Making clickers work in your class


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From FTEP, March 15th. Stephanie Chasteen, Science Teaching Fellow, Physics
Steven Pollock, President’s Teaching Scholar and Professor of Physics

Questioning is a central part of student assessment and quizzing, but it can also be a powerful learning tool. How does a teacher use questioning effectively? What is the right number of questions to ask? How do we avoid just giving students the answer? How do we avoid embarrassing our students, or confusing the class, if they give me the wrong answer? In this interactive workshop, we’ll explore research-based tips and ideas for questioning in a way that allow us to achieve the full benefit of questioning –student engagement and deep learning. We will focus on the use of “peer instruction” – the practice of requiring students to discuss their answers to challenging questions with one another. Peer instruction is facilitated by the use of “clickers”, but many benefits of the technique can be achieved even without the technology. We’ll discuss common challenges, share tips on getting students to productively argue and reason through the questions, and ways to encourage all students to speak up in response to 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 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.
  • Is this a problem? Unreasonable to expect adoption of any method wholesale without modification.Some modifications might increase effectiveness. But some components essential to student learning might be eliminated. Some dropped elements argued to be key to effectiveness by developers. Can’t assume faculty using PI is using as intended. Methods are related to or inspired by PI, but no longer recognizeable as PI, and so not been tested for effectiveness.
  • Questions threaten studentsI get no volunteers to answerStudents don’t talk to each otherAnswers take me off trackTakes too much time
  • 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.
  • Instructor circulates, may need to show that you’re serious
  • Undergraduate biology majors Intro genetics.16 times. Isomorphic question, different “cover story” but same idea or topic. Q1 and Q2 randomly assigned. Reviewed by two independent reviewers.
  • Usually one second. Trained to wait 3-5 seconds. Students tend to speak in bursts with 3-5 seconds between bursts: Wait time of 1 second interrupts these bursts.
  • Making clickers work in your class

    1. 1. Make Clickers Work for You FACILITATION TIPS AND TECHNIQUES Dr. Stephanie V. Chasteen Dr. Steven Pollock Physics Department & Science Education Initiative Univ. of Colorado at Boulder and blog: http://sciencegeekgirl.comEmail:
    2. 2. What do you teach? Show of handsA. ScienceB. Engineering or MathC. Social sciencesD. HumanitiesE. Other
    3. 3. 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 usedB. Not at all, but I’ve observed their use somewhatC. I’ve used them a littleD. I’ve used them a lotE. I could be (should be?) giving this workshop
    4. 4. How familiar are you with “Peer Instruction” Colored cardsA. Fairly familiar, and I like itB. Fairly familiar, but I’m not sure that I like itC. I’ve heard of it but only have a vague idea what it isD. Not familiar at allE. Not sure
    5. 5. Quick pollA. I need the workshop to end on timeB. I prefer the workshop to end on timeC. I don’t mind staying ~10 mins late if we run over
    6. 6. Introducing Us 6Science Education Initiative Applying scientific principles to improve science education – What are students learning, and which instructional approaches improve learning?Physics Education Research Group One of largest PER groups in nation, studying technology, attitudes, classroom practice, & institutional change. Blogger
    7. 7. Why question? 7  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?  What are the benefits of questioning?Credit: Rosie Piller whiteboard
    8. 8. What is special about clicker questions? 9 Similar goals as other types of questioning techniques Multiple choice Anonymous (to peers) Every student has a voice – the loud ones and the shy ones What does this tool help Forced wait time us to do? You can withhold the answer until everyone has had time to think (choose when to show the histogram)
    9. 9. Clickers are a tool for questioning 10 But not a magic bullet!Don’t equate the pedagogy with the technology. So what IS the pedagogy?
    10. 10. Why use peer instruction? 11
    11. 11. An outline of Peer Instruction. 12
    12. 12. Anatomy of Peer Instruction 13 Ask Question…Lecture… (Maybe vote)Class Discussion Peer Discussion Vote * See also: Peer Instruction, A User’s Manual. E. Mazur.
