Peer learning as a key component of an Integrated Teaching Method: Overcoming the complexities of Physics teaching in large size classes
Matteo Bozzi, Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli, Maurizio Zani
Education Sciences 11, 2, 67 (2021) – doi 10.3390/educsci11020067
In the last decade policy makers have urged universities to innovate their teaching methodologies. Although the educational research has shown that active methods lead to improvements in learners’ performance more than traditional lectures in small classes, some factors impede active methods to spread in large size classes. This study aims at fostering these methodological innovations by showing the effectiveness of an integrated teaching methodology which employs peer learning, technology, and traditional lectures in large size classes. In the academic years 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 a quasi-experiment involved more than 600 engineering students per year attending an introductory Physics course at Politecnico di Milano. These learners were assigned to two sections and their outcomes in a pre-test and a post-test were analysed through descriptive and inferential statistics. The learning results of the experimental group were always better than the outcomes of the control group, regardless of the difficulty of the Physics topics addressed. Furthermore, a very low threshold for the exposure to peer learning has been highlighted in order for it to be effective. These promising results may thus foster ongoing changes in university policy towards the renewal of the teaching methodology.