What are Clickers? How to increase student engagement in the classroom using Clickers?

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How to foster meaningful engagement among students is a long standing question in lecture halls.

High-enrolment classes present challenges to many basic principles and established best practices in teaching and learning.

Instructors in lecture halls often face difficulty

  • Drawing out prior knowledge or misconceptions
  • Motivating students, maintaining their attention
  • Creating opportunities for meaningful engagement
  • Assessing student comprehension
  • Developing classroom activities that allow for the application of key concepts to practical problems.

For over 40 years, electronic classroom response systems have been used as potential bridge for this communication gap between lectures and students.

A classroom response system (CRS) or Clickers is any system used in a face to face setting to poll students and gather immediate feedback in response to questions posed by instructors.

There are three categories of activities involved in using a classroom response system

  • Presentation and Questioning
  • Student Response and display
  • Data management and analysis

Instruction and Questioning:

In class, the instructor presents concepts and materials with slides asking for feedback from students.

Questions are typically in True or False, multiple choice format.

Question slides can be placed in line with regular lecture presentations so instructors can gather feedback on the fly / Question slides can be placed at the end of the lecture.

Students are typically given a short period of time to key in responses.

Response and Display:

Students key in responses using small remote transmitters / smart phone apps.

These transmitters / smartphone apps send responses to a receiver connected to instructor’s laptop or smartphone.

Software on the laptop / smartphone instantly tabulates and graphs students responses and these simple graphs can be displayed on the projector.

One of the more compelling aspects of using CRS is that students can compare their own responses to the responses of other students in a class, which can encourage a level of metacognition that might not otherwise occur.

Once students see the distribution of responses, instructors can encourage the students to reconsider the quedtion in groups and to reach an agreement about the best response.

Instructors following the second cycle of quetioning, response and display before moving to the next question can help in increasing the retention ratio. This approach is often referred to as peer instructions.

Data management and Analysis:

Most Clickers allows the instructors to export and save response data for future analysis and assessment. Students responses can be tracked over the course of the semester and simplifies the assessment process.

When clickers used effectively increases student engagement, attention as well as motivation by invoking the “Fun Factor”

Are you using clickers in your class room? Do share your experiences with us.

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