study done by Professor Eric Mazur of Harvard University, a member of this panel (Mazur, 1997).

Box 3-1. Excerpt from Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual

MEMORIZATION VERSUS UNDERSTANDING

To understand these seemingly contradictory observations, I decided to pair, on subsequent examinations, simple qualitative questions with more difficult quantitative problems on the same physical concept. An example of a set of such questions on dc circuits is shown in Figure 1.1. These questions were given as the first and last problem on a midterm examination in the spring of 1991 in a conventionally taught class (the other three problems on the examination, which were placed between these two, dealt with different subjects and are omitted here).

  1. A series circuit consists of three identical light bulbs connected to a battery as shown here. When the switch S is closed, do the following increase, decrease, or stay the same?

  1. The intensities of bulbs A and B

  2. The intensity of bulb C

  3. The current drawn from the battery

  4. The voltage drop across each bulb

  5. The power dissipated in the circuit

  1. For the circuit shown, calculate (α) the current in the 2-Ω resistor and (b) the potential difference between points P and Q.

Figure 1.1 Conceptual (top) and conventional question (bottom) on the subject of dc circuits. These questions were given on a written examination in 1991.



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