SICSA Distinguished Visiting Fellow Talk – Dr Leo Porter: Evidence and Practicalities of Peer Instruction

Date(s) - 16/05/2022
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

This is to announce a series of talks by our SICSA distinguished visiting fellow, Leo Porter, from the University of California, San Diego. He is going to talk in two main areas:

  • Peer Instruction (Monday 16th)
  • The development of a data structures inventory for use in formative and summative assessment. (Monday 30th May)

For each topic, he will first talk about the theory underpinning the work and key research results, and then, after a break, present a more interactive session to explore how we might adopt this work in our own teaching.

These will be hybrid sessions, with discussion both in-person and on Zoom, and the opportunity for on-line attendees to ask questions of the speaker.

LOCATION: Hybrid – SAWB 422 (School of CS, Glasgow) & CCSE Zoom Room (


Session 1: 12:00-12:50 – The Evidence for Peer Instruction in Computer Science

In the past decade, Peer Instruction has become established as a best practice in teaching computer science. In this talk, I will first explore the evidence which led to Peer Instruction becoming a best practice, specifically looking at the research demonstrating Peer Instruction is valued by students in a diverse set of CS courses at a diverse set of institutions, results in in-class learning from peers and the instructor, reduces failure rates by 67%, results in better final exam performance, contributes to improved retention of computer science majors, and may scale better than traditional lecture as class sizes increase.

Session 2: 13:10-14:00 – The Practicalities of Implementing Peer Instruction in Computer Science Classes

For faculty interested in adopting Peer Instruction in their classes, there are a number of practical challenges including how to structure the new classroom experience, tell students about the change in pedagogy, and write good Peer Instruction questions. As a group, we will discuss these challenges while participating in structured activities.


Leo Porter is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at UC San Diego. He is best known for his research on the impact of Peer Instruction in computing courses, the use of clicker data to predict student outcomes, and the development of the Basic Data Structures Concept Inventory. He co-teaches the popular Coursera Specialization “Object-Oriented Java Programming: Data Structures and Beyond” with over 300,000 enrolled learners and the first course in the edX MicroMasters in Data Science, “Python for Data Science”, with over 200,000 enrolled learners. He has received six Best Paper Awards, SIGCSEs 50th Year Anniversary Top Ten Symposium Papers of All Time Award, an Outstanding Teaching Award from Warren College, and the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award at UC San Diego. He is a Distinguished Member of the ACM and currently serves as Secretary of the SIGCSE Board.

This entry was posted in .