The Physics Suite: Peer Instruction Problems

Peer Instruction Problems:
Introduction to the Method

Making Your Lecture More Interactive

The Peer Instruction technique is a method created by Eric Mazur to help make lectures more interactive and to get students intellectually engaged with what is going on.

In this method,

This method, besides having the advantage of engaging the student and making the lecture more interesting to the student, has the tremendous importance of giving the instructor significant feedback about where the class is and what it knows. To often, we use the "union of knowledge principle" -- if any student in the class knows something, we assume the whole class knows it. The response system gives us much better information about the distribution of knowledge among our students. This method also offers significant opportunity for engaging the students in discussions of reasoning and epistemology (how we decide which answers are right and under what circumstances the answers hold).

For more information, see

Ways of Collecting Student Responses

You can collect student responses in a variety of ways.

Electronic Remote Answering Devices (RADs) are now conveniently and cheaply available.

Students can be given a point for participating in order to encourage them to come to class and to not lose their electronic RADs. But it is important that students reach for their intuitive answers, rather than the answers that they think the professor wants or that is the "right" or "scientific" answer. They won't do this if their answers are graded.

You don't need to go high-tech, however. Another way was suggested by Tom Moore (Pomona) and studied by D. Meltzer and K. Manivannan (The Physics Teacher 34 (1996) 72.)

Although this method is much cheaper and easier to implement than the electronic one, it has the drawback that student answers are not anonymous to the rest of the class and they cannot be easily recorded for grading or later analysis.

The Problem Collection

We present here a collection of problems appropriate to use in lecture in conjunction with the Peer Instruction Method. The problems are annotated with a few sentences describing their use and our experience with them.

Some of the problems in this collection are not multiple choice. In this case, the instructor should allow students to suggest a range of answers and number them before having the class vote.

The problems in the collection are stored as PDF and as DOC files.

Problems are arranged by subject. (When this site is finished, you will also be able to view these problems arranged to match the Physics Suite's text, Understanding Physics chapter by chapter.)

Other Websites with Appropriate Problems

If you learn of other websites with good collections of Peer Instruction problems, please send them to and I will add them to this list.

Work supported in part by a grant from the US National Science Foundation. 

Maintained by Edward F. Redish
Comments and questions may be directed to

Page last modified August 27, 2006