Format of lectures
Here, in a bit more detail, is the general format for a Peer Instruction lecture:
- The lecturer lectures on a topic for 10-20 minutes.
- The lecturer then displays a multiple-choice question on that topic.
- Students are given up to a minute to think about their own answer, without conferring. Make sure students are given enough time to read the question and think about it, but don't give them too long.
- All students then vote on the answer. If flash cards are used, all the students should hold up their cards at the same time.
- The lecturer then reports back the general distribution of answers to the class. For example, she might say "About half of you have voted for answer 'A', the rest of you are split between 'C' and 'D'".
- If most students have the right answer, the lecturer confirms it and continues.
- If most students have the wrong answer, the lecturer may go back, explain the topic again and then re-assess, either by asking the question again, or using another question.
- If 40-80% of students have the right answer, students are given 1-2 minutes to discuss their answers with their neighbours. For example, the lecturer says something like "Now, turn to the person sitting next to you and try to convince them that your answer is correct. I'll give you 2 minutes to talk about the answer and then we'll vote again." If you like, you can wander around the lecture theatre while this is happening and listen in on a few of the discussions.
- After 1-2 minutes, bring the discussions to a close. The class then votes on the answer again and we go back to step 5.
- If the proportion of students with the right answer has increased after the discussion, the lecturer can confirm it and move on to the next topic or question. If not, the lecturer might wish to explain the right answer before moving on.
Flowchart for Using PI
Of course, many variations on this format are possible. For example, in the case of a split vote, you might like to ask one or two students to explain to the class why they chose the answer that they did and using this as a sporingboard for a classwide discussion before getting students to vote again. Another variation that sometimes works well is to allow students to discuss their answers with each other, before voting for the first time (instead of asking them to think on their own).