Skip to main content

Peer Instruction – Krishna Pakala

Krishna Pakala is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. He is passionate about teaching, and always on the lookout to find innovative teaching and learning strategies. Although in the past he used mostly evidence-based instructional practices, this past summer he decided to take steps to increase the peer-to-peer interaction in his classroom.

View Transcript

Krishna’s Approach:

To begin the peer-to-peer instruction, Professor Pakala implemented the following strategies: students took a quiz individually, then they took the quiz as a group, and then they were given a chance to interact with each other and answer the questions. He then discussed with the entire class the answers to the questions. He observed that when the students were taking quizzes individually, there was pin-drop silence in the class; but when instructed to “go talk with each other, with your neighbor,” there was a huge buzz in the classroom. As students worked together, new ideas began to emerge and they were surprised that technology could be used in so many different ways. Although they had previously been familiar with gaming, chatting and Skyping, they were very intrigued  when showed ways that past students have used technology in the classroom. They were excited to start using new applications and appreciated knowing how a device could be so useful.


  • The students became more engaged in the classroom
  • There are more people now taking notes in the classroom, which contributes to their learning success
  • Students are learning to access the multi-use and multi-functional tools of their mobile devices
  • Ability to do a quick quiz, where the instructor gets immediate results and is able to give immediate feedback
  • With the push of a button, students can go back to their notes to solve problems together in the class
  • Ability to record lectures to aid in personal learning as well as with the peer-to-peer interaction


  • Because some students are not as digitally fluent, it is helpful to prepare tutorials for them ahead of time.
  • Creating a Technology Help section on the course site, where students can quickly review specific videos in preparation for using technology in the classroom, is very useful.


  • Buskist, W., & Groccia, J. E.  (2011).  Evidence-based teaching: Now and in the future.  New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 128, 105-111.  doi:10.1002/tl.473
  •  Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E.  (2001).  Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results.  American Journal of Physics, 69, 970-977.  doi:10.1119/1.1374249
  •  Fraser, J. M., Timan, A. L., Miller, K., Dowd, J. E., Tucker, L. T., & Mazur, E.  (2014).  Teaching and physics education research: Bridging the gap.  Reports on Progress in Physics, 77, 1-17.  doi:10.1088/0034-4885/77/3/032401
  •  Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P.  (2014).  Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.  PNAS, 111, 8410-8415.  doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111
  •  Chen, B., & Denoyelles, A.  (2013, October 7).  Exploring students’ mobile learning practices in higher education.  Educause review online.  Retrieved from