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Tuesday, June 17 • 1:30pm - 4:30pm
PC.PM.01 -- Creating Concept Questions to Increase Engagement and To Improve Learning

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In this workshop we describe how to effectively use concept questions in the classroom and interactively help educators create concept questions for their classes. The workshop will be a mix of lecture, group work, and feedback from the presenters.

The basic method of using concept questions follows. The instructor uses lecture to teach a particularly difficult concept and answer any questions. Then, a “concept question” and a multiple-choice answer set appear on the screen. Using clickers or some other polling software, the students choose what they believe to be the correct answer from the choices presented.  The instructor privately looks at the results.  If fewer than 70% of the students get the answer correct, then the instructor asks each student to find a classmate who picked a different answer and try to convince that classmate that he or she is right. The poll is cleared and after a few minutes the students guess again. Usually over 90% of the students get the right answer after consulting with their peers.

Concept questions (Mazur, 2009; Crouch & Mazur, 2001) have a wide range of benefits.  They break up a lecture to decrease boredom, and the discussion generates peer-learning. Instructors report increased student engagement (Mazur, 1997). It encourages deep processing of course material long before test time, which in effect forms a kind of spaced learning (Dempster, 1988) and interleaved practice, or, seeing information in multiple contexts (Carpenter, 2001). The immediate feedback provides self-regulated learning (Butler & Winne, 1995), and asking students to predict the outcome of an experiment increases their conceptual understanding of it (Crouch, Fagen, Callan, & Mazur, 2004). Further, it makes the students very interested in learning the correct answer. They also transform the learning experience by offering a novel, interactive engagement differentiated from lecture, videos, class discussion, and reading.

In this workshop, we will review the process of using concept questions and give advice, based on our own experience, on the best way to create them. We will review the efficacy of clickers, index cards, and polleverywhere.com for answer collection. We will discuss strategies for choosing which topics deserve concept questions, and how to make concept questions from difficult material (e.g., anatomy).

The workshop will be interactive. We will encourage participants to create concept questions for their own courses and as a group will give feedback to make them better. Participants will learn how to make concept questions and leave the class with at least two excellent ones for immediate use in teaching, and we will discuss the literature on the benefits of concept questions.

Tuesday June 17, 2014 1:30pm - 4:30pm
A227 Duncan McArthur Hall, 511 Union Street Queen's University Kingston ON Canada

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