Academics & Research

To click or not to click

Professor Long S. Le learned a major lesson about students and ethics, thanks to the use of clicker response systems or classroom clickers in his courses.

Le, who also serves as the Director of International Initiatives for Global Studies, said that in one of his classes, the majority of students expressed disregard for ethics.

“It seems that a number of them don’t actually believe in it yet to a point that they would practice ethics,” Le said. “What this means to me is that we have to teach in a different way so that students really believe in ethics and not that it’s forced upon them.”

He said that if he had not used the clickers for his classes, he may have never received such an honest response from his business students.

“I use the clicker to ask questions that would be hard to ask students individually, like ethics,” Le said. “Using the clickers, they can be honest because I have no idea who says what. If you raise your hand, I would know who you are.”

Classroom clickers allow students to answer questions through an electronic response system, which has allowed UH instructors to use them to to take attendance as well as administer polls and quizzes.

Le received training to use the device and participates in a faculty group that shares ideas on using the classroom clickers.

He will use the clickers to administer his version of “Deal or No Deal,” which allows the class to earn extra points on the midterm.

Licensed Psychologist Carolyn Miller was pleased to learn of the use of classroom clickers.

The UH alumna said the anonymity provided through the technology may lead to increased participation, especially from students who are introvert or shy.

“Some classes at UH are massive — 300 to 400 students,” she said. “Sometimes people are very apprehensive. This gives people a chance to interact in class without the social pressure.”

Miller also agreed that Le would have had a different response if he did not use the clicker to ask ethics questions.

“The students would give a socially acceptable response,” she said.

“Anonymity allows people to give honest opinions. They are less likely to give an honest opinion if they feel there will be some level of recourse.”

Architecture sophomore Alexander Guajardo will use the clicker for his first time this semester.

So far, his professor has only used the device to take attendance.

Guajardo said cheating might become an issue as his professor will also use the device for quizzes.

“You have to use the buttons to answer, and the buttons are kind of big,” he said. “So others students can see what buttons you are pressing. Plus, it has a display screen.

“I think that defeats the whole purpose of quizzing, but it’s easier for the professor.”

Guajardo also expressed concern about the cost of clickers, especially since they cannot be returned. The UH bookstore has them for about $43.

“It costs almost as much as a book,” he said.


  • i thought i came up with this idea, but i guess it's been around for a while. either way – great idea! it's ridiculous that they make students buy these clickers though. that's obviously something that they won't need in the future. the school should buy them. that's pretty ridiculous.

    other students can see scantrons too. this saves paper and it would save money if it wasn't students buying them.

  • I'm not really a fan of clickers. I understand the benefits mentioned in the article, but I feel the disadvantages outweigh those.

    Like on quizzes, people can of course spot their neighbor's motions, or take a glance at notes, and the professor can't control all of that at once. Might as well make a digital app for those with smartphones and laptops/tablets for cheaper, and it will at least ensure students are participating on those screens, rather than browsing Facebook.

    Plus, if the battery goes out, you're so out of luck. Even if you had a spare battery, do you have a microscrewdriver on hand to pry it out? They could at least put a small solar panel strip like they have on calculators. Or sometimes you worry if the clicker won't register. Etc.

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