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Clickers - Facilitating peer instruction

Page history last edited by Tim Fahlberg 14 years, 3 months ago

HomeCPSBest Practices for Using Response Systems > Methods > Facilitating Peer Instruction     

TinyURL to this page: http://tinyurl.com/dzpocx

See Abrahamson, Mazur et al for the history and usage of this method.          


Facilitating PI is one of the most research proven ways of using clickers as it does such great things for improving student learning and getting students highly engaged in discussions that involve higher order thinking. 



  1. Ask a conceptual level multiple choice question with clickers
  2. End the question and display the graph without showing the correct answer.
    1.  If you can see from the graph that 40% - 80% of students have chosen the correct answer then
      1. Ask students to try to convince the person next to them or their team that what they chose is correct. 
      2. Meanwhile circulate around the room listening to conversations to pick up what they’re saying. 
      3. At some point stop the discussion and ask “Would anyone like to change their mind?”
      4. If even just one person says or indicates they would then you ask the same question again.
      5. Typically you’ll see the graph change in a positive way and then you can use the clicker feature to call on a student or students at random to explain their reasoning.
      6. Eventually show the right answer and potentially have more classroom discussion.
      7. When you check learning a week, a month, or a year later you’ll find that students retained more because of the peer instruction they got to learn from.  It won’t come as any surprise to you that students can learn a lot from each other … it just turns out that by having students commit to answers and then having them back them up and be actively engaged in discussion about them with their peers is a great thing.
    2. If less than 40% of students chose the correct answer then
      1. You know you’d better just reteach the concept because you really don't want students talking to each other out of ignorance.
      2. You might announce the correct answer and ask the students to then discuss with each other why it's correct.
      3. You might ask some leading questions to direct them to the correct answer and then re-poll the students.
    3. If more than 80% of students chose the correct answer then you know you probably don’t need them to talk to each other but
      1. You may still want to use the clicker “Choose a random student” feature one or more times to call on students to have them explain their thinking.
      2. Follow this up with whole class discussion.

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