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Engaging students with clickers with "best practices"

Engaging students with clickers with "best practices"



Classroom response systems ("clickers") offer a powerful way to increase student engagement by going beyond simple quizzes. They provide an opportunity to gather real-time feedback on student ...

Classroom response systems ("clickers") offer a powerful way to increase student engagement by going beyond simple quizzes. They provide an opportunity to gather real-time feedback on student understanding. If you are new to clickers or need fresh ideas for using clickers in the classroom, please join us as we explore best clicker practices and provide tips and suggestions for using clickers in your class and for writing great questions.



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  • How do you feel about asking students questions in class? How many times have you given a lecture and found that students hadn’t followed you? Can you rely on students to ask questions if they don’t understand something? Can you rely on students to know if they don’t understand something? So, what are the benefits of questioning? Why do you think people don’t question more?
  • We know that interactive engagement works. But how can we achieve it? One method is through question-driven teaching. This is an entirely new way of teaching, consisting of asking students a question, they discuss it, you discuss it as a class, and then repeat the cycle a few times per class. Clickers are just a tool to achieve these ends. They aren’t a magic bullet. They are a way to achieve a certain pedagogical and learning goal. They can be used poorly and not achieve these goals!
  • What comes first? Learning goals.
  • We aren’t just trying to sell you on peer instruction because it seems like a good idea. There is lots of research on this. We’ll show a little later, but realize that lots of evidence points towards this being a more effective mode of instruction than lecture only.
  • What comes first? Learning goals.
  • What comes first? Learning goals.
  • During each section, ask people for examples of questions that they wrote that fall into this category. Give clicker booklet for responding. Point out the handout where each one is detailed more.
  • Shop for ideas
  • Shop for ideas
  • Shop for ideas
  • What comes first? Learning goals.
  • Instructor circulates, may need to show that you’re serious
  • Again, role-play being an instructor. Show histogram and it’s mostly A. Ask “Someone who answered A, could you tell me why you answered A?” (tell them to give a good answer) When they give a good answer, say, yes, makes sense, any questions? “ Someone who answered A, could you tell me why you answered A?” - Give positive feedback for answer “ Someone else? Even if you didn’t answer A, why might someone have answered A?” - Give positive feedback for answer “ What about B?” Show histogram and it’s 80/20. Show histogram and it’s 50/50. “ There’s some disagreement! Can someone give me an argument for A?...” Now elicit from the workshop participants -- what were the variables? Make sure to cover: - When do you show the histogram? People won’t want to share the answer if most of the class didn’t vote for that. If it’s a split vote, show the histogram up front. - How do you ask for student responses? “Someone who answered A, tell me why.” “Why might someone have answered A”. - Do you ask for multiple students to give their reasoning for a single answer, or do you take the first one? We suggest asking for multiple students. - Do you go through each answer choice and discuss it, or just the majority answers? We suggest each one. Students may get the right answer and not know why, or may not know why the wrong answer is wrong. Overall, the important message is that student reasoning is important, and the process of getting to the right answer is just as important as the answer itself. Note that you may consider showing class video in lieu of roleplay.
  • Weigh advantages of covering more material against checking comprehension and actively involving students. It’s challenging. How a teacher does this determines how well it works. NO RESPONSE: Wait longer. Rephrase the question. Give a hint. Have students discuss. Call on someone. Leave unanswered. SAME PEOPLE: Someone other than X. Ask an easier question and call on new volunteer. Be alert to non-verbal cues. Make it clear that participation required. IF ANSWERS CALLED OUT: Ask it others agree. Ask for other answers. Ask students to think for a minute. Turn away to signal time for thought. Ask to write answers down. IF TAKE TOO LONG: Interrupt and summarize. Set boundaries and expectations. WRONG ANSWER: Break down question so others can see error. Ask for comments. Ask for other answers. Find merit in answer and explain why common mistake.

