Student Learning Gains from Peer Lectures versus Instructor Lectures
Thursday 4:30pm-5:30pm Red Gym
Alysa Remsburg, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Student presentations to the class are common in college classrooms for many reasons, but faculty often wonder whether listening to other students present is effective use of class time. When student group presentations become longer lectures, or there are too many student presentations, the classroom is no longer an active learning experience for those who are listening. This research investigates learning gains by the students who serve as an audience for peer presentations. The research question is 'How much do students learn from peers presenting interactive lectures in comparison with an instructor presenting interactive lectures?' An interactive component, such as a game, was included in this 25-35 minute group presentation assignment. Seven student group presentations were interspersed over six weeks of class with four presentations of the same format given by the instructor, for a total of 11 different topic presentations of the same format. Presentation topics for this (Environmental Studies) Food Systems course were environmental impacts of different categories of food production. The same open-ended quiz question was used before and after each presentation in order to assess learning gains resulting from the interactive presentation. Out of 5 points possible on each quiz, student scores increased by an average of 1.96 points on the post-instruction quiz (SD = 1.23, n = 248), and whether student groups or the instructor presented the topic did not influence scores. Surveys conducted at the beginning and end of the semester also assessed student interest in each topic and preferences for classroom learning formats. Surveys indicated that students found peer instruction to be the least effective classroom method. However, these data suggest that with significant guidance and presentation parameters, students can learn as much from peer presenters as from interactive lectures by the instructor.