The concept of ‘student engagement’ is based on the belief that learning improves when students are interested, inspired and inquisitive. It is widely believed by teachers and scientists alike, that learning suffers when students are bored, dispassionate and ‘disengaged’. Numerous intellectual, behavioural, emotional and physical factors play a role in the learning process, and many research studies show that there are connections between being motivated and interested in class and gaining improved academic important, greater information recall, etc.

One evidence-based teaching method that has been routinely proven to engage students in class is Peer Instruction. This teaching method is an interactive technique developed by Harvard Professor and TT Distinguished Educator, Eric Mazur, and it becomes an even more effective tool when combined with TurningPoint. Here’s how it works:

  • Students listen whilst the teacher asks a question
  • Students think independently on their response
  • Students submit their answer on their clicker/response device
  • The teacher can see the results via TurningPoint
  • Students then pair up with someone who’s answer is different to theirs
  • They discuss why they choose their answer
  • Post-discussion, students answer the same question again on their clicker/response device
  • The teacher can see the updated results via TurningPoint​

The technique can be used during class deliberations and is a highly effective tool in getting students to think independently, listen to the different opinions of their peers, and to generate their own verdict about a particular subject matter. Peer Instruction provides several learning benefits:

  1. It gives the student the opportunity to persuade his/her partner/group that their view is the right one
  2. The student has to put their thoughts into a cohesive manner, and explain it their peers
  3. The action of the student explaining the answer to their peers often helps the student to understand and retain that information

In the words of Albert Einstein:

‘You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.’

Peer Instruction is a fantastic teaching method, which truly motivates and engages students, and helps them understand and retain important subject matters. It is even more efficient when supported with TurningPoint, as the software gives the teacher the instant visual indication that their students are learning, and understanding the topic material.