Table of Contents
ISRN Education
Volume 2012, Article ID 290157, 8 pages
Research Article

Investigating Peer Instruction: How the Initial Voting Session Affects Students' Experiences of Group Discussion

Sør-Trøndelag University College, 7004 Trondheim, Norway

Received 16 March 2012; Accepted 3 April 2012

Academic Editors: F. Jimenez, A. Kara, K. Kiewra, and K. Y. Kuo

Copyright © 2012 Kjetil L. Nielsen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Peer Instruction is a popular method of implementation when using Student Response Systems (SRS) in classroom teaching. The students engage in peer discussion to solve conceptual multiple choice problems. Before discussion, students are given time to think and give individual responses with a voting device. In this paper, we investigate how this initial voting session affects students’ experiences of the following discussion. The data is based on student interviews which were analyzed using analytical tools from grounded theory. The students emphasize the individual thinking period as crucial for constructing explanations, argumentation, and participation during discussions, and hence for facilitating learning. However, displaying the results from the initial vote can be devastating for the quality of the discussions, especially when there is a clear majority for a specific alternative. These findings are discussed in light of recent quantitative studies on Peer Instruction.