Clickers 201 - Effective questions in any discipline - March 2012


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Slides from the workshop given by Jeff Loats and Christy Cummings on March 30th, 2012. Please contact either one of us to get a copy of the handout (which includes a thorough list of scholarly references).

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Clickers 201 - Effective questions in any discipline - March 2012

  1. 1. Clickers 201: Creating Effective Questions In Any Discipline Dr. Jeff Loats Physics Department MSCD Christy Cummings Behavioral Sciences CCD“The one who does the work does the learning” – Terry Doyle
  2. 2. Are you currently using clickers(a classroom response system) inyour courses?A) I have never used them.B) I have used them before, but don’t currently.C) I use them currently in at least one class.
  3. 3. In (roughly) what area do you teach?A) HumanitiesB) Natural sciences & mathematicsC) Professions & applied sciencesD) Social sciencesE) Teacher education
  4. 4. Evidence For Effectiveness• Quick/easy attendance in large class sizes.• Provides anonymity (Banks, 2006).• Every student participates (Banks, 2006).• Encourages active learning (Martyn, 2007).• Improved concentration (Hinde & Hunt, 2006)• Improved learning and retention (Moreau, 2010).• Improved exam scores (Poirier & Feldman, 2007)• Efficient use of class time (Anderson, et al. 2011).• Engages students in metacognition.
  5. 5. The Physics Education Revolution• About ~20 years ago, physics teachers began treating education as a research topic!• Their findings: Grim! From Mazur, New Faculty Workshop presentation, 2004• Eric Mazur (Harvard) found:"But the students dofine on my exams!"
  6. 6. 6 How Do Others Do?Conclusion: Traditional physics lectures are all similarly (in)effective in improving conceptual understanding.
  7. 7. Did It Work for Mazur?Mazur after 1 year of using Peer Instruction• This is a big jump in conceptual understanding.• Is this just about new energy being put into an old class? (This is a difficult confounding factor in assessing new teaching techniques.)
  8. 8. Does It Work For Others?• This method was then used in classes all over the country with impressive results all around.• A conceptually focused class with responsibility placed on students creates improved conceptual gains.• The evidence indicates that problem solving skills are improved when time is devoted to concepts.
  9. 9. Bloom’s TaxonomyA Hierarchy of Thinking Skills (1956)6) Evaluation5) Synthesis4) Analysis3) Application2) Comprehension1) Knowledge
  10. 10. Types of clicker questions: Factual Recall• Can occasionally serve as a reading quiz or as a lecture diagnostic.• Students rate these questions as much less valuable compared to harder, deeper questions.• If these are “high-stakes,” technical difficulties become even more problematic.
  11. 11. Example Question: Factual RecallWhat is the correct expression for the areaof a circle?A) e ∙ rB) e ∙ r2C) π ∙ dD) π ∙ r2E) π ∙ r
  12. 12. Types of clicker questions:Vote-Share-Vote, a.k.a. Peer Instruction• Challenging conceptual questions (40-60% correct on 1st try).• Students vote individually (after time to think).• “Turn to your neighbor and convince them.”• Students vote again, post discussion• Class-wide discussion and elaboration
  13. 13. Example Question: Vote-Share-Vote, a.k.a. Peer InstructionTwo identical blocks are connected by a lightweightcord that runs through a light pulley. They are held inthe positions shown. When released, the blocks willend up A) at their current heights. B) at equal heights. C) with block 1 on the ground. 1 2 D) with block 2 on the ground.
  14. 14. Types of clicker questions: Polling/Survey• Polls or surveys provide a way for students to express their opinion on topics, when they otherwise might remain quiet.• Polls or surveys can be used as a comparison with statistics in the text.• Students enjoy voting on controversial topics. The classroom can quickly become more animated after viewing the results.
  15. 15. Example Question: Polling/SurveyIs there a colleague in your department thatyou think should not have received tenure,or should not have their contract renewed?A) YesB) No
  16. 16. Example Question: Polling/SurveyDo you feel you were treated fairly at alllevels of review when you had your mostrecent professional review (renewal, tenure,promotion, etc.)?A) YesB) No First vote: Women only Second vote: Men only
  17. 17. Types of clicker questions: Poll-Teach-Poll• Polling first (without showing the results), then teaching, then polling again allows tracking of changes in student attitudes or opinions.• Can enhance critical thinking (analyzing, evaluating).• Increases metacognition (partner/peer share).• Provides quick checks on knowledge and understanding of material.
  18. 18. Example Question: Poll-Teach-PollWhich best describes your feelings about femalecircumcision/FGM?A) I am writing letters to the WHO to protest.B) “To each their own.” We shouldn’t interfere with another culture.C) What is the big deal? Males around the world are circumcised.D) I don’t know anything about FGM.
  19. 19. Types of clicker questions: Thought Questions1. Start by choosing a learning goal to assess.2. Develop an open-ended application/prediction question for the goal.3. Present the question, organize groups of 3-4 students and allow 5-7 minutes for discussion.4. One group presents their answer and rationale.5. Class votes on rationale: Agree/Disagree/Don’t know.6. If the majority of the class disagrees, another group gets to offer their answer and rationale.7. Repeat 5 & 6 until the majority agrees.
  20. 20. Example Question: Thought QuestionsEndocrinology:What would you predict would happen to the ovulatoryfrequency if one ovary were removed?Immunology:Given that all blood cell types derive from the pluripotenthemopoietic stem cell, why are there so manydifferent types of cells in the immune system? (discussions like this can be used to generate choices for more standard clicker questions)
  21. 21. Types of clicker questions: Thought QuestionsCreated by T. Foley & Pei-San Tsaiin the CU Integrative Physiology DepartmentGoogle “thought questions CU-SEI”or use
  22. 22. Types of clicker questions:Teach-Test-Review or Teach-Test-Retest• Questions focus on measurable skills that are the learning outcomes of the lesson.• Use as a diagnostic for the instructor and as formative assessment for the student.• Repeated testing does show benefits compared to repeated studying. (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006).
  23. 23. Creating Questions: Write• Choose a topic from a course you teach regularly, then choose a question type and a Bloom’s dimension.• Write a question to fit those criteria. Use the Bloom’s verbs. (Write another if you have time.)• In ~5 minutes we will ask you to share with your neighbor…
  24. 24. Creating Questions: Share• Form a pair or group.• Without preamble, ask your colleague(s) to answer your question. Then discuss it: – Which type of question do they think it is. – What Bloom’s dimension do they think it is?• Choose one question to share with the whole room. (Good/bad/interesting/tough.)
  25. 25. Clickers: Best Practices and Pitfalls• Sell it: Be explicit with students about why you are using clickers.• Be consistent: Have clicker questions in nearly all classes.• Engage students: Let students explain often, focus on wrong answers.• Demonstrate value: Exams/papers should reflect ideas from clicker questions.• Give credit: Clickers should be 2%-15% of grade. Grade on participation… mostly.
  26. 26. Thanks!• References are listed on the handout.• Contact: Jeff Loats, Christy Cummings, A copy of this presentation is online at