We need to shift the focus from teaching to helping our students learn.
- Eric Mazur

Don’t Lecture Me

Did you know?

College students spend a lot of time listening to lectures. But research shows there are better ways to learn. Research conducted over the past few decades shows it’s impossible for students to take in and process the information presented in a typical lecture. However, when instructors involve students in their own learning by adding conceptual questions to their lectures and giving students time to think about and discuss these questions, there is a measurable increase in student learning. This teaching by questioning approach, dubbed “peer instruction,” is a strategy developed by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur. It can be adapted to almost any course and has proven an effective teaching technique in both community college and university classrooms. Try a think-pair-share activity to engage your students in peer instruction.

Here’s how…

  • Compose a question about a concept or idea related to your course.
  • Distribute the Student Activity and have students write down your question.
  • Give students time to think about the question and their response.
  • Have students find a partner, pair, and discuss responses with each other.
  • Bring the class back together and share students’ responses.

Above and Beyond!

Eric Mazur focuses on the importance of crafting conceptual questions, called ConcepTests, designed to expose common difficulties in understanding course material. For more on how and why of ConcepTests, try this.