No More Multiple Guess Questions
Peer Instruction, popularized by Eric Mazur of Harvard University, is one of the most prevalent classroom activities today.
- A teacher put up a multiple choice question for the whole class to consider, and ask everyone to indicate their answer choice individually (either using their fingers, flash cards, or wireless clickers). Teachers log the distribution of answer choices, and maybe even display this back to the class, without revealing what the correct answer is.
- The teacher asks students to discuss with their neighbouring peers, encouraging them to talk to students who might have a had a different answer. Students are prompted to try to explain their thinking, or their rationale for their answer choice.
- After a couple of minutes of these small group discussions, students are asked to, once again, individually indicate their answer choice.
Not surprisingly, students often migrate in large numbers towards the correct answer on this second attempt. Something fascinating is happening during these peer discussions, whereby students can convince each other of the correct thinking. Research has shown, time and time again, Peer Instruction is an effective classroom practice that improves student learning.
Asynchronous Peer Instruction ###
DALITE (Distributed Active Learning Integrated Technology Environment) was developed by a Physics Education Research Group, made up of practitioner researchers who were :
- interested in learning more about what students might say to one another to explain their thinking, and convince each other that they might be right
- looking for an alternative to standard multiple guess questions to use in on-line homework assignments
- extending the benefits of peer instruction to when students are working asynchronously
And so this Designed Based Research project was born. After multiple iterations of refining the interface, a first generation web application was born. In the fall of 2013, DALITE was tested in a study that spanned 140 students in Introductory Mechanics across three colleges in Montreal, Canada. The research results showed that DALITE
- was an effective use of students’ time and promoted conceptual learning gains
- allowed all students to contribute meaningful and effective rationales into the database
- provided teachers with a novel tool for formative assessment, and Just-In-Time-Teaching/Flipped Classroom/Active Learning style pedagogy
DALITE - Next Generation
HarvardX, a founding member of the edX consortium, financed the development of DALITE into an [open source][https://github.com/open-craft/dalite-ng], LTI compliant tool, making it available through most major Learning Management Systems, including Moodle and Canvas. Since 2015, DALITE has been used in three Massive Open Online Classroom (MOOCs) on the edX platform, including