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FAQ on Peer Instruction

How Do Your Students Share Their Answers with the Teacher?
The sharing of their answer can be done with technology like electronic "clickers", cell phones, an iPad app, or website, but it does not need to be done with technology.  It could be done with students using a small dry erase board, each student having a set of index cards with each card having either an "A", "B", "C", or "D" on it or even students putting one figure up for "A", two figures up for "B" and so on. The important element is that students "lock in" an answer before sharing begins.

Peer Instruction in Action

What Are the Student Discussions Like During the

Peer Instruction Process.
The video to the right shows students discussing a question during the Peer Instruction part of class. 
There are multiple discussions going on at the same time (a typical classroom), but if one focuses on listening to a single discussion, it may be easier to follow.  The whole video is helpful, but segment 1:40 to 2:10 is great evidence of why Peer Instruction works so well.

Why Do We Want Students to Share Their Answer With the Teacher? 

Student share so the teacher can see the growth in student understanding of the material.  But if less than 30%

of the students get the initial question correct, the teacher should probably do a brief lesson on the concept since so few students understand it.  If you try to do the peer instruction process with a class in which less than 30% of the students have the correct answer, you do not have a big enough share of the students with the correct answer to help the rest of the students to jump from not understanding to understanding.  If more than 70% of the students answered the initial question correct, you can briefly discuss what the correct answer is and why since most had the correct answer.  Doing the peer instruction process and discussion on a question in which more than 70% had the correct answer does not work well since most students will have the same answer and you will not get the good discussion that occurs when only half the students have the correct answer.  Ideally, you want to be in the "Golden Range" of 30% to 70% of the students answering the initial question correctly.  When you are in this "Golden Range," you are able to get in-depth and rich classroom discussions where students are really engaged in the learning process.

Advantages of the Peer Instruction Flipped Learning Model
  1. The Peer Instruction Flipped Learning model is a student centered learning model.
  2. Students are actively engaged in the learning process.
  3. Students are getting at their thought process and reasons which helps develop higher order thinking skills.
  4. Students are putting their thinking into words as they are discussing their thought process.  It is one thing to answer a question correctly, but it takes the learning to a deeper level when you need to verbalize your thought process.
  5. Students are emotionally engaged in the learning process since they are trying to defend "their answer."  It is a matter of personal pride trying to prove that you are right.

How Do You Develop or Find Good Peer Instruction Questions?

  1. Some purchased curriculums come with multiple choice questions in a test bank or in the additional resources.
  2. If your subject is one that is similar to an AP subject, you may find some good questions on old AP tests.
  3. Search online for possible resources.
  4. Review your old tests and identify questions that students have struggled with in the past.
  5. Use questions similar to the questions that students struggle with on the daily assignments.
  6. If your subject is mathematics, use Kuta Software (a mathematics problem generator) to make multiple choice questions.
  7. If you want to use multiple choice questions but you can not find any using the above options or finding any online, try the following process:
    • Present a good open ended question.
    • Collect all the answers given by students.
    • Complete an item analysis of all the answers given. 
    • The correct answer, along with the top three incorrect answers identified by the item analysis, will be your multiple choice options the next time you teach the course.