Things Not To Do

You have invested significant effort to prepare a Peer Instruction class.  You have the best interests for your students’ learning and really want them to have a positive experience.

Somehow, we’ve seen people in these very situations do some not-so-helpful things the first day or two they are using PI.  If we’ve seen multiple people do them, they must be a natural thing for a (possibly nervous) instructor to do.  If you do them once or twice, it’s not the end of the world. But just try to not make any of these a habit.

For initial vote:

  • Keep explaining, talking about the question.  Give students a chance to read and think.  Yes, it will be deathly silent.  That’s OK.  You will see the votes will start coming in.
  • Just “stop” the vote collection – without counting down.  Students resent not being given the chance to vote.  Let them know you are ending.  Say “Go ahead and vote, 5,4,3,2,1”.
  • Wait for every last vote.  Students won’t click in every time.  It seems crazy, but they won’t.  If you have ~150 voting today, wait for 110-120 then announce you will be stopping.  Some people just wait until the very end, no matter how long you give them.
  • Pre-judge the question: “I think everyone knows this… This should be an easy one…”  Then you are just making them feel stupid if they don’t think it’s easy.
  • Show the result of the individual vote.  It just focuses them on discussing why the “tallest bar” is right.  You can go back and show this vote AFTER the group vote to help the class see that not EVERYONE got it right at first.  That’s a good thing to do.

During group discussion:

  • Forget to CLEARLY INDICATE they should talk now.  Say “DISCUSS: GO”.
  • Stay at the front and don’t walk around listening.
  • Interrupt.  It’s almost NEVER a good idea.  Whatever is wrong can wait.

During class-wide discussion:

  • Ask “who voted for A”
  • Only discuss the correct answer
  • Explain the question yourself before asking groups to share what they discussed
  • Say that one answer was dumb/didn’t make sense (don’t include those – have fewer choices)
  • Fail to acknowledge someone’s explanation (at least say “OK, anyone else think about it differently/want to share their explanation?)
  • Say a question was easy (how does that make someone who got it wrong feel?)
  • Fail to announce CLEARLY the correct answer(s)