In this coffee break TIPs we looked at how we could use the university’s in class polling tool Poll Everywhere in the use of peer instruction as an alternative form of pedagogy.

Peer Instruction is an interactive teaching method, made popular by the Harvard University physics lecturer Eric Mazur in the early 1990s. Professor Mazur realised that his students were turning up to his lecturers, taking exams and passing exams without really understanding the fundamentals of his beloved subject.  As a passionate educator, he came up with a method that flipped the classroom and got students to engage and explain their understanding to each other.

Prof. Mazur was driven by the school of thought that you learn through teaching, and someone who has just learnt and understood something can explain it in a simpler and more empathetic way than someone who learnt it 10 years prior.

Here is Peer Instruction illustrated:

Prof. Mazur’s process was to deliver a mini lecture, then he would ask a question and allow the students time to think and process. He would then ask the students to commit to a multiple choice answer.  The next part is the most crucial; he would instruct the students to find a peer with a different answer and discuss their answers. It is here where most of the learning takes place, as it requires the student to critically think about the answers and not just ingest their own answers and perspective. Prof. Mazur would then explain which was the correct answer and repeat the process if necessary.

So why Poll Everywhere I hear you ask?! Well, technology has come a long since the 1990s and no longer do you have the carry around heavy suitcases filled with remote clickers to get your students to answer multiple choice questions quickly. Poll Everywhere can make the student-answer stage of the process quick and painless as they are able to respond using a laptop, or simply the Poll Everywhere app on their tablet or smartphone.

To find out more about using Poll Everywhere for peer instruction contact your Academic Developer in TEL