Peer instruction (PI), like any other technique, may have unintended consequences.

  • Instructors implement PI differently, and this establishment of classroom norms can impact student perceptions of the utility of such practice.
  • Students have many different kinds of discussions during PI, not all focused on the topic, and not all centered around the concepts instructors intend.
  • By its very nature, PI allows exposure to others’ ideas, which can lead to better understanding, but also potentially to misunderstanding and answering incorrectly as a consequence of discussion.
  • Students who already feel unsure of themselves may be particularly susceptible to answering incorrectly after group discussion.  However, students who develop interdependence as part of a group both perform better and engage in more opportunities to share ideas.
  • Perhaps due to the reasons cited above, PI does not uniformly improve students’ course grades.
Differences in Implementation
Unproductive Peer Discussion

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Cite this guide: Knight JK, Brame CJ. (2018) Evidence Based Teaching Guide: Peer Instruction. CBE Life Science Education. Retrieved from
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