Engaging students with clickers with "best practices" Engaging students with clickers with "best practices" Presentation Transcript

  • The Gentle Art of Questioning Best Practices in Clicker Use 1 Dr. Stephanie V. Chasteen  Science Education Initiative Univ. of Colorado at Boulder http://colorado.edu/sei & Dustin Jensen i>clickerEmail: stephanie.chasteen@colorado.edu
  • Have you used response systems (clickers) in your teaching? Take a clicker & turn it on If the green light flashes, your vote has been countedA. Not at all, and I haven’t seen them used Not at all, but I’ve observed their use somewhat I’ve used them a little I’ve used them some I could be (should be?) giving this workshop2
  • Why question?Credit: Rosie Piller whiteboard 3
  • Clickers are a tool for questioning But not a magic bullet!R em em b er : Don’t confuse the pedagogy with the technology! The perfect question doesn’t solve all problems! 4
  • Collect Demographic Data5
  • Why Clickers? y t me… ’t fi tyl ore esnng s st m ? Do chi u t’s j ology t ea h, i chn O te ent t ud … o se s tion e I’ll l terac p e ns … in r exdents the stu uch Anomy m fo r oo l to ve teria I hamat er… cov6
  • Are students paying attention to your lecture? What is the typical attention span of a student while listening to a lecture? A B C D 15 30 45 60 minutes minutes minutes minutes7
  • Are you surprised?Various studies show that after 10-20 minutes,students’ minds begin to wander and retention ofinformation falls off dramatically.Taking notes and asking questionsoccupies only 49% of the students’time during lecture;the remainder is spent thinkingabout people, time, body, andfantasy.8
  • The need for clickers… Reset the students clocks Receive immediate feedback Promotes participation and active learning9
  • Benefits of Clickers  Get students participating  Peer instruction  Identify student knowledge  Clicker points  2 way communication tool10
  • Use clickers to emphasize important points Students may not pay attention to what you feel is important; they pay attention to what they think is important. VS.11
  • Should I give students clicker points? Don’t make your class a stressful environment!The learning process is enhanced when studentsare not overly anxious to participate, so low-stakesgrading is advised. Example: .7 for participating .3 for correct answer12
  • Know if your students are getting it! If they aren’t, then the instructor can present the information in an alternative way. Don’t wait until you see poor grades on the exam. University of New Mexico13
  • Why use clickers to ask questions? Similar goals to non-clicker questions Anonymous (to peers) Every student has a voice – the loud ones and the shy ones Forced wait time What does this tool help You can withhold the answer us to do? until everyone has had time to think (choose when to show the histogram)14
  • Best Practices15
  • What do students like least about clickers?A. High stake questionsB. Only used on occasionC. Used for attendance onlyD. Seeing the same question types over and overE. All of the above A. Used for attendance only16
  • If you must take attendance…Take attendance without your students knowing...17
  • What do students like most about using clickers?A. Provides anonymityB. Promotes participation and active learningC. A way to earn extra pointsD. Everyone has a voice (at least a clicker voice)E. All of the above B. Promotes participation and active learning18
  • University of New Mexico Research shows thatfewer than half of 18-25 year olds learn effectively by passively listening to a lecture.  19
  • How do students learn?Most people learn by - actively engaging critical concepts, applying those concepts, and confronting their misconceptions about the subjectmatter. These actions are effectively done in lecture settings by breaking up lecture time with “clicker questions.”20
  • Peer Instruction21
  • Why use clickers to target the class? An outline of Peer Instruction.22
  • A quick outline of peer instruction23
  • Anatomy of Peer Instruction Ask Question …Lecture… (Maybe vote) Class Discussion Peer Discussion Vote24 * See also: Peer Instruction, A User’s Manual.  E. Mazur.  
  • Peer Instruction Given that a large treegrows from a tiny seed,where does most of the mass of the solidtissues in the tree come from?A. Water B. Dirt and Soil C. Air D. It’s already in the seed25
  • Peer Instruction Helps Students Learn Research shows that:  Students like peer instruction  Students can better answer a similar question after talking to their peers  Peer discussion + instructor explanation works better than either one alone  Peer instruction outperforms traditional lectures on a common test See http://STEMclickers.colorado.edu for various references26
  • Burning questions? Ask Question …Lecture… (Maybe vote) Class Discussion Peer Discussion Vote28 * See also: Peer Instruction, A User’s Manual.  E. Mazur.  
  • I think the toughest thing about using clickers and peer instruction in class is / will be:• Writing good questions• Getting students to really think about the questions• The same students always respond in whole class discussion• It takes too long / I have a lot of content to cover• Something else
  • Focusing in on question-writing Ask Question …Lecture… (Maybe vote) Class Discussion Peer Discussion Vote30 * See also: Peer Instruction, A User’s Manual.  E. Mazur.  
