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Elon faculty shares clicker experiences, makes suggestions to foster clicker community

On Friday, May 10, Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) held a luncheon to talk to faculty 4103038164_033882a42e_o
members about using clickers in the classroom. Over the span of an hour, faculty members Dr. Kyle Altmann (physics), Dr. Daryl Lawson (physical therapy) and Paula DiBiasio (physical therapy) shared their semester’s experiences with clickers and made suggestions to help other faculty members implement clickers.

Using clickers in the classroom

Dr. Altmann has been using clickers in his classes for a while now. This semester, he used the clickers to pose questions and having the students answer with clickers before proceeding with discussion.

Dr. Lawson did very similar things with clickers as Dr. Altmann, and he said this method was helpful because it provided quick, simple responses that led to discussions.

“I found it helpful getting feedback on certain concepts,” Dr. Lawson said. “It worked for simple yes/no feedback. I am greatly interested in using them for quizzes and tests that could go right into Moodle’s gradebook [in the future].”

Dr. Lawson’s colleague in the physical therapy department, Paula DiBiasio, utilized PowerPoint with clickers. Her class complied information onto a class blog. She then created clicker questions based on blog’s content. She said this created an engaging classroom dynamic for her students.

“It was competitive and dynamic,” DiBiasio said. “It opens up opportunities for discussion in a whole different way. I like to use the clicker questions as a means of keeping us all up-to-date. We go through the quiz fast and can get right to discussion.”

The faculty also praised the preparation time for these new clickers. DiBiasio laments using an older clicker system, which required complex set up and operation processes. Dr. Lawson, for one, says the preparation left time for focus on more important aspects of using clickers.

“The physical set up was pretty easy, I thought,” Dr. Lawson said. “[What did take time was] thinking how you’re going to use [the clickers] and when you’re going to use them.”

Clickers give voice to quieter students

Student engagement was mentioned as a huge benefit from using clickers in the classroom. They found that their students were more likely to participate in the discussion, because the responses are anonymous.

DiBiasio emphasized that beyond improving the engagement among all of her students, clickers worked the best for her quieter students who may not have participated otherwise.

“It empowers that cohort of students who don’t want to raise their hand or talk,” DiBiasio said. “There are the ones that dominate [conversation], and they feel comfortable. [The other] students are very smart but they don’t want to talk. But [clickers] give them power.”

MORE: Read about other faculty experiences shared at our last clicker luncheon.

Helping faculty with clickers

As with any new technology, the faculty members found that the clickers were not free of problems. While Dr. Altmann mentioned the hassle of transporting the system to different classrooms throughout the day, the most important improvement these faculty members mentioned was the creation of a network among clicker-using faculty.

While TLT has been a great resource for them, Dr. Lawson suggested a group in which all the faculty members using clickers could discuss their experiences. A clicker-user group was mentioned as a way for clicker-using faculty to share ideas.

“We could have a clicker-user group,” Dr. Lawson said. “There could be a roster of [clicker-using faculty] to get hints from, so people on campus can help.

DiBiasio agreed, and suggested going one step further by providing opportunities for faculty attending a class in which a faculty member uses clickers to see real-time applications of the technology in the classroom.

“Each week, [we should] have a list of classes that will be using clickers,” DiBiasio suggested. “Then, we would have the ability to sit behind a class and see how they’re using clickers. There could also be a feedback sheet for the faculty member, so those teaching could benefit as well.”

Dr. Altmann has been using clickers for almost a decade, yet he feels he too could improve from watching how faculty members utilize clickers differently.

All three professors asked to build this sense of community among the clicker-users on a campus, so they can learn from each other and find new and more successful ways to incorporate clickers into their lesson plans.

MORE: Read how Dr. Joel Karty uses clickers to hold his students accountable.

 

If you are interested in using clickers in your classroom or joining the clicker-users group, contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or tlt@elon.edu.

Image by Flickr user Anna’s PhotosCC BY-SA 2.0

Casey Brown

Casey Brown

Casey Brown is the Writing Intern for Technology with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies Department.

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