Faculty Luncheon Series: Talking about our Teaching


Monday, September 11, 2017, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


The Brooks Room

Promoting Collaborative Learning and Formative Assessment through the Use of Two Stage Exams

Discussion Leader: Kelly Miller, PhD, Lecturer on Applied Physics and SEAS LInc Faculty Associate 
You are invited to join SEAS LInc and Kelly Miller for a discussion around the use of two stage exams to introduce collaborative learning and formative assessment. 

Reading: C. E. Wieman , G. W. Rieger , and C. E. Heiner, “Physics exams that promote collaborative learning,” Phys. Teach. 52, 51–53 (2014).

The two-stage exam is a relatively simple way to introduce collaborative learning and formative assessment into an exam. Their use is rapidly growing in the physics department at the University of British Columbia, as both students and faculty find them rewarding. In a two-stage exam, students first complete and turn in the exam individually, and then, working in small groups, answer the exam questions again. During the second stage, the room is filled with spirited and effective debate with nearly every student participating. This provides students with immediate targeted feedback supplied by discussions with their peers. Furthermore, we see indications that the use of this exam format not only ensures consistency across interactive course components, but it also positively impacts how students approach the other collaborative course components. This is accomplished without losing the summative assessment of individual performance that is the expectation of exams for most instructors. In this paper, we describe how to implement two-stage exams and provide arguments why they should be part of physics courses that use interactive engagement and social/collaborative learning methods.