  • Some possible question goals BEFORESetting up instruction DURING DevelopingE.g.: knowledgeMotivate ApplicationAssess prior knowledge Elicit misconception… (handout!) … AFTER Relate to big picture Assessing Demonstrate success learning … Credit: Rosie Piller and Ian Beatty.
  • Example question: Physics 20 What is the goal of this question? Which superpower would you  When might you use it?rather have? The ability to…D.Change the mass of thingsE.Change the charge of thingsF.Change the magnetization of thingsG.Change the boiling point of things Question: Ian Beatty, UNC Greensboro Image: Thibault fr on32 Wikimedia
  • Example question: LiteratureIf Homer wrote the Iliad today, Stanley Fish and Harold Bloom would argue, respectively, whether the work should be categorized as:C.Existential vs. Romantic What is the goal of this question?  D.Postmodern vs Classical When might you use it?E.Modern vs RomanticF.Postcolonial vs ModernG.Preliterate vs Postliterate The Technology Enhanced Learning and Research center at Ohio StateOrigin unknown33
  • Example question: EthicsIf you were a judge, how would you assess the “responsibility” of the U.S. Government, for what happened in the world between 1933 and 1945?C.Not responsibleD.Minimally responsibleE.ResponsibleF.Very responsible What is the goal of this question?  What  is the level of this question? Origin unknown34
  • Use questions at a variety of cognitive depth Do the questions you use intellectually challenge your students or simply assess their factual knowledge? Higher order ---------------- Lower order handout35
  • Example question: EnglishThe child apprized her fathers authority and behaved herself in church. Apprized meansC.AppreciatedD.CompromisedE.DefiedF. Noted36
  • Example question: MathYour sister in law calls to say that she’s having twins. Which of the following is the most likely? (Assume she’s having fraternal, not identical, twins)C. Twin boysD. Twin girlsE. One girl and one boyF. All are equally likelyDerek Bruff, Vanderbilt37
  • Question-writing tips Use questions with a variety of pedagogical goals Use questions at a mixture of cognitive depth Move away from simple quizzes: use questions that prompt discussion Use questions that emphasize reasoning or process Ask challenging questions – don’t just test memorized facts Focus on key learning goals – what do you want them to know? Use clear wording Use tempting distracters See handout38
  • Effective multiple-choice questions have believable “distracters.” 391. Talking with other instructors that have taught the course in the past.2. Talking with your students one-on- one before class, after class, during office hours.3. Using student responses to open- ended questions that you include in HW and exams.4. Asking your students to come up with answers that will be used as the choices.5. Use researched and documented student misconceptions. 39 D. Duncan, Univ. of Colorado
  • An example question What causes the seasons? A. The change in the earth’s distance from the sun during the year Bad question. B. The tilt of the earths axis Students can C. Changes in the sun’s brightness answer by memorizing a D. Changes in clouds word (“tilt”) E. None of the above Can we make a better question on the SAME topic? Yes…40
  • Better seasons example What would happen to the seasons if the earth’s orbit around the sun was made a perfect circle (but nothing else changed) ?A. There would be no seasonsB. The seasons would remain pretty much as they are todayC. Winter to spring would differ much less than nowD. Winter to spring would differ much more than now Much better question. Requires reasoning!41
  • Exercise: Try writing a question r Individually, choose one of the question goals 5 min (see handout) o Write a draft question that aims to achieve this goal. See the detailed “Bloom’s Taxonomy” handout for helpful verbs. Then…1. Use the Bloom’s Taxonomy worksheet to rate the Bloom’s level of your question2. Swap your question with a neighbor. Do you agree on the Bloom’s level of your question? Can you suggest improvements? 42
  • What was the Bloom’s level of your question?A. RememberingB. UnderstandingC. ApplyingD. AnalyzingE. Evaluating43
  • Share out What did you learn in this process? What worked well, what was challenging? How might you go about writing questions in your class?44
  • Gallery Walk Look at the “example questions” sets on the wall. What do these three questions have in common? Jot any ideas down on the sheet. Might you use this type of question? When? For what purpose? 10 minutes Aihofanz2010 on Wikimedia45
  • Some question strategies to consider Use a series of questions Rather than a set of one-offs. Use real-life scenarios and current events for surveys To keep lessons fresh and relevant Ask predictive questions So students have a chance to weigh in first. More important for understanding than recall questions, but used less often Use images in question choices To give students a chance to connect words and visual/graphic Pose summarizing questions To get students thinking about effects. Pose a series of outcomes and vote on consequences Sidney-Eve Matrix on the ActiveClass
