In this page we suggest some bibliographical references, along with a brief description of their content, and a link to a video that we find important for those interested in the metodology based on discussion among peers.

Papers on the method " Peer Instructions "

Crouch & Mazur 2001, Peer Instructions: Ten years of experience and results, American Journal of Physics 69, 970

Fagem, Crouch, & Mazur 2002, Peer Instructions: Results from a range of classrooms, Phys. Teach. 40, 206–209

Lasry, Mazur, & Watkins 2008, Peer Instructions: From Harvard to the two-year college, American Journal of Physics 76, 1066

Interview with Eric Mazur

More studies on the importance of discussion:

Hake 1998, Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses, American Journal of Physics 66, 64

Deslauriers, Shelew & Wieman 2011, Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class, Science 332 , 862

The two studies mentioned above analysed very big statistical samples: 6542 students in  the first, 850 in the second. The size of the samples and the indisputable nature of the results, rule out any possibilty of statistical bias or any other sprurious effect. In both studies, the groups who utilized discussion as a pedagogical tool obtained better results than the control group by a considerable amount. We can confidently claim, that the improved efficacy of discussion in learning science, with respect to the traditional setting, is backed by smashing evidence.

The work by Deslauriers et al. is remarkable not only for being published in one of the most prestigious scientific journals, but also for a peculiar characteristic: it is the result of a bet between e renowned professor, by any account a very talented speaker, firmly beleiver in the traditional method, and a pos-doc fellow with little teaching experience, advocating discussion as a learning tool. Both taught according to their convictions respectively to the control group and to the group in the experimental condition.

We ignore studies supporting the efficacy of the traditional method with respect to the discussion among peers. If there are any, please share this piece of information with us.

More interesting papers

Epistemological Beliefs in Introductory Physics
Author: David Hammer
Source: Cognition and Instruction, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 151-183 - Year 1994

Our summary: In this work, Hammer presents some case studies of students with different approaches in learning physics. The believes that are at the base of these different approaches, are referred to as epistemological believes, for which Hammer identifies three dimensions. The most constructive approach is based on the following epistemological believes:
► physics is an organic system of interrelated elements, not a mere collection of fragments with no relation to one another;
► physics is best learned by independent reflection, not by accept by authority concepts and then learning them by heart;
► concepts have a deep meaning, they are not just symbols to be manipulated according to some standard procedure.
Hammer suggests that the most limiting epistemological believes are not due to lack of intelligence, knowledge, motivation or will power. An indication supporting this conclusion, is provided by one of his case studies with this kind of approach, Roger. Roger is good at mathematics, he is motivated to be good at physics too, and he is knowledgeable enough on the subject to achieve this goal. The only problem with Roger, according to Hammer, is his belief that trying to understand deeply is excessively time-consuming.
Link to the article

Dialogic Argumentation as a Vehicle for Developing Young Adolescents' Thinking
Authors: Deanna Kuhn & Amanda Crowell
Source: Psychological Science 22(4) 545­–552  - Anno 2011

Our summary: This study shows evidence that the arguing skills can be improved by regular practice in 11 to 13 years old and gives suggestions for the implementation of such training.
Link to the article

Arguing to Learn in Science: The Role of Collaborative, Critical Discourse
Author: Jonathan Osborne.
Source: Science 328 , 463 - Year 2010

Our summary: Review article that stresses the importance of arguing in learning science. Arguing is crucial to learning because it is at the basis of the scientific process, which is presently mistaken as accumulation of revealed truths, and because it gives to students the opportunity to understand the difference between evidence, hypothesis, claims, data and reasoning. It is also suggested that discussing explicitly how we reason has beneficial effects, and references that support this claim are given.
Link to the article

Making Sense of Argumentation and Explanation
Authors: Leema Kuhn Berland & Brian Reiser.
Source: 93(1), 26-55 - Year 2009

Our summary: Sense-making, articulating and persuading are three related but  distinct skills that strengthen each other when pupils discuss a scientific issue.
Link to the article

Cognitive  processes in comprehension of science texts: The role of co-activation in confronting misconceptions
Authors: Paul Van Den Broek & Panayiota Kendeou
Source: Appl. Cognit. Psychol. 22: 335–351 - Year 2008

Our summary: When new knowledge is acquired, it is interpreted through a web of concepts, automatically or deliberately activated, that include previous knowledge and previous parts of the text that is being read. In order for a misconception to be revised, explaining its correct counterpart is not enough, because the student might not be aware of the contradiction between the two versions of the notion. It is also necessary to make sure that the misconception is part of the web of concepts through which the student interprets the new explanation. If this happens, than the contradiction becomes apparent and can be successfully resolved.
Link to the article

Contribution of Meta‐strategic Knowledge to Scientific Inquiry Learning
Authors: Anat Zohar & Adi Ben David
Source: International Journal of Science Education, Volume 31, Issue 12 - Year 2009

Our summary: This is the last of a series of articles to test the hypothesis that explicitly teaching meta-cognitive strategies is warranted. Meta-cognitive strategies are general rules and assumptions that underlie scientific research. They dictate, for instance, how to conduct experiments in order to test a specific hypothesis. The conclusion of the research presented in this paper is that explicit teaching of meta-cognitive skills has a stronger effect for low‐achieving students than for high‐achieving students
Link to the article

A Longitudinal Study of Engineering Student Performance and Retention. III. Gender Differences in Student Performance and Attitudes.
Authors: Richard M. Felder, Gary N. Felder, Meredith Mauney, Charles E. Hmarin Jr., & E. Jacqueline Dietz.
Source: Journal of Engineering Education, 84(2), 151-163 - Year 1995

Our summary: Female engineering students initially have better credentials than their male counterpart due to a selection effect: they are countering a gender stereotype, therefore they are likely to be more motivated than the average student. This initial advantage erodes with time, possibly because the competitive environment penalizes young women more than young men. Practicing discussion among peers as a study method, might prevent the loss of motivation of female engineering students.
Link to the article

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