Cover for Getting an Honest Answer paperAuthors: Dan Levy, Joshua Yardley, Richard Zeckhauser

Some preliminary experiments the authors conducted suggested that when instructors asked students to raise their hands to indicate support for a certain answer or position, the results they got were very different than those that would be obtained through the use of polling devices (i.e. clickers). The authors hypothesized that raising hands is an act subject to peer influence, and hence serves as a poor indicator of what students are really thinking. The authors therefore conducted experiments more broadly and systematically across several classrooms, and assessed the types of questions in which the raising of hands were more (or less) likely to be an accurate indicator of the distribution of answers in the classroom. This study is still in progress, but its findings are already helping to inform pedagogic practices at the Kennedy School and beyond. 

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