Students don’t always learn what it is that we intend to teach them. In several science departments, faculty are addressing this gap by collaboratively deciding on just what it is that they want students to take away from a particular course or lecture. These learning goals have been valuable as a communication tool among faculty and between faculty and students so that everybody knows what the outcomes of the course are meant to be. Once these goals are written, it’s also much easier to write exams and other assessments.
Questioning can be a powerful tool for increasing student engagement and student learning. Peer Instruction is a tested method for achieving deep impact through student questioning, by asking student to consider a difficult question, discuss it with their neighbors, vote, and reason through the answers as a whole class. Our workshops on this method focus on why to use Peer Instruction, how to write effective questions, and how to facilitate class discussion.