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Questions First (Q1st): The Challenges, Benefits, Drawbacks, and Results of Asking Students Questions Prior to Formal Instruction Documents

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Questions First (Q1st): The Challenges, Benefits, Drawbacks, and Results of Asking Students Questions Prior to Formal Instruction 

written by William J. Leonard, William J. Gerace, and Robert J. Dufresne

The initial intent of this research study was to compare two different approaches to using a classroom communication system (CCS). Two experienced CCS users would be in charge of his own section of first-semester, calculus-based, introductory college physics for math, science and engineering majors. Electronic homework (eHW) and identical exams would be administered to both sections. But the ways in which the CCS would be used during the lecture period and the way eHW would be administered to the two sections would be notably different. In the "Questions First" (Q1st) section, the CCS would be used to stimulate discussion and motivate short lectures. In the other section (non-Q1st), it would be used after lecturing to monitor student progress and understanding. In the Q1st section, eHW would be due before each lecture period, and in the non-Q1st section, the same assignment would be due the day after the corresponding material had been covered during the lecture period.
In the end, however, this study became less about trying to pin down the effects of two different instructional styles, and much, much more about the difficulties of comparing two large sub-populations of students. Therefore, although we will report on our findings regarding the comparison of the two sections and approaches, a large fraction of this talk will focus on the development of our thinking regarding the hindrances to making definitive and reliable statements about our findings.

Published July 26, 2001
Last Modified March 7, 2009

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