A Comparison of Students’ Understanding of Concepts in Fluid Mechanics through Peer Instruction and the T5 Learning Model

Sura Wuttiprom


Peer discussions are effective in facilitating active learning in both lectures and online forums and this is supported by research indicating an increase in students’ conceptual understanding as a result of the interactions. This research aims to compare student understandings of concepts in fluid mechanics after deploying peer discussion as a teaching method in two different formats (T5 Learning Model and Peer Instruction). The T5 Learning Model is the developed form of Mazur’s Peer Instruction in an online environment. This paper mainly focuses on comparing the outcome between Peer Instruction in classroom and the T5 Learning Model. The sample group comprised the first year students majoring in engineering, who registered for the class of introductory physics. A group of students (N=148) was taught through the established Peer Instruction (PI) method developed by Eric Mazur from Harvard University; another group (N=223) was taught through the new T5 Model, which is an on line peer discussion forum developed at the University of Waterloo, Canada. The Fluid Mechanics Conceptual Test (FMCT) was designed to assess students’ understanding of basic fluid mechanics concepts. The FMCT is a 12-item, two-tier test. The first tier of an item is a conventional multiple-choice question with four choices. The second tier presents some reasons for the given answer for the first tier. The research results illustrate that both the PI and T5 Model as used in this study enable students to obtain ‘learning gains’ in accordance to Hake’s method, at the level of medium gain (0.54 and0.52 respectively). While this study demonstrates that the T5 Model is another peer discussion teaching method that is as effective as the PI teaching method, more research needs to be undertaken to support this comparison.

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