What Type of Debrief is Best for Learning during Think-Pair-Shares?
Copious research demonstrates the benefits of adding active learning to traditional lectures to enhance learning and reduce failure/withdrawal rates. However, many questions remain about how best to implement active learning to maximize student outcomes. This paper investigates several “second generation” questions regarding infusing active learning, via Think-Pair-Share (TPS), into a large lecture course in Computer Science. During the “Share” phase of TPS, what is the best way to debrief the associated course concepts with the entire class? Specifically, does student learning differ when instructors debrief the rationale for every answer choice (full debrief) versus only the correct answer (partial debrief)? And does the added value for student outcomes vary between tasks requiring recall versus deeper comprehension and/or application of concepts? Regardless of discipline, these questions are relevant to instructors implementing TPS with multiple-choice questions, especially in large lectures. Similar to prior research, when lectures included TPS, students performed significantly better (~13%) on corresponding exam items. However, students’ exam performance depended on both the type of debrief and exam questions. Students performed significantly better (~5%) in the full debrief condition than the partial debrief condition. Additionally, benefits of the full debrief condition were significantly stronger (~5%) for exam questions requiring deeper comprehension and/or application of underlying Computer Science processes, compared to simple recall. We discuss these results and lessons learned, providing recommendations for how best to implement TPS in large lecture courses in STEM and other disciplines.
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