Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Using Clickers in Teaching and Learning

As we near the end of the calendar year, we've seen a steady growth in interest for the clickers (audience response systems) at UCS Ipswich. Between September and December 2011, we have had 28 bookings (excludes bookings for Student Induction), from 13 people (so lots of repeat bookings).

There seems to be more discussion around effective use of Clickers in face to face teaching to promote more student interaction, feedback and reflection. To help this process, when asked where should I start when thinking about using Clickers in my teaching, I'd suggest the following the following guide, coffee and cake. This spend time on discussing the effective implementation plans. The summary from the Instructors guide to effective use of personal response systems (clickers) in Teaching, is

  • Clickers are not a magic bullet – they are not necessarily useful as an end in themselves. Clickers become useful when you have a clear idea as to what you want to achieve with them, and the questions are designed to improve student engagement and instructor-student interaction.

  • What clickers do provide is a way to rapidly collect an answer to a question from every student; an answer for which they are individually accountable. This allows rapid reliable feedback to both you and the students.

  • Used properly, clickers can tell you when students are disengaged and/or confused, why this has happened, and can help you to fix the situation.

  • The best questions focus on concepts you feel are particularly important and involve challenging ideas with multiple plausible answers that reveal student confusion and generate spirited student discussion.

  • A common mistake is to use clicker questions that are too easy. Students value challenging questions more and learn more from them. Students often learn the most from a question that they get wrong.

  • For challenging questions, students should be given some time to think about the clicker question on their own, and then discuss with their peers.

  • Good clicker questions and discussion result in deeper, more numerous questions from a much wider range of students than in traditional lecture.

  • Listening to the student discussions will allow you to much better understand and address student thinking.

  • Even though you will sacrifice some coverage of content in class, students will be more engaged and learn much more of what you do cover.

  • When clickers are used correctly, students overwhelmingly support their use and say they help their learning.

You can access a full copy of An Instructors Guide to the Effective Use of Personal Response Systems (Clickers) in Teaching from University of British Columbria from http://www.colorado.edu/sei/documents/clickeruse_guide0108.pdf


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