This module models the UDL Principles of Representation and Action & Expression.

Using Clickers

Student Response Systems to Increase Representation, Expression, and Engagement


 

Contributing Faculty

Dr. Subodh Dutta

Dr. Subodh Dutta
Chemistry
East Carolina University

Dr. Grant Gardner

Dr. Grant Gardner
Biology
East Carolina University

Mr. Bob Green

Mr. Bob Green
Nursing
East Carolina University

Dr. Karen Mulcahy

Dr. Karen Mulcahy
Geography
East Carolina University

Dr. Janice Neil

Dr. Janice Neil
Nursing
East Carolina University

Introduction

Faculty members in college classrooms today often find themselves teaching large sections (100 plus) of students, especially in introductory classes. For some content areas, the challenges associated with teaching large numbers of students in each class extend throughout post-secondary programs. Balancing instructional needs, such as documenting student attendance, maintaining student engagement, evaluating student understanding of class content, and grading/providing student feedback efficiently and effectively can prove extremely challenging. Clickers (classroom response systems) can provide one technology that faculty members teaching large numbers of students can use for addressing these instructional components. A clicker is a handheld wireless device that resembles a small remote control. It transmits to receivers via infrared or radio signals, sending results to the professor’s computer. Basically, clickers allow rapid collection and analysis of student responses to questions presented by the instructor. The questions used to prompt students’ responses can be strategically selected by the instructor to serve a variety of purposes. Clickers may also be helpful in smaller sections for increasing interactivity and for formative assessment.

At East Carolina University, several faculty members, teaching across a range of content areas, use clickers in the classroom and have provided ideas and suggestions based on their experiences for this module. Dr. Karen Mulcahy (Geography), Dr. Grant Gardner (Biology), and Dr. Subodh Dutta (Chemistry) teach a range of introductory courses offered to large numbers of students, and their primary reasons for using clickers are to keep the students engaged, to increase interactivity, and to maintain opportunities for formative assessment. For some, this means using clickers to take attendance via brief clicker quizzes given at the beginning of class to prime students’ background knowledge and refresh memories from previous classes. For others, it means conducting a quick formative assessment to provide a starting point for class lecture/discussion and to quickly record student attendance. Using clickers with small group activities in a large class provides another way to engage students in active learning with the content and to measure student understanding of key class concepts. Some instructors use clicker questions to poll throughout the class period to increase students’ engagement and to provide formative assessment data.

Mr. Bob Green (Nursing) and Dr. Janice Neil (Nursing), who teach junior and senior students, have highly motivated, engaged learners; yet, clickers also play an important role in their classes. Dr. Neil uses clickers to administer a brief quiz at the beginning of class on material covered during the previous class period, providing a quick way to take attendance and assess learning. For Mr. Green, clickers are used for formative and summative assessment in his classes. In addition to the quick quizzes at the beginning of class, he interjects clicker polls throughout the class, and even administers all course tests with clickers. He also administers all of his exams using clickers. Knowing that students in today’s college classrooms grew up with and are comfortable using technology, he seeks to incorporate these resources, when appropriate, to support student learning.

Read more in the Instructional Practice section of this module about the ways these faculty members use clickers in their classes and their suggestions for new adopters of this technology. Continue reading to learn about the use of clickers in smaller classes and in online classes.

Module Format

Each of the College STAR modules includes a concept map, giving readers an overview of the module content. (A concept map represents information or concepts in a graphical format .) The concept maps show the links between the instructional practice in the module, possible outcomes, and, in some cases, the principles of Universal Design for Learning, known as UDL.

Figure 1, the concept map shown below, illustrates the instructional practice in this module, which is about using clickers. The ECU faculty, who contributed to this module, use clickers to take attendance, to administer exams or quizzes, to gather formative assessment data, and to increase student engagement. Some of the advantages of these uses for clickers include increasing attendance, increasing instructional time, decreasing grading time, facilitating item analysis, providing immediate feedback on exam grades, increasing student interaction with content, increasing participation, providing anonymity for discussion of sensitive topics, increasing access to current performance data, informing instructional change, and increasing students’ awareness of their level of understanding.

Clicking on the concept map, Figure 1, will enlarge the image.

Using Clickers(Classroom Response Systems) module concept map.

Module Navigation

There are multiple ways to navigate College STAR modules. Clicking on the sidebar menu takes you directly to the main sections and subsections of the module.

Navigation features located at the top and bottom of each screen allow you to move through the module. Clicking on the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the module screen takes you directly to previously viewed parts of the module, as shown below in Figure 2 in the example from the Charting Student Information module.

Figure 2: A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page. A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page.

The navigation arrows at the bottom of each screen take you to the previous or next components of the module. The menu link at the bottom of each screen takes you to the top of the screen where you may view the menu sidebar as shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Navigation links are also located at the bottom of each page of a module.

Additionally, some links within the text lead to other sections of the module. Please use your preferred method of navigation to proceed to the next section about Universal Design for Learning (UDL).