Greg Restall

School of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

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

Title: 161-115 Logic

Year level: First

Description: An introductory course in formal logic, involving both technical methods (models and trees for propositional and predicate logic) and philosophical issues concerning logic.

Textbook: Logic: An Introduction. G. Restall.

2. What is the format of the course?

2 hours of lectures + 1 hour of tutorials for a semester of 13 weeks.

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

In lectures.

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

From 2 to 6. Most often 5-6.

5. What voting mechanism do you use?

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

Flash Cards

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

To attempt and evaluate a new pedagogical technique. To freshen up a stale course (I’ve taught it for over 10 years, so a change is as good as a holiday!). To increase student engagement in lectures, and generally with the material.

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

Both (a) questions to gauge student understanding before a concept is introduced — to motivate and introduce a new concept or idea and (b) questions that help apply and extend concepts explicitly introduced. Type (b) questions were more successful.

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

Massively enhanced student engagement throughout the course. (Feedback to students about what they’re understanding. Motivation to keep up with the work.) Good feedback to the lecturer.

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

None. It requires work to structure lectures so that enough is covered, and to reassure students that they’re not missing anything. But this is not a disadvantage — just something to keep in mind.

10. How do your students respond to using PI?

Almost invariably positively.

See the student evaluations for this course.

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

The need to plan lectures carefully.

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

Do it. Sit in on someone else who is doing it. Talk about it with an experienced teacher. Use it as a way to be more explicit about what you’re attempting to teach and what the students should learn in each class.