CAE Think-Pair-Share

Developed by: Center for Astronomy Education

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

 Intro College Calculus-based
calc based
 Intro College Algebra-based
alg based
 Intro College Conceptual

Lecture - Large (30+ students)  Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Studio

What? Engage students in lecture classes by asking cognitively engaging multiple-choice questions to challenge their thinking and foster deep discussion. Students vote with colored cards, try to convince their neighbors, and vote again. Resources help instructors make this method as effective as possible.

Why? Question sets are carefully crafted to go well beyond formative assessment by requiring students to extract information and integrate multiple representations. Easy to set up; very little is required except a projector and paper.

Why not? CAE Lecture Tutorials lack answer keys or suggested supplementary materials for finding correct answers. Implementation requires direct oversight by experienced teachers or those who have completed CAE workshops.

Example materials


Student skills developed

Designed for:
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Using multiple representations
Can be adapted for:
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Making real-world connections

Instructor effort required

  • Low

Developer's website: CAE Think-Pair-Share
Intro Article: R. French and E. Prather, Uncovering the unknown unknowns of Peer Instruction Questions, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2018, Washington, DC, 2018.

You can download many Astronomy Think-Pair-Share questions for free from the Center for Astronomy Education or from the ClassAction Questions List of over 500 questions.

See our Expert Recommendation on finding good questions to use with clickers or Peer Instruction for an extensive list of databases of think/pair/share questions, as well as suggestions for writing your own questions.

Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • at least 1 of the "based on" categories
  • at least 1 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 1 of the "studied using" categories
(Categories shown below)

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • theories of how students learn
  • student ideas about specific topics

Demonstrated to Improve:

  • conceptual understanding
  • problem-solving skills
  • lab skills
  • beliefs and attitudes
  • attendance
  • retention of students
  • success of underrepresented groups
  • performance in subsequent classes

Studied using:

  • cycle of research and redevelopment
  • student interviews
  • classroom observations
  • analysis of written work
  • research at multiple institutions
  • research by multiple groups
  • peer-reviewed publication


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