    13. 13. Burning questions? 14 Ask Question…Lecture… (Maybe vote)Class Discussion Peer Discussion Vote * See also: Peer Instruction, A User’s Manual. E. Mazur.
    14. 14. Peer instruction helps students learn 16Research shows that: Students can better answer a similar question after talking to their peers Peer discussion + instructor explanation works better than either one alone Students like peer instruction Peer instruction outperforms traditional lectures on a common test See for various references
    15. 15. U. Colorado clicker resources… 17Videos of effective use of clickers 2-5 mins long http://STEMvideos.colorado.eduClicker resource page • Instructor’s Guide • Question banks • Workshops • Literature / Articles
    16. 16. Example question: Physics 18Which superpower would yourather have? The ability to… A. Change the mass of things B. Change the charge of things C. Change the magnetization of things D. Change the boiling point of things 18 Question: Ian Beatty, UNC Greensboro Image: Thibaultfr on Wikimedia
    17. 17. Example question: LiteratureIf Homer wrote the Iliad today, Stanley Fish and Harold Bloom would argue, respectively, whether the work should be categorized as:A. Existential vs. RomanticB. Postmodern vs ClassicalC. Modern vs RomanticD. Postcolonial vs ModernE. Preliterate vsPostliterate The Technology Enhanced Learning and Research center at Ohio StateOrigin unknown
    18. 18. 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)A. Twin boysB. Twin girlsC. One girl and one boyD. All are equally likely 20Derek Bruff, Vanderbilt
    19. 19. Example question: History or 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?A. Not responsibleB. Minimally responsibleC. ResponsibleD. Very responsible Origin unknown 21
    20. 20. Let’s try it I think the toughest thing about using clickers and peer instruction in class is / will be:A. Writing good questionsB. Getting students to really think about the questionsC. Getting students to share their reasoning with the whole classD. The same students always respond in whole class discussionE. It takes too long / I have a lot of content to cover
    21. 21. Honestly, I think that I’m most likely to modify this technique of peer instruction to suit me and my students. I know that there are at least ___ parts of the technique that I’ll be changing:A. NoneB. OneC. Two-threeD. Four or more
    22. 22. Is there a problem with modifications?I won’t tell you how to teach. You’re smart & you care about instruction.Be strategic about modifications. Know the research.
    23. 23. Some research on modifications  63.5% of faculty (in physics) say they are familiar with Mazur’s Peer Instruction  30% report that they use Peer Instruction  50% of those use Peer Instruction in the way described by developers  Often dropped are:  Student discussion Is this a problem? Use of conceptual questions  Probably.  Whole-class votingDancy& Henderson, Pedagogical practices and instructional change of faculty, Am. J. Phys., 78(10), Oct2010.Web survey of 722 physics faculty at various institutions, initial sample of 2000.
    24. 24. Exercise #1: Core Philosophies 26 What are the underlying principles that make this work? Ask Question…Lecture… (Maybe vote)Class Discussion Peer Discussion Vote * See also: Peer Instruction, A User’s Manual. E. Mazur.
    25. 25. Some core philosophies of mineClicker questions are an integral part of my lecture Students learn by … teaching each other … articulating their ideas It’s important for me to …. hear student ideas … know what my students understand I value and respect student ideasI want students to … know that I value student ideas … feel safe sharing their ideas
    26. 26. Exercise #2 Challenges in the Classroom 28 You ask students a question, and ask them to discuss. You then ask them to share their answers and reasoning in a whole-class discussion What could possibly go wrong?  5 mins In groups of 3-5 brainstorm some of the challenges you imagine in using this. Brainstorm some solutions that are in line with your core philosophies Write on your handout and then scribe on board
    27. 27. 1. Ask Question 29What are some challenges/ philosophies /solutions related to asking the question?Philosophies•Questions are integral to lecture•Students can learn by considering aquestion Best practices •Ask several times during lecture •Ask challenging, meaningful questions •Don’t post until ready & give time to read 29 Handout/worksheet / whiteboard
    28. 28. When can we ask questions? 30 BEFORESetting up instruction DURING E.g.: Developing knowledge Motivate Assess prior knowledge Application … (handout!) Elicit misconception … AFTER Relate to big picture Assessing Demonstrate success learning … Credit: Rosie Piller and Ian Beatty.
