Peer Instruction in Introductory Physics: A Method to Bring About Positive Changes in Students’ Attitudes and Beliefs


This paper analyzes pre-post matched gains in the epistemological views of science students taking the introductory physics course at Beijing Normal University (BNU) in China. In this study we examined the attitudes and beliefs of science majors (n = 441) in four classes, one taught using traditional (lecture) teaching methods, and the other three taught with Peer Instruction (PI). In two of the PI classes, student peer groups were constantly changing throughout the semester, while in the other PI class student groups remained fixed for the duration of the semester. The results of the pre- and posttest using the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey showed that students in traditional lecture settings became significantly more novice-like in their beliefs about physics and learning physics over the course of a semester, a result consistent with what was reported in the literature. However, all three of the classes taught using the PI method improved student attitudes and beliefs about physics and learning physics. In the PI class with fixed peer groups, students exhibited a greater positive shift in attitudes and beliefs than in the other PI class with changing peer groups. The study also looked at gender differences in student learning attitudes. Gender results revealed that female science majors in the PI classes achieved a greater positive shift in attitudes and beliefs after instruction than did male students.
Last updated on 07/24/2019