Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Best practices" for clicker use in the classroom

Here are a couple of articles I ran across that some of our teacher-readers may find valuable. The first one is by a group of Canadian researchers and is called "Clicker Lessons: Assessing and Addressing Student Responses to Audience Response Systems." From the abstract:

This project began in response to a perceived need to assess students’ perceptions with respect to the emerging use of audience response systems (clickers) in several mid- to large-size undergraduate courses at the University of Victoria. We developed and validated a “Clicker Use Survey” to gather students’ opinions with respect to clicker utility and the impact of clicker use on their learning. With the collected data we generated a set of baseline distributions to support assessment of various clicker use protocols and created a self-evaluation tool to share with instructors to support teacher reflection on the efficacy of their clicker practices. We also provided a sample self-evaluation to model the use of the tool. Links to the survey instrument, baseline data and self-evaluation tool, and sample self-evaluation are provided.

The next is called "Clickers in the Large Classroom: Current Research and Best-Practice Tips" from U. West Virginia Professor of Biology Jane Caldwell. From the abstract:

Use of the audience response devices known as "clickers" is growing, particularly in large science courses at the university level, as evidence for the pedagogical value of this technology continues to accumulate, and competition between manufacturers drives technical improvements, increasing user-friendliness and decreasing prices. For those who have not yet tried teaching with clickers and may have heard unsettling stories about technical problems with earlier models, the decision to use them and the choice of an appropriate brand may be difficult. Moreover, like any classroom technology, clickers will not automatically improve teaching or enhance student learning. Clickers can be detrimental if poorly used, but highly beneficial if good practices are followed, as documented in a growing body of educational literature.

In this Special Feature, we present two reviews that should assist instructors and teachers at all levels in taking the step toward clicker use and choosing an appropriate model. In the first, Barber and Njus compare the features, advantages, and disadvantages of the six leading brands of radio-frequency clicker systems. In the second, Caldwell reviews the pedagogical literature on clickers and summarizes some of the best practices for clicker use that have emerged from educational research. In a related article elsewhere in this issue, Prezsler et al. present the results of a study showing that clicker use can improve student learning and attitudes in both introductory and more advanced university biology courses.



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