15 November, 2011

Introduction to Using Clickers in Higher Education

Clickers (also known as Audience Response Systems, Classroom Communication Systems, and Personal Response Systems, among other things), are systems that support audience participation in lectures.

Some use these tools are used in large group sessions as part of efforts to -:

  • Allow anonymous interaction
    • These systems can be used to encourage anonymous answering of questions where the teacher feels that would be beneficial to encouraging participation, or for ethical reasons.
  • Increase engagement
    • Some teachers believe that asking the students questions at the start, or part way through a lecture can help keep the students focused.
  • Start discussions
    • Perhaps the most talked about use of Clickers is as part of the Peer Instruction method. In this method students would be asked to answer a question which is designed so that only students with a grasp of certain concepts will be able to answer it correctly. Students see the range of answers on a big screen and are asked to defend their answer to the people sitting next to them. They then vote again, and there should be a move towards the correct answer. The lecturer can then take over if they feel that is necessary.
    • This seems to work best in subjects where a key to learning is helping students understand none-intuitive concepts. Examples are Physics (see the work of Eric Mayer, and watch a video of a presentation by him) or Mechanical Engineering (see the work at the Univerisity of Strathclyde).
  • Aid Contingent Teaching and diagnosis of common misunderstandings
    • A lecturer with well written questions can identify where lots of the class are misunderstanding a concept.
  • Record answers
    • If anonymity is not required, it is possible to record answers for individual student’s summative assessment.
If you want to look a bit more closely at some of these methods, especially Peer Instruction, the following journal articles might be of interest. 

1 comment:

Elise Wrence said...

Thanks for sharing this post, very educational page.