but for the first one, you really do. Another
thing you can do is pick a set of icons. I
usually have a triton (for UCSD), a coffee
cup (for Java), and a bug. Then, have each
individual in a group pick one. Then every
day I pick one and say, “All the coffee cups,
raise your hand. Okay, you all are starting
discussion today.” It gives authority to that
person to step up and start the discussion
when it’s time.
Beth Quinn: Absolutely, using named
roles empowers those individuals to speak.
And your TAs, with a little training, can
help facilitate good communication within
the teams. They can learn to watch for
people being closed out and the body
language that comes with it.
Peer Instruction is absolutely the number
one recommendation I give to faculty. It’s
closest to their natural practice. It gets the
least kickback from students. You can do it
in a lecture hall. And when you try it, stop
for a moment and listen during the student
discussions. They’re talking. All the way
to the back! I had no idea you could have
a classroom like that. And guess what?
They’re learning [ 7, 8]!
• Check out more of the interview with
Beth Simon on NCWIT’s website [ 9].
• Learn more about Peer Instruction on
the website created by Beth Simon and
her colleagues [ 6].
• Explore a full range of collaborative
learning techniques, like Peer Instruction, on EngageCSEdu [ 3, 4] and find
peer-reviewed introductory computer
science course materials using these
The author would like to thank Beth Simon for her
time and her insight, the social science team at NCWI T
for jointly crafting the evidence-based Engagement
Practices Framework which serves as the backbone of
EngageCSEdu, and to Google for providing funding for
development of the EngageCSEdu platform.
1. Crouch, C. H. and Mazur, E. Peer Instruction: Ten
years of experience and results. American Journal of
Physics 69, 9 (2001), 970–977.
2. Dweck, Carol. What Having a “Growth Mindset”
Actually Means. Harvard Business Review (January
13, 2016); http://thebusinessleadership.academy/wp-
Mindset-Means.pdf. Accessed 2018 January 15.
3. EngageCSEdu, Collaborative Learning; https://www.
2018 February 15.
4. EngageCSEdu; https://www.engage-csedu.org.
Accessed 2018 March 07.
5. National Center for Women & Information
Technology. NCWI T Tips: 8 Ways to Give Students
More Effective Feedback Using a Growth Mindset
(2014); www.ncwit.org/feedbackstudent. Accessed
2018 January 15.
6. Peer Instruction for Computer Science; http://www.
peerinstruction4cs.org. Accessed 2018 February 1.
7. Porter, L., Bailey-Lee, C. and Simon, B. Halving
Fail Rates using Peer Instruction: A Study of
Four Computer Science Courses. Proceedings of
the Special Interest Group on Computer Science
Education (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium, March
8. Porter, L., Bouvier, D., Cutts, Q., Grissom, S. Lee, C.
McCartney, R., Zingaro, D. and Simon, B. A Multi-Institutional Study of Peer Instruction in Introductory
Computing. Proceedings of the Special Interest
Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE)
Technical Symposium, March (2016), 358–363.
9. Quinn, B.A. More from the 2018 Interview with Beth
Simon on Peer Instruction; https://www.ncwit.org/
MoreBethSimonInterview. Accessed 2018 April 15.
10. University of Colorado Science Education Initiative
and the UBC Carl Wieman Science Education
Institute. Clicker Resource Guide: An Instructor’s
Guide to the Effective Use of Personal Response
Systems (Clickers) in Teaching; https://www.
CWSEI_CU-SEI.pdf. Accessed 2018 February 10.
11. Wieman, C. and Gilbert, S. Taking a Scientific
Approach to Science Education, Part I. Microbe, 10, 4
Beth A. Quinn
University of Colorado at Boulder
National Center for Women &
DOI: 10.1145/3194243 Copyright held by authors.
Available for iPad,
iPhone, and Android
Available for iOS,
Android, and Windows
“… stop for a
moment and listen
during the student
talking. All the way
to the back! I had no
idea you could have
a classroom like that.
And guess what?