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Evidence: Short Peer Instruction During Lectures Helps Learning

Review the Evidence:

Brief, cooperative peer-instruction sessions during lectures enhance student recall and comprehension.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the academic impact of cooperative peer instruction during lecture pauses in an immunology/endocrinology course. Brief, cooperative peer-instruction sessions during lectures enhance student recall and comprehension.  Here’s an easy active learning technique to add to your next lecture and can be modified for other teaching settings

Methods: Third-quarter students participated across iterations of the course. Each class offered 20 lectures of 50 minutes each. Classes were divided into a peer-instruction group incorporating cooperative peer instruction and a control group receiving traditional lectures. Peer-instruction group lectures were divided into 2–3 short presentations followed by a multiple-choice question (MCQ). Students recorded an initial answer and then had 1 minute to discuss answers with group peers. Following this, students could submit a revised answer. The control group received the same lecture material, but without MCQs or peer discussions. Final-exam scores were compared across study groups. A mixed-design analysis of covariance was used to analyze the data.

Results: There was a statistically significant main effect for the peer-instruction activity (F(1, 93) = 6.573, p = .012, r = .257), with recall scores higher for MCQs asked after peer-instruction activities than for those asked before peer instruction. Final-exam scores at the end of term were greater in the peer-instruction group than the control group (F(1, 193) = 9.264, p = .003, r = .214; question type, F(1, 193) = 26.671, p = .000, r = .348).

Conclusion: Lectures with peer-instruction pauses increase student recall and comprehension compared with traditional lectures.

READ MORE: Niu Zhang and Charles N.R. Henderson (2016) Brief, cooperative peer-instruction sessions during lectures enhance student recall and comprehension. Journal of Chiropractic Education: October 2016, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 87-93.

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