Clickers: For Instructors
There have been studies in recent years, looking into the pedagogy benefits and effectiveness of clickers. Some of which are listed below under the Resources section.
Before it is adopted in the education field, clickers have been used in other areas, such as for gaming. An example is the television game “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” In this game, the player has the opportunity to Ask the Audience, in which the audience will use clicker devices to provide their answers.
In a classroom setting, each student has a clicker and uses it to respond to questions during class time. It can be used either anonymously or for marking. The polling results can be displayed immediately as a graph. By answering questions and seeing the results right away, students will know how they are doing and where they are with their peers. Using the clickers also allows shy students to participate when normally they will not raise their hands.
Preparing to Use Clickers in Your Class
We have a space in Blackboard for sharing and communicating clicker files and materials for instructors. If you are an instructor and would like to have access to this, please contact us so we can add you to the Clicker space in Blackboard. Please fill out the following DMP contact form.
Considering Clickers for Your Course
Before you further your quest in using clickers, ponder the following questions, as if you are considering incorporating any other technology:
- What is the learning objective of your course or particular week/chapter/topic in your course?
- What ways or methods can you use to achieve that learning objective? Will technology help? If yes, what and how?
- Will clicker help your students learn better?
- And finally, will you be able to set aside additional time to be familiar with the technology?
Answering those questions will help you to avoid a common pitfall of selecting the technology first, just for the sake of the technology, and then try to fit it into your course.
Below are questions and answers to help you in your process of considering the use of clickers in your course:
Why should I use clickers in my course? Will clickers help my students learn the course material? Is using clickers the only or best way for students’ learning process?
There are many classes you taught before without clickers and you did just fine. Why would you now have to consider using clickers? If any of the condition below is true in your class, then you may want to consider using clickers for your course:
- Students are falling asleep during your lecture
- You see students staring at you with blank eyes
- You have larger class size which makes it harder for you to engage students
- You know that students are listening and want to contribute, but are shy to participate
How will this affect my workload as in instructor?
There are two folds of work:
- Learning curve – As with adopting any technology in your course for the first time, you may spend considerable amount of time in learning and familiarizing with the technology. Proper training and asking questions to the DMP will help you ease the process, but ultimately, the majority of the effort will be from the instructor her/himself. Therefore, you need to acknowledge the amount of work you need to invest at this stage.
- Class preparation – In order to use clickers effectively, you need to prepare the questions to be asked in class. The questions you prepare will correspond to the purpose of why you use clickers, such as to take attendance, to find out whether students understand a particular concept you have just explained, to do a small quiz, etc.
How do I incorporate clickers in my class? How do other instructors use clickers in their courses?
There is no one size fits all method, however, there are various methods in using clickers to fit different pedagogic purposes:
Teach in the pace of students’ learning progress: Clickers enable instructor to find out whether students understand a particular concept at a certain moment during lecture. Instructor can ask students a multiple-choice question, and have students respond. The answers can be obtained immediately and be used as a guide for the instructor whether to move forward with the lecture, or to spend more time on the topic.
- Promote student’s active and reflective learning: In a humanity course, an instructor found clickers to be handy in acquiring students’ opinion, especially those related to sensitive, personal information. It is working well when the clickers are used in anonymous mode. This activity engages students to participate actively and to reflect upon their opinions in comparison to others.
- Improve student engagement by being active and collaborative: Clickers can be used for peer training, a method that allows students to discuss and collaborate in resolving problems, answering questions, or explaining to each other. This method promotes active and collaborative learning. Instructor initially asks a question, and when many students do not get it correctly, the instructor will ask students to discuss in small groups about the problem. Afterwards, they will be asked the same question again, and this time most students will answer correctly.
- Taking attendance: An instructor had used clickers to take class attendance. She found it very effective; It increases students’ motivation to attend, and reduces her paperwork and class administration time.
Known Issues with Using Clickers
- Cheating - When using clickers for marking or attendance, there is a possibility of students trying to beat the system. Student may not be present physically, but have the clicker brought and responded by another student, and so it appears that the student is present.
- Lecture Pace - In most cases, the instructor’s teaching pace slows down to allow lecture repetition of difficult concepts.
- Clicker Battery Life - The clicker needs 2 AA batteries, and with normal usage, it can last up to 360 hours. Therefore, if the clicker does not start up (shown by the LCD display), it may be needing new sets of batteries.