Using peer instruction to promote conceptual understanding in high school physics classes
Muise, Joseph Michael.
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Students in many physics courses come away with a much stronger ability to solve problems than to explain things conceptually. This difference may largely be due to the way physics classes are traditionally taught. Peer Instruction has been developed to help bridge the gap between conceptual understanding and problem solving ability. This study introduced Peer Instruction to two classes of senior high school physics and monitored over the course of one unit. During instruction, conceptual multiple choice questions were presented and student responses were polled. For questions below a threshold percentage of correct responses, students were given the opportunity to discuss the question before it was re-polled. The use of Peer Instruction showed significant improvement in the conceptual performance of students, without affecting their problem-solving ability. The class room dynamics changed in such a way that student engagement was also improved.