 2006.

References

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