  • But… The perfect question doesn’t solve all problems!47
  • Some “best practices” and solutions We’ll do these quickly These are repeated in handouts Underlying philosophy to most of these “best practices” are:“It is important for students to discuss their ideas, to  feel safe doing so, and for the teacher to be aware of  those ideas”48
  • 1. Ask QuestionWhat are some challenges/ things to consider when posing a clicker question? •Ask several times during lecture •Ask challenging, meaningful questions •Give time to read (read silently to self) 3949 Handout/worksheet / whiteboard
  • 2. Peer Discussion • Students learn more deeply by teaching each other • Makes them articulate answer • Lets you see inside their headsWhy is peer discussion important? What are challenges /  how can you help make it work? •Make it clear why you’re doing this • Circulate and ask questions / model •Use questions they want to discuss •Allow enough time (2-5 mins) •Focus on reasoning in wrap-up 50
  • 3. Wrap-Up Discussion Challenges? What might you do to  facilitate an effective  wrap­up discussion?•Establish culture of respect•Consider whether to show the histogram immediately• Ask multiple students to defend their answers• Why are wrong answers wrong and why right answer is right51
  • Student buy-in is key!52
  • Giving the answer stops student thinking! 53
  • Action Plan Take a few minutes to write down your action plan to implement ideas you heard about in the workshop54
  • Thank you! Clicker resource page http://STEMclickers.colorado.edu • Instructor’s Guide • Question banks • Workshops • Literature / Articles •Videos Email me at stephanie.chasteen@colorado.edu Handouts  will be at http://blog.sciencegeekgirl.com Many materials in this workshop (particularly the questioning cycle and the participant exercises) were adapted from Rosie  Piller,  Making Students Think: The Art of Questioning. Short papers published in: Computer Training & Support Conference, 1995; ISPI International Conferences, 1991 and 1996; ASTD National Conference on Technical & Skills Training, 1990. Related workshop description at http://www.educationexperts.net/nstworkshop.html Other materials (particularly sample clicker questions and goals of clicker questions) adapted from Ian Beatty’s Technology Enhanced Formative Assessment (TEFA) program. http://ianbeatty.com/crs 55
  • Learning Goals Biology:  Recognize the components of a cell and describe why each is necessary for the function of a cell Physics: Identify the different ways that light can interact with an object (i.e., transmitted, absorbed, reflected). Chemistry:  Explain trends in boiling points in terms of intermolecular interactions Earth science:  Understand the formation of the three major types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and the processes by which they form, relating them by the rock cycle. Math:  Solve a system of linear equations in two variables using algebra or graphing.56
  • What Do I do if…?What can you do if you ask questions and.. There is no response The same people keep raising their hands The answers are called out before everyone has a chance to think We’ll discuss in  The answers take too long Workshop #2. Someone gives a wrong answer For now: Many of these challenges are Only some students are prepared addressed by clickers?57
  • Other question types and methodologies • Use a combination of simple and more complex  questions. • The best questions focus on concepts that  involve challenging ideas that generate  discussion. - Dr. Douglas Duncan University of Colorado58
  • Discover misconceptions Dr. Stephen Ball - University of Missouri - Columbia59
  • Women OnlyWhich body type to you think men are most attracted to? A B C D E F60
  • Men OnlyWhich body type are you most attracted to? A B C D E F61
  • Men OnlyWhich body type to you think women are most attracted to? A B C D E F62
  • Women OnlyWhich body type are you most attracted to? A B C D E F63
  • Debates and Discussion In today’s world a ‘culture of death’ is  gaining supremacy over a ‘culture of life.’ W ty SA of Du lCal to w a ys 1000 die io n b ort A Utilize your demographic data64
  • Use clickers to build critical thinking skillsGamze Yasar - Economics Colorado State University- 4 questions per lecture - 2 questions are critical thinking questions - not graded - 2 questions based on lecture - graded Keep students involved all semester long - not just the first two weeks.65
  • Should I give participation points only?Dana Narter - Psychology - University of Arizona - Students may not make an effort to answer correctly if they are awarded points for participation only.66
  • I want the truth, and nothing but the truth!! Law - Criminal Justice - Med - Nursing - Sociology Ask moral, legal, or ethical questions Use anonymous polling67