In some disciplines, especially the physical sciences, demonstrations are used during lectures to show how abstract or complex concepts work in practical applications. However, passive demonstrations are often misunderstood by students and therefore do not improve student learning (Zimrot and Ashkenazi 2007, Mazzolini et al. 2011).
Interactive lecture demonstrations incorporate student participation in the demonstration using the active learning technique PODS (Predict, Observe, Discuss, and Synthesize; Tanahoung et al. 2009, Mazzolini et al. 2011). Overall, interactive demonstrations using PODS increase student understanding of the concepts when compared to passive demonstrations (Zimrot and Ashkenazi 2007) or traditional lectures (without demonstrations; Mazzolini et al. 2011, Tanahoung et al. 2009).
The PODS process has eight steps (Tanahoung et al. 2009, Mazzolini et al. 2011).
- The first step is to explain the demonstration by describing the equipment, how measurements are taken, and providing an overview of the demonstration without conducting the demonstration.
- Next, the students are asked to make individual predictions (P) for what will occur during the demonstration.
- Students then discuss their predictions with other students in small groups.
- The group predictions are then shared during a short class discussion.
- After the class discussion, students finalize and write down their predictions for the demonstration.
- The instructor conducts the demonstration and records measurements while students observe the demonstration (O).
- Students are then asked to describe the results of the demonstration in small groups or as a class (D) before writing out their individual responses for the results.
- Finally, the class discusses other situations where the same underlying concept or principle is occurring and compares the demonstration to these new situations (S).
At the end of the activity, students turn in their PODS answers/worksheets for the instructor to assess. In some courses, the instructor may decide to provide more structure to the activity by providing multiple-choice questions instead of open-ended responses (Zimrot and Ashkenazi 2007). However, it is recommended to only implement multiple-choice questions when the instructor has a good understanding of common student misconceptions (usually identified by open-ended questions from previous years using the demonstration). If multiple-choice questions are used, the instructor could use electronic response systems to elicit student responses to the multiple-choice questions during the different stages of the demonstration and PODS steps (Zimrot and Ashkenazi 2007).
Mazzolini, A., T. Edwards, W. Rachinger, S. Nopparatjamjomras, and O. Shepherd (2011) The use of interactive lecture demonstrations to improve students’ understanding of operational amplifiers in a tertiary introductory electronics course. Latin American Journal of Physical Education 5:147-153.
Tanahoung, C., R. Chitaree, C. Soankwan, M. D. Sharma, and I. D. Johnston (2009). The effect of interactive lecture demonstrations on students’ understanding of heat and temperature: a study from Thailand. Research in Science & Technology Education 27:61-74.
Zimrot, R. and G. Ashkenazi (2007) Interactive lecture demonstrations: a tool for exploring and enhancing conceptual change. Chemistry Education Research and Practice 8:197-211.
This page was authored by Michele Larson and last updated June 10, 2022