Peer Instruction with ARSnova

Short explanatory video clip from the University Amberg-Weiden: Teaching Quality Pact: Peer Instruction as an example of a new teaching method

Peer Instruction, developed by Eric Mazur, is an empirically researched and proven teaching method to enable more interaction and involvement in large lectures. It replaces the conventional teacher-centered classroom instruction through partner and small group work, followed by a short conceptual question designed to give students frequent opportunities to apply their knowledge of the subject.

With Peer Instruction, the classic 90 minute lecture is structurally broken down into three to four conceptual questions, which are implemented in 4 phases:

  1. During a short lecture, students first take a few minutes to think about the presented question from the lecturer and then respond individually via the Audience Response System.
  2. If the percentage of correct answers lies between 30% and 70%, the students have to discuss their answers with their neighbor, and then try to convince one another of the correct choice. This is the purpose of Peer Instruction: the students teach each other.
  3. While the students are discussing their responses, the instructor walks along the rows of seats in the lecture hall and tries to pick out any incorrect responses or incorrect usages of concepts and terminology and clarifies by giving explanatory examples.
  4. After the peer-instruction-phase, a second round of voting on the students´ responses takes place. The instructor then unlocks the response statistics from round one and two, highlighting the correct answer. At the end of the phase, someone from the audience or the instructor himself/herself will give the correct answer to the question.

Experience of the Authors: In the summer term 2015, during an “inverted”  first semester course, I consistently applied the Peer Instruction method during almost every lecture. As an experienced E-Teacher (since the beginning of digitization of teaching) I must state, that Peer Instruction works. In each session, the students were able to work out the correct answer, mainly through discussions with the person sitting next to them. This “inverted” lecture was my best evaluated lecture in the last ten years.


Recording of a Peer Instruction Session: Eric Mazur shows interactive teaching

In support of the Peer Instruction Method, ARSnova offers 2 rounds of voting, each of which are time limited.

Description of the two round voting system with a countdown timer

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