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Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions

Science  02 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5910, pp. 122-124
DOI: 10.1126/science.1165919

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Abstract

When students answer an in-class conceptual question individually using clickers, discuss it with their neighbors, and then revote on the same question, the percentage of correct answers typically increases. This outcome could result from gains in understanding during discussion, or simply from peer influence of knowledgeable students on their neighbors. To distinguish between these alternatives in an undergraduate genetics course, we followed the above exercise with a second, similar (isomorphic) question on the same concept that students answered individually. Our results indicate that peer discussion enhances understanding, even when none of the students in a discussion group originally knows the correct answer.

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