Teachers liven classroom with clicking
Students may be surprised to see an extra item on their school supply list soon, as the use of clickers, wireless response devices that allow instructors to collect students’ responses instantly, has become increasingly popular at UH.
“Clickers give students a voice,” assistant professor Lindsay Schwarz said.
Schwarz said she has been using the clickers in her pharmacy classes.
“For example, if I pose a verbal question and ask for a show of hands, how many hands will go up? Not too many,” She said. “With clickers, student may anonymously respond. I think clickers keep students focused and attentive, and clickers help me see how I’m doing, with my explanations of the material.”
This semester there are about 43 instructors who are using the clickers; 14 of them are first-time users.
“Clickers have been implemented successfully on campus, and I see that more instructors are inquiring about clicker use and asking for help to implement the clicker technology into their courses,” instructional designer Q. Park said.
Clickers were introduced to UH in 2005, and in Fall 2009 the campus switched to Turning Technologies brand clickers, which have an integration feature that can automatically upload grades to Blackboard.
Instructors connect a clicker receiver, which has a unique channel number programmed, to their lecture computer. Students set their clicker channel to the instructor’s receiver channel. Then they use the clicker to respond to the question posed by the instructor.
After polling is closed, the class results are displayed on a PowerPoint slide displaying the number of students that answered correctly and incorrectly.
These devices have been used in a number of ways to benefit the classroom learning experience.
Schwarz said she uses the clicker to help her determine the existing level of knowledge of the class.
“As an instructor, I must say that the clicker answers that are recorded by the software allow me to see who is not understanding the material and help them before an exam.” She said. “Occasionally, the majority of the class will show me, through clicker use, that I was not clear with my topic discussion. In this instance, I have the opportunity to stop, assess misconceptions and make the necessary clarifications.”
Through various clicker strategies, instructors are able to test students on material that has been taught.
“In addition to taking attendance, I use the clickers for weekly quizzes over the assigned readings and for what I call challenge questions,” history professor Nancy Young said. “Because the questions often involve interpreting a short quote from a historical figure we are studying, students increase their analytical and critical thinking skills with these exercises, hopefully boosting their exam performance on major exams.”
Instructors said they have seen positive results by letting students use the clickers to get extra credit.
“I typically ask between two and four of these questions per class session, and students accumulate bonus points for correct answers to these questions,” Young said. “These (clicker) strategies have two big benefits for students: class attendance rates are higher and grades are better because students are more likely to do the reading if they are held accountable on a regular basis.”
Schwarz said she also uses the clickers to give her students an opportunity to get extra credit.
“I use a previously used and discussed clicker question as an opportunity for extra credit on each exam. A student can earn extra credit by getting the questions correct on exams only if they were in class the day the question was posed and discussed.”
There are two models used on campus – the RF and RF-LCD. The RF can be purchased at CougarByte for $35 and the RF-LCD can be purchased at the campus bookstore for $45. While they work the same way, the RF-LCD clicker has an LCD panel that displays the user’s answer choices.
“I highly recommend their use. I’ve seen a bored, distracted class become much more engaged with clickers, especially when they are used as the ‘carrot’ to encourage their use for learning sake,” Schwarz said.