If you were a professor giving instruction in a lecture hall, could you measure learning of the whole class at only 30 seconds? Probably not. Classroom clickers definitely have their advantages, especially in large classrooms. Classroom clickers can help to increase classroom participation they offer a convenient way to give both students and teachers feedback.
Firstly, for those of you who don’t know much about clickers, they are audience response systems, and it resembles “Ask the Audience” portion of “Who Wants to be A Millionaire” show.
Their first advantage is students’ rising involvement in lessons with the help of clickers. I think most of us find it difficult to speak up in large classes. Underlying reasons can be fear of public mistakes or embarrassment. To that end, clickers help to create a non-threatening classroom environment because nobody knows which student answered correctly or wrongly. To show you the boost in student responses with clickers, on January 22th, 2013, I consulted the website maintained by the University of New Mexico. In the section entitled “Maximizing Dialogue with Group Response Systems”, students reported that if their answers are submitted by clicker, they are more likely to work on a question than by show of hands.
The second advantage of clickers is immediate feedback to both students and teachers. Firstly, students have an opportunity to see correct and incorrect answers on large screen and then they can take guidance about their performances by their instructors. In that way, feedback attains its goal namely – improving learning. In a 2008 study published in The Journal of Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, professors Davis and White verified that assumption by comparing grade distribution of two sections in West Virginia University. The bar graph below helps to illustrate their findings.
The yellow bar that represents class with clickers is higher in A, B, D grades compared to blue one that symbolizes the class without clickers. As can be understood, clickers help students get better grades, and decrease the chance of failing.
Well, is feedback only for students? Teachers take feedback, too. If instructors see that the correct answer rate in the classroom is low, they understand that their teaching method is not appropriate for learners to succeed. Professor Caldwell addresses that issue in his 2007 study published in Journal of Life Sciences Education. He revealed that the instructor feedback provided by clickers leads to changes in teaching approach. From that note, we comprehend not only students but also teachers improve their performances positively with the help of clickers.
Thanks to clickers, while students participate more during lessons, they can take feedback. Also, instructors can conclude some decisions about their teaching strategies. I hope such important tools presenting rich information only in few seconds will be used in many more universities in the future.
- Caldwell, D.(2007). Clickers in the Large Classroom. The Journal of Life Sciences Education, 6, (5), 9-20.
- Cutts Q., Kennedy G., Mitchell C.,& Draper S. (2004). Maximizing Dialogue with Group Response Systems. Retrieved January 22, 2013, from http://www.unm.edu/~oset/teachingwithclickers.html
- Davis, H., White, S. (2003).Using a Personal Response System for Promoting Student Interaction. The Journal of Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 22, (4), 163-169.