5: Scientific Teaching in Action
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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 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 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
Group-work and Team-based Learning
Resources and references
Hughes, B. E., Hurtado, S., & Eagan, M. E. (2014). Driving up or dialing down competition in introductory STEM Courses: Individual and classroom level factors. A paper presented at the Association of the Study of Higher Education, Washington, DC.
Derry, S. J., Levin, J. R., Osana, H. P., Jones, M. S., & Peterson, M. (2000). Fostering students' statistical and scientific thinking: Lessons learned from an innovative college course. American Educational Research Journal, 37(3), 747-773.
Jensen, J. L., & Lawson, A. (2011). Effects of collaborative group composition and inquiry instruction on reasoning gains and achievement in undergraduate biology. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 10(1), 64-73.
Nicol, D. J., & Boyle, J. T. (2003). Peer instruction versus class-wide discussion in large classes: A comparison of two interaction methods in the wired classroom. Studies in higher education, 28(4), 457-473.
Johnson, D. W. (1991). Cooperative Learning: Increasing College Faculty Instructional Productivity. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4, 1991. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports, George Washington University, One Dupont Circle, Suite 630, Washington, DC 20036-1183.
Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of student centered learning, 2(1), 9-34.
Student Grouping Resources
SCALE-UP https://www.ncsu.edu/per/SCALEUP/Groups.html Physics activities in collaborative classroom spaces with resources for assigning group roles.
CATME https://www.catme.org/login/index provides a mechanism to use surveys to gather information about students to form diverse groups. Then, instructors can allow students to anonymously evaluate team members’ contributions. (Takes several weeks to get an account, so plan ahead.)
True Colours Personality Test (free)
StrengthsFinder (not free)
Transparency in Learning & Teaching
TILT in Higher Education website
- Student Buy-in / Framing a class
- Videos of Effective Use of Clickers
- Clicker Resource Page
- Plickers: http://www.plickers.com