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Social Sci LibreTexts

3 - Scientific Teaching in Action

  • Page ID
  • Learning Objectives:

    Participants will be able to:

    • articulate the benefits of using student response systems like clickers in your class
    • compare and contrast the various ways to implement a clicker question
      • when do you re-poll
      • when do you ask students to discuss
      • when do you explain the answer vs have students explain their reasoning
    • describe 5 best practices of clicker implementation

    Effective Use of Clickers: Using Clicker to Maximize Student Learning

    Article by Smith et. al (Science, 2009): Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions

    Clickers have the potential to:

    • Engage students
    • Give students practice on important concepts
    • Give the instructor insight into what students are thinking
    • Give students insight into what they do not understand

    Challenges implementing clicker questions:

    • Student buy-in:
      • Explain why you are doing this (show research, etc...). Remind the students that sharing ideas is learning.
      • Demonstrate why you are doing this (let them practice peer discussion).
    • Student fear/motivation:
      • Make it safe - value all answers that students are willing to share.
      • Give low-stakes incentives:
        • Participation points vs. points for correct answers
        • At the end of a semester, substitute average clicker score for the worst homework score if it is better
        • At the end of a semester, give full points if they've answered 75% of clicker questions

    Implementation Tips

    Implementation Tip #1: Use clicker questions to focus on important learning objectives

    • Low-order questions rarely promote meaningful discussion/learning, and encourages overconfidence.
    • High-order questions - questions that really challenge students - maximize learning, and are a better use of class time.

    Implementation Tip #2: Use peer discussion

    Implementation of iClickers.png

    Implementation Tip #3: Do not show the histogram after a vote unless students are evenly split - wait until after student reasons have been shared

    • Students are 30% more likely to switch to a popular vote if they see the histogram (Perez et al., 2010).
    • Students that picked an unpopular choice may be reluctant to participate in discussions.

    Implementation Tip #4: Whenever you value student reasoning, cue them to discuss their ideas

    • Kinds of Cues:
      • Answer Centered: "Discuss your answers, we will talk about the correct answer afterwards."
      • Reasoning Centered: "Discuss your answers focusing on the reasoning, we will share your ideas afterwards."
    • When students were prompted to use reasoning, they were significantly more likely to engage with their groups.

    Implementation Tip #5: Follow up - make sure many voices are heard

    • Possible Techniques:
      • Ask for volunteers to describe why they chose an answer
      • Put students into informal groups, and randomly call on groups to articulate why they chose an answer

    Additional References:

    Session Slides:

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