AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 84 New Ways of Teaching College Astronomy -- Practical Advice and Results
Special Session, Thursday, June 3, 2004, 10:00-11:30am, 707/709

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[84.04] Five Years of Peer Teaching in Astronomy: What do Student's Think of It?

D.K. Duncan (Univ. of Colorado (formerly Univ. of Chicago))

Results from five years of peer instruction at the Universities of Chicago and Colorado will be presented. Peer teaching has students discuss questions with each other before responding in a large lecture class.

Use of the peer approach – even sparingly, once per class - produced a large amount of student enthusiasm. Assessment revealed some surprises. Discussion with peers was originally not considered “scientific” by many students because they considered themselves nonscientists and thought they could not really DO or TALK science. This was based on misconception of how scientists talk with each other. Considerable satisfaction was expressed by students about their participation, a typical comment being “Yes, it has made science much more interesting mainly because of the debate and theory involved.” Talking with peers was different – and easier - than talking with even a very approachable professor. Peer pressure was a strong factor in getting students to work harder. There was no correlation between improvement in student’s attitudes about science and their class grade; Students who received A’s, B’s, or C’s expressed similar improvements in their attitudes about science and explained why. Peer instruction is a relatively easy way to get more student response in a large class. The method presented here involved only a small amount of instructor effort.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://casa.colorado.edu/~dduncan/challenge.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: dduncan@colorado.edu

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