Indicates a research-demonstrated benefit


A method for creating more interactive engagement in large lecture classes by replacing lectures with small group discussions of conceptual questions, followed by whole-class discussions, with mini-lectures between questions. Students first think about and answer these questions individually; then discuss the explanations for their answers with their neighbors and come to agreement on the underlying physics.

Type of Method Instructional strategy
Level Designed for: Intro College Calculus-basedReferences coming soon, Intro College Algebra-basedReferences coming soon
Can be adapted for: High SchoolReferences coming soon, IntermediateReferences coming soon, Upper-levelReferences coming soon, Teacher Preparation, Teacher Professional Development, Intro College Conceptual, Graduate
Setting Designed for: Lecture - Large (30+ students)References coming soon
Can be adapted for: Lecture - Small (<30 students)References coming soon, Recitation/Discussion SessionReferences coming soon, Studio
Coverage Many topics with less depth, Requires more in-depth coverage of individual topics than a traditional lecture, so lecture cannot cover as many topics, but it is still possible to cover a lot of material by assigning reading and/or homework on topics not covered in lecture.
Topics Mechanics, Electricity / Magnetism, Waves / Optics, Thermal / Statistical, Modern / Quantum, Mathematical, Astronomy, Other Science, Pedagogy
Instructor Effort Low, (If suitable ConcepTests are already available, "low" is appropriate; if the instructor needs to write his/her own ConcepTests, then it requires more effort. There are many databases of ConcepTests in a wide variety of subjects.)
Resource Needs Multiple choice questions and polling method. A projector, clickers, and TAs/LAs are helpful but not required.
Skills Designed for: Conceptual understanding of physics contentReferences coming soon, Connecting conceptual and mathematical understanding
Can be adapted for: Problem-solving skillsReferences coming soon, Enjoyment of physicsReferences coming soon, Coherent framework for physics, Understanding how physics relates to the real world, Think like a scientist, Reflecting on one's own learning, Self-confidence around physics, Representing knowledge in multiple ways
Research Validation Based on research into: how students learnReferences coming soon
Demonstrated to improve: scores on multiple choice conceptual testsReferences coming soon, scores on written conceptual testsReferences coming soon, traditional problem-solving abilityReferences coming soon, beliefs about physicsReferences coming soon, attitudes about physicsReferences coming soon, retention of studentsReferences coming soon
Studied using: conceptual pre/post examsReferences coming soon, problem-solving pre/post examsReferences coming soon, beliefs pre/post examsReferences coming soon, student interviewsReferences coming soon, classroom observationsReferences coming soon, video of studentsReferences coming soon, research conducted at multiple institutionsReferences coming soon, research conducted by someone other than developersReferences coming soon
Compatible Methods PhET, UW Tutorials, JiTT, Ranking Tasks, ILDs, CGPS, Physlets, Context-Rich Problems, RealTime Physics, TIPERs, ABP Tutorials, SCALE-UP, OSP, SDI Labs, OST Tutorials, Thinking Problems, Workbook for Introductory Physics, LA Program, CAE TPS, Lecture-Tutorials, Astro Ranking Tasks, MBL, New Model Course, CPU, SCL, TEFA, CU Modern, CU E&M, CU QM, QuILTs, IQP, Thermal Tutorials, Mechanics Tutorials, Paradigms, Tools for Scientific Thinking, PI QM, M&I, Tutorials, Clickers, MOP, Responsive Teaching
Similar Methods ILDs, Workbook for Introductory Physics, CAE TPS, TEFA, PI QM, Clickers
Developer(s) Eric Mazur, Catherine H. Crouch, and colleagues
Intro Article Peer Instruction: Engaging Students One-on-One, All at Once