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Bob Reuter's Web

Little things can make me happy…

I’m happy 🙂

I got a weekly-update newsletter email from the Peer Instruction Network, that I recently joined and they quoted a (“fantastic”, sic!) question I’ve asked when joining the network… so that other members can give me their answers, via a special POLL… how cool’s that!!!

II. Social Sciences Members Spotlight

Social science disciplines most frequently registered
  • Education: 78
  • Psychology: 53
  • Economics: 40

Bob at University of Luxembourg posted a fantastic question on www.peerinstruction.net relevant to the social sciences.

He asks, “How do you develop ConcepTests for knowledge domains where it’s less obvious what are the established theories, facts and opinions?”

First, for those of you who do not know, ConcepTests are short conceptual questions used in Peer Instruction. Once a teacher poses a ConcepTest, students are first given time to formulate responses and then asked to discuss those responses with each other. The process requires students to think through their reasoning first and then provides them with opportunities to analyze their reasoning with their peers, but does not require a correct answer.

There are many different types of ConcepTests. For example, discussion starters, opinion polling on gray area issues, outcome prediction questions (IF,THEN, etc), and even textual analysis. We find students are just as engaged in these questions as in questions where there are “right” and “wrong” answers.

III. Peer Instruction Network Member Poll

Click here or copy and paste this link (bit.ly/pinetpoll) into your browser to:

  • Respond to Bob’s question
So, if you, dear readers, of my blog have any suggestions on how to design ConcepTests in the field of Educational Technology.
Categories: Blog - EdPsy - T&L
Bob Reuter at 10:32 on 3 September 2012

and hey, I even got some answers to my question!

“III. Responses to Bob’s question

Thank you everyone the responses to Bob’s question about how to develop ConcepTests for fields where there may not be right or wrong answers. One response from Sam Butchart at Monash provides Peer Instruction Tips and a link to additional PI resources.

Sam says: I and my colleagues at Monash university have been using PI to teach philosophy for several years now and have found it to be just as useful and engaging for students as in science subjects. Some suggestions about the kinds of ConcepTest questions you can ask can be found here:http://arts.monash.edu.au/philosophy/peer-instruction/

Look under ‘Types of question you can ask in lectures’.

Even in a subject like philosophy where there are no generally accepted right and wrong answers, there are still theories, concepts, definitions and distinctions which you are trying to get students to understand and which you can ask useful questions about:

1) what a particular theory implies about a specific situation or context
2) which of a number of examples are instances of a given concept
3) ‘opinion poll’ questions that poll students initial opinions about a topic. After discussing a particular theory in a lecture, you can then ‘re-poll’ the students to see if their views have changed. Although such questions do not test student’s knowledge, they are still useful for keeping students engaged in the lecture. Students casn become more ‘invested’ in a topic after they have expressed an opinion about it.

You can review the full set of responses to Bob’s question by downloading a pdf of comments here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9499779/PINetQuestion1.pdf