Peer instruction

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Peer instruction is an evidence-based, interactive teaching method popularized by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur in the early 1990s.[1] Originally used in many schools, including introductory undergraduate physics classes at Harvard University, peer instruction is used in various disciplines and institutions around the globe. It is a student-centered approach that involves flipping the traditional classroom by moving information transfer out and moving information assimilation, or application of learning, into the classroom. There is some research that supports the effectiveness of peer instruction over more traditional teaching methods, such as pure lecture.[2]

Peer instruction as a learning system involves students preparing to learn outside of class by doing pre-class readings and answering questions about those readings using another method, called Just in Time Teaching.[3] Then, in class, the instructor engages students by posing prepared conceptual questions or ConcepTests that are based on student difficulties. The questioning procedure outlined by Eric Mazur is as follows:

  1. Instructor poses question based on students' responses to their pre-class reading
  2. Students reflect on the question
  3. Students commit to an individual answer
  4. Instructor reviews student responses
  5. Students discuss their thinking and answers with their peers
  6. Students then commit again to an individual answer
  7. The instructor again reviews responses and decides whether more explanation is needed before moving on to the next concept.[1][4]

Peer instruction is now used in a range of institutional types[5][6] around the globe[7][8] and in many other disciplines, including philosophy,[9] psychology,[10] geology,[11] biology,[12] math,[13] computer science[14] and engineering.[8]


  1. ^ a b Eric Mazur (1997). Peer Instruction: A User's Manual Series in Educational Innovation. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ Archived 2011-10-09 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ C. Crouch & E. Mazur (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten Years of Experience and Results, Am. J. Phys., v69, 970-977
  3. ^ G. Novak et al., (1999). Just-in-Time teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ
  4. ^ C. Turpen and N. Finkelstein (2010). The construction of different classroom norms during Peer Instruction: Students perceive differences, Physical Review Special Topics, Physics Education Research,v6, n2
  5. ^ A. P. Fagen, C. H. Crouch & E. Mazur (2002). Peer Instruction: Results from a Range of Classrooms Phys. Teach., v40, 206-209 Archived 2012-04-01 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ N. Lasry, E. Mazur & J. Watkins (2008). Peer Instruction: From Harvard to Community Colleges, Am. J. Phys., v76, 1066-1069 Archived 2012-04-01 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ D. Suppapittayaporn et al. (2008). The effectiveness of peer instruction and structured inquiry on conceptual understanding of force and motion: a case study from Thailand. Research in Science & Technology Education
  8. ^ a b D. J. Nicol and J. T. Boyle (2003). Peer Instruction versus Class-wide Discussion in the large classes: a comparison of two interaction methods in the wired classroom, Studies in Higher Education, v28, n4, 458-73
  9. ^ S. Butchart, T. Handfield & G. Restall (2009). Using Peer Instruction to Teach Philosophy, Logic and Critical Thinking. Teaching Philosophy, v32, n1, 1–40
  10. ^ S.L. Chew. (2004). Using concepTests for formative assessment, Psychology Teacher Network, v14, n1, 10-12
  11. ^ D. McConnell, D. Steer, & K. Owens (2003). Assessment and active learning strategies for introductory geology courses, Journal of Geoscience Education, v51, n2, 205-216 Archived 2012-09-11 at the Wayback Machine,
  12. ^ M. Smith, W.B. wood, W.K Adams, et al. (2009).Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions, Science, v232, n5190, 122-124
  13. ^ S. Pilzer (2001). Peer Instruction in Physics and Mathematics. Primus, v11, n1, 185-92
  14. ^ Beth Simon, et al. "Experience report: peer instruction in introductory computing." ACM (2010).

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