Lecturing and Teaching

Published by patrick honner on

This article by David Bressoud from the Mathematical Association of America summarizes some interesting research about “lecture-style” teaching.


An experiment conducted in an introductory physics course at the University of British Columbia compared students taught by traditional lecture with those taught by a clicker-based peer instruction system.  The two groups of students were closely controlled at the beginning of the semester, both receiving lecture-style instruction.  Then after 12 weeks, the instructional approach toward one group changed dramatically.

While the control group continued to receive traditional instruction, the experimental group began receiving clicker-based peer instruction.  The experienced professor was replaced by two graduate students knowledgeable in physics and trained in this particular instructional methodology, but otherwise lacking in teaching experience.  The results were dramatic:  by the end of the semester, the average test score of the experimental group was 2.5 standard deviations above the average in the control group.

The peer instruction relied heavily on student-to-student and whole-group discussion of material during class, which is largely credited for the gains in performance.  Bressoud has some interesting things to say about what this means for math instruction, inviting us to read more about how to shut up and teach.

Categories: Teaching

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


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