Using Clicker Technology in Large Classes
As you prepare to submit your textbook orders this week, remember to alert the Bookstore if you plan to use student response systems (“clickers”) in your class next semester so they can have an adequate supply of used and new clickers available at the lowest possible cost for students.
Are you still “on the fence” about using clickers? Embedding questions in a large lecture and requiring student responses via clickers can motivate students to attend class, complete readings and assignments as preparation for class discussion, generate interest in course material, evaluate student learning mid-lecture, or apply new learning to conceptual or practical problems. The types of questions posed and how the instructor uses student responses are important for the successful use of these devices.
Woelk (2008) provides a useful taxonomy of the types of questions that can be posed:
- I am here (attendance questions, demographic questions)
- I am prepared (factual questions about the assigned reading)
- I am interested (questions that pose course topics in a context that relates to student interest – e.g., preceding a discussion of saline concentrations with a question about the mass of salt found in the blood of an average human)
- I learn (questions that evaluate student learning of a topic just covered in lecture)
- I understand (questions that evaluate conceptual understanding or application of new material presented in lecture)
- I apply (questions that require students to make a prediction based on new learning)
- I will (questions that pose an open-ended problem for students to consider before the next class – questions that bridge the content of adjacent classes)
Students enrolled in sections of courses that included clicker questions during lectures outperformed students enrolled in sections (taught by the same instructor) in which students could answer questions as an optional out-of-class activity (Radosevich, et al., 2008; Reay, 2008; Woelk, 2008). The improvements observed in exam performance persist in long-term follow-up exams.
Adapted from: University of West Florida’s Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.
Bruff, D. (2009). Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (In the CELT Library)
CELT. (2009). Clickers in the Classroom Quick Start Guide from the HSU’s Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching. (Available from CELT)
EDUCAUSE. (2005). 7 Things You Should Know About Clickers. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2009, from EDUCAUSE website: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7002.pdf
Radosevich, D. J., Salomon, R., Radosevich, D., M., & Kahn, P. (2008). Using student response systems to increase motivation, learning, and knowledge retention. Innovate 5 (1). Retrieved from Innovate website Sept. 30, 2008: http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=499
Reay, N. W., Li, P., & Bao, L. (2008). Testing a new voting machine question methodology. American Journal of Physics, 76, 171-178.
Woelk, K. (2008). Optimizing the use of personal response devices (clickers) in large-enrollment introductory courses. Journal of Chemical Education, 85, 1400-1405.