Peer instruction is a structure teaching technique that allows students to examine their own and their colleagues reactions to a concept question.
The process of reviewing one’s answer and compare it to others contributes significantly to the student learning as well as their engagement (Mazur 2012).
How does it work?
- Students individually consider the concept question and are allowed to take some time to ponder a response from a preselected set of answer options -or can add their own (see “Question” activity).
- Students work in a small group (3–4) to discuss their individual answers to the question and to arrive at consensus on the “correct” answer. In order to reach consensus, students must explain their own reasoning and problem solving in support of their answer using the Chat activity. Groups are given adequate time to discuss, debate, and “peer instruct” one another.
- After the chat discussion, students are then asked to answer the question a second time, individually.
- The entire class participates in discussion led by student explanations of their group’s findings, and the instructor clarifying or modelling as required.
- The last steps is for students to reflect and describe how they arrived to the correct answer and how it might have been different from their original answer.
How to do Peer Instruction with LAMS?
Outline of Activities
- Introduction to a “concept topic” — in this case Newton’s Third Law of Motion, based on Peer Instruction creator: Eric Mazur.
Using a NASA video that shows this concept in space. (Noticeboard(
- Present all the students a concept question based on the topic. Students get a few minutes to think, individually consider the concept question and choose one of the preselected answers (Voting tool).
At this stage, after the students select their answer choice, we do not display the results to students.
- Pairing students.
We group the students in teams of four students. (Grouping activity)
- Students get to share with within their team which option they selected and the rational behind their choice. Here’s where a fruitful peer-discussion started, hopefully allowing students to reach the correct answer based on the discussion. (Chat)
At this stage, you can intervene as facilitator suggesting and guiding the student discussion. For instance “I think your team is in the right direction, but have you consider how mass might affect motion?”.
- Asking the concept question again
After the team discussion, we now get the students to answer the same question individually again. But this time, after the students cast their answer vote, we allow them to view the voting results. (Voting tool)
Now you can start a full class discussion with your students to ensure that the concept is clear and any potential knowledge gaps or misconceptions are addressed. As much as you can, let the students to the explaining (ie: “Some of you chose option B. Can I get one of you who chose this option to explain why?”
- Final reflection
We ask each student (individually), in their own words, as to explain their choice in the previous activity and whether there they change their answer from previous voting. Additionally, if they did change their vote, what were the key concepts that were taken into account (or concept they didn’t considered previously).
For a step by step run of the learning design or to download it and adapt it to your own teaching, take a look at this card:
Description: Peer instruction is a structure teaching technique that allows students to examine their own and their…
- Mazur, E. (1997). Peer instruction: A user’s manual. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Confessions of a converted lecturer (Youtube)
- Peer learning is (website)
- Crouch, C. H., Watkins, J., Fagen, A.P., & Mazur, E. (2007). Peer instruction: Engaging students one-on-one, all at once, in Research-Based Reform of University Physics, edited by E. F. Redish and P. J. Cooney (American Association of Physics Teachers, College Park, MD, 2007), Reviews in PER Vol. 1
- Lambert, C. (2012). Twilight of the lecture. Harvard Magazine. (March-April).
- Simon, B., & Cutts, Q. (2012). Peer instruction: A teaching method to foster deep understanding. Communications of the ACM, 55(2), 27–29. doi:10.1145/2076450.2076459