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Clickers for Faculty Overview

Clickers (or classroom performance system) are wireless response pads used by students to provide teachers and students with immediate feedback on quizzes and polls. A series of questions is projected on a screen, and then students reply (often anonymously), their selections are captured, and the distribution of answers to each question is projected on the screen and recorded in the application for further analysis.

How two instructors use Clickers in their courses

Glenn Pellegrin, a faculty member in the School of Manufacturing, Electronics, and Industrial Processes (MEIP), uses clickers to promote participation and interaction in a large lecture class with over 70 students.

Using peer instruction methods, Glenn posts 7 – 8 multiple-choice questions (which include detailed graphics), and has students discuss the possible answers in pairs (2 students share a clicker). Students choose the answer they think is the correct one. Once the responses are all in, students are instantaneously able to see the distribution of all students’ answers. Instead of addressing only the correct answer, Glenn takes the time to explain why the other responses are not correct and answers any additional student questions. This process encourages many students to participate and to think critically about concepts introduced in the class or in the course readings.

Tom Wells, a faculty member in the School of Health, uses clickers in his Medical Laboratory Science class. Tom usually uses clickers to gauge student understanding of concepts during class. Each student uses their own clicker. He also uses clickers during exam reviews and has found students more focussed during these review sessions. Students are able to see not only whether their own response is accurate, but also how well they are doing relative to their peers.

He has found that clickers have added a new level of engagement in his classes, and that more students participate actively when innovative approaches like clickers are integrated into the classroom.

Both Glenn and Tom agree that while learning how to use the clickers was not difficult, the biggest time commitment was in carefully crafting questions and possible answers, then sequencing those questions to best help students learn.

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