Last changed 19 Jan 2012 ............... Length about 800 words (8,000 bytes).
(Document started on 16 Oct 2011.) This is a WWW document maintained by Steve Draper, installed at You may copy it. How to refer to it.

Web site logical path: [] [~steve] [talks] [this page]

EVS: linked questions; meta-messages

By Steve Draper,   School of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Title: Two talks in one slot: A) Linked EVS questions: rationales and representations. B) The meta-messages implicitly taught by different applications of EVS

Occasion: Workshop for Institute for Academic Development and College of Science and Engineering,   University of Edinburgh
Date/time: Wednesday 7 Dec 2011. Session: 9:30am-11:00am   (my own slot: 9:35-10:20 am).
Place:   Lecture theatre B,   James Clerk Maxwell bldg,   King's Buildings,   University of Edinburgh
How to get there:

Presenter Steve Draper,   School of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Slides: PDF
Handout: PDF file
Related material:
Draper,S.W. (2009) "Catalytic assessment: understanding how MCQs and EVS can foster deep learning" British Journal of Educational Technology vol.40 no.2 pp.285-293 see here
Link to derived :case study" notes


In this talk I discuss some current ideas in teaching with Electronic Voting Systems.

A. One thing you can do in principle with data from EVS questions used for PI (Mazur's Peer Instruction), is to look at the patterns of how students shift their opinions after discussion. For instance you can see the extent to which students migrate to the right answer, and how large a counter-current existed away from it. PI uses a repeat of the same question: the simplest form of linked questions. Mark Russell in contrast used no discussion and sets of 3 questions using the same concept to expose students who get some right answers by accident, and by relating their answers, can show the smaller number who actually understand the concept by demonstrating "transfer". Smith et al. used linked questions and PI to demonstrate not just improved answers to the original question, but transfer to a related question.

B. The most powerful teaching effect of EVS might not be related to the content of the questions, but to the meta-messages implicit in the activity or style of the session. Three cases are discussed. 1) According to the neo-Vygotskyan argument, the meta-message of PI is that science revolves around debates not assertion, and the debates depend on reasons, not authority, power, or showmanship. A child may not ever have experienced conversations of this kind: but without that, they cannot possibly understand what science is about. 2) We have used EVS for inductions in Fresher's week, where the session revolves around eliciting (anonymously) what concerns the freshers have, assembling a public short list from their suggestions, and using voting to show how concerned the group is about each issue. A panel of older students then discuss possible solutions to each concern. The meta-message is that discussing such concerns is appropriate; these topics are now common ground in the group; what the dominant view and degree of consensus on each is. This means anyone can now refer to any such topic and know how their comment will be received, thus arguably creating a sense of membership. 3) In contrast, Tufte's attack on Powerpoint amounts to the idea that the format is one of giving a headline and never getting round to giving the elaboration: and the first casualty is omitting discussion of uncertainty. When you give a lecture on, say, Newton's laws without mentioning the possibility that they might be wrong, is your meta-message undermining science?

Book here or contact Judy Hardy.

Web site logical path: [] [~steve] [talks] [this page]
[Top of this page]