Predict, Observe Explain (POE).
This technique can take a few minutes or up to an hour
to conclude if a good topic is chosen. It has the advantage of drawing out
students' prior views, having them explain and defend them, valuing student
knowledge as central to learning new ideas, generating a strong "need
to know", and ensuring that misconceptions are resolved not
just blanketed with new "correct" notions. It can work in large
groups as well as small.
- Explain the situation to be considered (see rules
for picking topics).
- Question to ensure the problem is understood. Stress
the possiblity of many possible answers.
- Ask students to predict the outcome of the problem.
The prediction must be specific and all predictions are recorded with
equal value on an OHP or board. It is vital that no response other than
a "thank you" is given by the teacher.
- Ask for students to defend their prediction. Why do
they predict as they have? What reasoning did they use to come to their
prediction? Record key elements of arguments - mark up concepts on the
board as they arise. These can be developed later. Again all knowledge
must come from the students. The teacher must make no judgement of any
sort to any response. Students will usually cull the absurd anyway. If
necessary clarifying questions can be used to highlight problems (use
- Ask for any rebuttals. Try and sum up arguments for
the different points of view. Tease out the critical differences and the
arguments. Confirm with students that you have all the different views.
- Ask for all students to make a final prediction, using
any information or ideas raised in the discussion. This should be a real
commitment - either written down or by an obvious show of hands. Students
must make a decision about what they think before the experiment/demonstration
- Demonstrate. Students make their own observation - and
record what they saw without discussion.
- Ask for observations. What was seen? Was it what they
predicted? Is there consistency in observation. If not, why, and what
has to be done to resolve the inconsistency? There may be issues raised
about measurement error, reliability, repeatability etc. They may also
see what they believe!
- Students to explain what happened in terms of the concepts
brought forward at the start. Which ideas were right, which wrong, and
why? All arguments put forward have to be resolved particularly
those found to be incorrect. What thinking led to the incorrect prediction?
What misconceptions can be uncovered?
- What further experiments may be required to resolve
any left over questions? There may not be time to do them, but they can
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