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Combining peer discussion with instructor explanation increases student learning from in-class concept questions.

Smith MK, Wood WB, Krauter K, Knight JK - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: To compare the effectiveness of three different approaches using clickers, pairs of similar questions were used to monitor student understanding in majors' and nonmajors' genetics courses.Our results show that the combination of peer discussion followed by instructor explanation improved average student performance substantially when compared with either alone.When gains in learning were analyzed for three ability groups of students (weak, medium, and strong, based on overall clicker performance), all groups benefited most from the combination approach, suggesting that peer discussion and instructor explanation are synergistic in helping students.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology University of Colorado at Boulder, CO 80309, USA. micsmith@u.washington.edu

ABSTRACT
Use of in-class concept questions with clickers can transform an instructor-centered "transmissionist" environment to a more learner-centered constructivist classroom. To compare the effectiveness of three different approaches using clickers, pairs of similar questions were used to monitor student understanding in majors' and nonmajors' genetics courses. After answering the first question individually, students participated in peer discussion only, listened to an instructor explanation only, or engaged in peer discussion followed by instructor explanation, before answering a second question individually. Our results show that the combination of peer discussion followed by instructor explanation improved average student performance substantially when compared with either alone. When gains in learning were analyzed for three ability groups of students (weak, medium, and strong, based on overall clicker performance), all groups benefited most from the combination approach, suggesting that peer discussion and instructor explanation are synergistic in helping students. However, this analysis also revealed that, for the nonmajors, the gains of weak performers using the combination approach were only slightly better than their gains using instructor explanation alone. In contrast, the strong performers in both courses were not helped by the instructor-only approach, emphasizing the importance of peer discussion, even among top-performing students.

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Effects of three different modes of discussing Q1 on mean for students in the majors’ (A) and nonmajors’ (B) genetics courses classified as weak, medium, or strong clicker performers based on their overall mean Q1 score (see Results). SEM are shown with error bars.
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Figure 5: Effects of three different modes of discussing Q1 on mean for students in the majors’ (A) and nonmajors’ (B) genetics courses classified as weak, medium, or strong clicker performers based on their overall mean Q1 score (see Results). SEM are shown with error bars.

Mentions: Figure 5 shows the learning gains represented by average Q1-to-Q2 <c> scores for the weak, medium, and strong clicker performers for all three instructional modes in both courses. In the majors’ course (Figure 5A), the combination mode was clearly most effective for all three groups of students. For the weak and medium groups, the peer-discussion and instructor-explanation modes appeared equally effective, whereas for the strong group, the instructor mode appeared least effective.


Combining peer discussion with instructor explanation increases student learning from in-class concept questions.

Smith MK, Wood WB, Krauter K, Knight JK - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Effects of three different modes of discussing Q1 on mean for students in the majors’ (A) and nonmajors’ (B) genetics courses classified as weak, medium, or strong clicker performers based on their overall mean Q1 score (see Results). SEM are shown with error bars.
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3046888&req=5

Figure 5: Effects of three different modes of discussing Q1 on mean for students in the majors’ (A) and nonmajors’ (B) genetics courses classified as weak, medium, or strong clicker performers based on their overall mean Q1 score (see Results). SEM are shown with error bars.
Mentions: Figure 5 shows the learning gains represented by average Q1-to-Q2 <c> scores for the weak, medium, and strong clicker performers for all three instructional modes in both courses. In the majors’ course (Figure 5A), the combination mode was clearly most effective for all three groups of students. For the weak and medium groups, the peer-discussion and instructor-explanation modes appeared equally effective, whereas for the strong group, the instructor mode appeared least effective.

Bottom Line: To compare the effectiveness of three different approaches using clickers, pairs of similar questions were used to monitor student understanding in majors' and nonmajors' genetics courses.Our results show that the combination of peer discussion followed by instructor explanation improved average student performance substantially when compared with either alone.When gains in learning were analyzed for three ability groups of students (weak, medium, and strong, based on overall clicker performance), all groups benefited most from the combination approach, suggesting that peer discussion and instructor explanation are synergistic in helping students.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology University of Colorado at Boulder, CO 80309, USA. micsmith@u.washington.edu

ABSTRACT
Use of in-class concept questions with clickers can transform an instructor-centered "transmissionist" environment to a more learner-centered constructivist classroom. To compare the effectiveness of three different approaches using clickers, pairs of similar questions were used to monitor student understanding in majors' and nonmajors' genetics courses. After answering the first question individually, students participated in peer discussion only, listened to an instructor explanation only, or engaged in peer discussion followed by instructor explanation, before answering a second question individually. Our results show that the combination of peer discussion followed by instructor explanation improved average student performance substantially when compared with either alone. When gains in learning were analyzed for three ability groups of students (weak, medium, and strong, based on overall clicker performance), all groups benefited most from the combination approach, suggesting that peer discussion and instructor explanation are synergistic in helping students. However, this analysis also revealed that, for the nonmajors, the gains of weak performers using the combination approach were only slightly better than their gains using instructor explanation alone. In contrast, the strong performers in both courses were not helped by the instructor-only approach, emphasizing the importance of peer discussion, even among top-performing students.

Show MeSH