For Peer Instruction to succeed, students need to be able to focus quickly on the concept in an interactive way that highlights the most common misconceptions.
ConcepTests are multiple choice questions which the students pose to each other in small groups, during class. This technique is remarkably effective at engaging students' interest and clarifying misconceptions, if the tests are geared as much as possible to the class level. At the same time, ConcepTests are also useful for the instructor to gauege class understanding in realtime. Some excellent examples of ConcepTests for introductory physics can be viewed in the ConcepTest database at the Project Galileo homepage. Also see these references I've compiled.
We have begun to compile a library of ConcepTests for introductory astronomy. There are already several hundred questions (check the tally by filename), but many more are needed. We are now SOLICITING CONTRIBUTIONS. These should be short, conceptual, multiple choice tests that can be presented without elaborate diagrams. Major contributors (say,questions or more) will have password access to the full library of tests on the WWW. Limited access preserves the thought-provoking element for students, and the requirement of a contribution serves to make the library large, varied, and thus flexible. Once the database contains 1,000 good ConcepTests, we will remove the contribution requirement entirely.
The good news is that I am putting together a book called Peer Instruction for Astronomy to be published in 2001 by Prentice Hall. The book will be distributed FREE to most intro astro instructors across the country.
If you are a grad student or faculty member interested reviewing/editing of (at least 50) ConcepTest questions, I am offering an acknowledgment in the book or 30cents a question, whichever you prefer. You may choose your topic(s) from among the table of contents.
The development of the most effective questions is best assured
through classroom testing. Please let me know if you are
interested in contributing
to, using, or testing the
library of ConcepTests .
You can send me a message at my email address below.