Clicker Best Practices
An excerpt from Clickers in the Classroom
Duncan; University of Colorado - Boulder
Here are some points on the best strategies and uses of clickers recommended by Dr. Javed Iqbal, who has been instrumental in spreading the use of clickers at the University of British Columbia and other universities across Canada.
- The main focus of the technology should be to enhance interactive teaching and not to use it as a tool to keep the attendance or to give on-the-spot quizzes that count towards the final grade.
- Keep the grade for in-class clicker quizzes low. A suggested number is 5% of the overall grade. A higher percentage leads to anxiety among students and they will be more focused on getting the answer right rather than thinking critically.
- Avoid asking questions that require a calculation. Emphasis should be on the questions that enhance critical thinking, conceptual understanding and active learning.
- Keep the level of difficulty at an intermediate level -- not so easy that the answer is trivial (e.g. What are the units for pressure in MKS system?) or so difficult that they have no clue and they randomly select an answer.
- Use the system on a regular basis, at least once a lecture or once a week. If the students know that you will be using the system as soon as the class starts, they will be ready for it.
- Make sure that peer discussion and cooperative learning are important components of your interactive teaching. Simply having students vote on a problem without peer-to-peer discussion is not effective.
- The written part of examinations (midterms, finals etc.) should test students on their conceptual understanding of the subject matter. If the classroom focus is on the conceptual understanding and the students are examined only on their problem solving skills, then the students would see no benefit to classroom discussion or the importance of thinking through a conceptual problem.
To learn more about using classroom response systems, check out the book Clickers in the Classroom or, better yet, attend one of our workshops.