Article Review #3

After reading this week’s readings and watching the videos I wanted to know more about Peer Instruction and non-traditional methodologies that instructors are using. I found an article titled,  Changing Classroom Designs: Easy; Changing Instructors’ Pedagogies: Not So Easy…  The title interested me in the beginning. I wanted to know more about how technology and methodology interact in the classroom.

According to the authors, traditional classroom settings are teacher-centered. In this model, the instructor delivers knowledge to students and this is the only transmission of information. In non-traditional classrooms, such as Peer Instruction, students are able to construct their own knowledge and share it with other students. This approach is student-centered.

The purpose of the study was to find out if technology played a role in the success of student-centered methodologies. The authors claim that the student-centered pedagogy and technological classrooms go hand-in-hand. One finding was that active learning pedagogies had higher success rates than teacher-centered pedagogies regardless of the classroom technology. In the Youtube videos we watched, Mazur used clickers for the initial student interaction. And the study found that this method works equally well with flashcards or other tools.

I thought this article was interesting because the Youtube videos grasped my attention. I really enjoyed watching the student initiated discussions and interactions. This pedagogy is something I would like to be more deliberate about introducing in my classrooms. Students learn from me in the classroom but really, in my own educational experience, I learned more from my peers. I learned more going to dinner with peers after class then from lectures sometimes. It makes me reflect on Mazur’s question of how we learn. Most people do not say they learned how to do something really well by attending a lecture.

Works Cited:

Lasry, N., Charles, E., Whittaker, C., Dedic, H., & Rosenfield, S. (2012). Changing Classroom Desings: Easy; Changing Instructors’ Pedagogies: Not So Easy…  Physics Education Research Conference, AIP Conference Proceedings. 238-241.  

4 thoughts on “Article Review #3

  1. I almost read that same article! I wonder why the shift from teacher centered to student centered came about. I certainly like the change, but I doubt it’s just because we’re all suddenly very engrossed in technology. Did they arise at the same time, but independent of each other, and then converge conveniently?

    “Most people do not say they learned how to do something really well by attending a lecture.”

    And yet, I know people who have…a seriously small percentage though! Isn’t it strange how we privileged an unbelievably small percentage of learners for so long? And yet, teachers can’t (and probably will never) meet the needs of every learning type. The seemingly inevitable outcome of that is personalized education.

    “Active learning pedagogies had higher success rates than teacher-centered pedagogies regardless of the classroom technology.”

    :O Maybe not then? There’s still a chance for the good-ol’ round table discussion? That makes me happy.

    1. Hi Lexie,

      Thought provoking article. Nice work and analysis.

      I’m wondering if there might be some structural phenomena at work here that lead to some forgone conclusions?

      As we raise classroom sizes, what happens to the effectiveness of the lecture?

      As we raise class sizes, where are students going to turn to find help? Clickers, to me, speak to a need to engage at industrial scales. If we have class sizes of 7 or 8 students, we have no engagement gap and clickers become silly. Is Mazur solving a problem or merely treating symptoms of poor design?

      I’m a fan of peer-learning as a way to enhance engagement and add perspectives to conversation, especially at the more advanced levels of education (Science and the scientific community testify to the effectiveness of peer learning). Would peer learning be as effective when students have very low levels of background knowledge? Such as flight school? Or geometry?

      Very interesting topic!


  2. A few thoughts on lectures.

    Historically, it seems, lectures lay at the intersection between other mediums of information. Books and written materials were available, but if you wanted someone to interpret them for you, synthesize them for you, your only real option was to attend the verbal offerings of a knowledgable soul.

    Modern recording capacities reduces that barrier to practically nothing.

    As the value of lectures has changed, what impact would that likely have on the role of educators?

  3. “The authors claim that the student-centered pedagogy and technological classrooms go hand-in-hand.” This is an interesting conclusion that makes me want to read the article. Especially interesting since they go on to claim that active learning approaches had better results than teacher-centered pedagogies “regardless of the classroom technology.” To me, this reiterates that quality instruction is based on sound teaching practices and merely supplemented by technology or any other tool. The fact that flash cards are as effective as clickers confirms this.
    As for peer instruction, I can’t overemphasize it’s power in the classroom. When I taught 3rd grade, we used this model daily. Literacy blocks were organized with groups of kids rotating through stations with various activities. I tinkered with grouping quite a bit to observe the results. When you pair low performing kids together, there seemed to be quite a bit of off-task behavior. Most likely because there was a lack of schema and confidence in the topic. It was easier, and more rewarding in terms of attention received, to be goofy. The higher performing groups got down to business and exchanged ideas, coming to mutual understandings. I was reluctant initially to match low and high performing kids because I thought the gap in knowledge would interfere with the ability to connect. What I found was that higher performing kids actively took on the “teacher and nurturer” role, becoming excited to share knowledge and help other succeed. The lower performing kids in the group were generally more willing to accept constructive criticism or new ideas from peers more readily than from me as the formal teacher.
    Very interesting topic!

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