Concept Tests

ConcepTests (aka Peer Instruction, “Clicker” Questions), invented Eric Mazur, (Peer Instruction, A User's Manual, Prentice Hall, 1997) are multiple choice questions that are during class. Typically the question and the multiple choice answers are posted on a computer projector. All students in the class respond via some kind of a technoligical “clicker” or by holding up coded pieces of paper. The results of this voting are shown to the class by the instructor. In cases where the class does not hone in on a single answer, students are instructed to “turn to your neighbor” and discuss the problem, then to vote again. The instructor then discusses the results with the class.

There are now many authors of Concept Tests from many institutions and many disciplines. The best concept tests include typical incorrect student answers “distractors” among the multiple choices and require students to understand the concepts being discussed, rather than the ability to do rote calculations. Many are based on Physics Education Research and address prevalent and persistent student problems. Careful preparation of these questions vastly improves their usefulness in the classroom.

Concept Tests were invented to allow for active engagement a large-enrollment environment. If you are blessed with small classes, you might want to try our ”Small White Board Questions” which allow for open-ended rather than multiple-choice answers and can be implemented spontaneously.

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