    29. 29. 2. Peer Discussion 31 Philosophies: •Students learn through discussion • Students need to know that you value their ideas & that it’s safe to shareWhat are core philosophies in peer discussion? What are challenges / how can you help make it work? Solutions: •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
    30. 30. Talking brings convergence 32 Eric Mazur - Harvard U.Before discussion After discussion Why do you think this happens? A B C A B (A) Students are getting answers from the ‘smart’ kids C (B) They’re learning from their discussions (C) They just needed more time to think about it Mazur, 1997
    31. 31. The hypothesis: If students learn from peer discussion, they should show better performance on a similar question. Ask a second, similar question without any instructor input: Q2 Undergrad introductory genetics course. 16 Q1/Q2 pairs.Research by MichelleSmith, Bill Wood, WendyAdams, Carl Wieman,Jenny Knight, NancyGuild, Tin Tin Su, MCDB. Smith et al., Science. 2009, 323(5910):122.
    32. 32. Are they learning from peers? 100 100 1) Students answer 90 8080 Q1 individually. 70 6060 Percent Q Percent 50 Q Q 4040 Students talk to 2) 30 neighbors and 2020 answer Q1 again 10 (Q1AD = Q1“After 00 Q1 Q1 Q1AD Q1a Q2 Q2 Discussion”). Individual After Individual Discussion 3) Students answer Q2 individually . Q2 tests same concept as Q1. n= 350 studentsThen explain answers to Q1 and Q2 Smith et al., Science. 2009, 323(5910):122.
    33. 33. Can students answer difficult questions correctly after discussion? 100100 Q1 90 90 Very few students Q1after discussion 80 80 knew correct Q2 answer to Q1, but 70 70 Percent correct 60 60 after discussion, Percent 50 50 many more 40 40 answer correctly: 30 30 students are 20 20 constructing their 10 10 own knowledge 0 0 Easy Easy Medium Medium Hard Difficult (5 questions) (7 questions) (4 questions)Smith et al., Science. 2009, 323(5910):122.
    34. 34. Student buy-in is key!
    35. 35. 3. Wrap-Up Discussion 37 Philosophies? Challenges? What might you do to facilitate an effective wrap-up discussion? Philosophies: •Student ideas are important •Students need to feel safeSolutions:•Establish culture of respect•Consider whether to show the histogram immediately• Ask multiple students to defend their answers• Emphasize reasoning: Why are wrong answers wrongand why right answer is right
    36. 36. Giving the answer stops student thinking! 38
    37. 37. Effects of increased wait time 39 Changes in student behavior:  More students respond  More students respond without being asked (unsolicited)  Student responses are longer  More alternative explanations are offered All from a few  Student confidence increases more seconds!  There are more speculative responses  Students ask more questions Other changes (on teacher!)  Quantity of questions decreased  Quality of questions increased  Expectations of slower students were revised  Teacher reactions to answers were more appropriate Rowe, Mary Budd (1974)
    38. 38. Other things we haven’t talked about? 40 Other challenges / solutions / philosophies?
    39. 39. Action Plan 41 Take a few minutes to write down your action plan to implement ideas you heard about in the workshop
    40. 40. U. Colorado clicker resources… 42Videos of effective use of clickers http://STEMvideos.colorado.edu2-5 mins longClicker resource page • Instructor’s Guide • Question banks PLUS past workshops And all workshop materials •Literature / Articles I can help you with your institution’s workshops too
    41. 41. Thanks! Resource Page: Web and blog: Email: Many materials in this workshop (particularly the questioning cycle and the participant exercises) were adapted fromRosie 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 Other materials (particularly sample clicker questions and goals of clicker questions) adapted from Ian Beatty’s Technology Enhanced Formative Assessment (TEFA) program.