2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 10:10 AM


MCCONNELL, David, Geology, Univ of Akron, Akron, OH 44325, STEER, David, Department of Geology, Univ of Akron, Akron, OH 44325 and OWENS, Katharine, Department of Curricular and Instructional Studies, Univ of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-4205, dam6@uakron.edu

The use of conceptests and peer instruction in combination with an electronic classroom response system provide instructors with an opportunity to incorporate the seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering and Gamson, 1987) into their classes. This teaching method: 1. Encourages student-faculty contact – Peer instruction provides an opportunity for an instructor to facilitate small-group student discussions as s/he moves around the classroom. 2. Encourages cooperation among students – Peer instruction provides an occasion for students to talk and listen to their neighbors to improve their understanding of critical concepts. This process enhances the sense of community in the classroom and helps form social bonds essential for the ready exchange of ideas between students in large classes. 3. Encourages active learning – The use of conceptests turns students from passive listeners into active participants who are involved in the construction of their own knowledge. 4. Gives prompt feedback – Formative assessment during class can measure student understanding immediately following the introduction of key concepts. The use of conceptests and peer instruction compares favorably to other active learning methods, as rapid feedback is possible with this technique. 5. Emphasizes time on task – Well-crafted conceptests can focus student attention on critical concepts rather than basic facts. This technique also minimizes the loss of class time associated with making pedagogical changes to a course. 6. Communicates high expectations – Conceptests can be created to address specific teaching and learning goals that target what students are expected to know and be able to do. The integration of conceptests into lecture sets higher expectations for student performance than simply taking notes and can challenge students to seek understanding of concepts, not just memorization of facts. 7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning - Students enter introductory science classes at different cognitive stages. Peer instruction centered on conceptests assists some students in learning how to think critically while others can explore the depth of their understanding by taking on the role of (peer) instructors.