David Dunkerley

School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Melbourne

1. What course (or courses) do you use PI in?

Title: GES1070: Natural Hazards and Human Vulnerability

Year level: First year

Description: A broad introductory unit for BA, BSc (and some BEnvSci) students), mainly.

2. What is the format of the course?

Single semester, 2 lectures and 2 hours of prac/tutorial per week.

3. Did you use PI in lectures, tutorials or both?

Solely in lectures.

4. How many questions did you use in a typical class?

About 6.

5. What voting mechanism do you use?

Eg. clickers (electronic response system), flash cards, show of hands.

Flash cards held up to front of theatre

6. What are your main goals when using PI in class? What do you hope to achieve?

Introduce some variety in lecture style and content. Allow students to be more engaged with the class and active in it. Assess how well lecture material was being grasped by the class.

7. What kinds of question do you use? What kind of questions are most effective?

Used a range of multiple-choice questions, usually 3-4 options, some simple review questions (almost factual); others exploring the extent to which students had been able to draw out general concepts or principles from lecture content

8. What benefits do you think there are in using PI in your classes?

All raised in (6) appeared to be well achieved.

9. What disadvantages do you think there are in using PI in your classes?

Some students felt it was somewhat trivial (most did not). Extra work devising questions (but not too challenging). Takes a little time away from substantive lecture content (but this may be more than offset by improved learning outcomes).

10. How do your students respond to using PI?

General response was very good – sometimes the class would clearly have liked more questions.

See the student evaluations for this course.

11. What do you think are the biggest challenges to using PI effectively?

Careful devising of questions

Would be better to have a theatre equipped with electronic tally system so that one could see at a glance that, say, 65% of students selected option ‘A’, etc.

PI itself could become routine if used too frequently (Volvo ‘lights on’ analogy – effect wears off).

12. What advice would you give to someone thinking of using PI in their teaching?

Well worth experimenting with. I certainly used it again on a limited basis in GES1020 (semester 2, 2007) and found it really useful to have the feedback on how well I was getting my messages across to the class.

I suspect that the class may respond well to the evident effort that a lecturer puts into extra ventures such as PI.