Friday, September 12, 2014

Why am I using Clickers this semester? (Part 1)

Guest post by Dr. Jennifer Hanselman (Biology)

First year students, 8:15 am, introductory biology, 63 students, teaching in an auditorium…we all assess our audience and our classroom and then decide the best methods for communicating our content each and every lecture. Early on in the semester, we are planning and preparing our syllabi, our lectures, and our lab activities. Beyond the handouts and content, we also contemplate ways to engage our students effectively in the classroom.

This semester, my introductory biology lecture class size has doubled and is now being taught in an auditorium. Even though my lectures have ample opportunities for discussion, the percentage of students that actively participate is inversely correlated to class size, so I hope the use of Clickers will add value to the lectures each week.

I have used Clickers in the past to check for student understanding and to get the immediate feedback necessary to adapt to my student audience. In a class of 32, Clickers were an added bonus, a simple way to check attendance and encourage class participation. Now with a lecture size of 63, Clickers have an increased value. I hope the use of Clickers helps engage the students in an environment that yields greater distractions.

Integrating Clickers is fairly easy – just link up the Clickers to the receiver and run the program…however, if I want to collect individual student data, I need to link a Clicker to each student. As I wait for Add/Drop to end and my roster to finalize, I will link each individual Clicker to a student. Because the six digit serial number would be difficult for a student to identify (and I do not want them to take the Clickers with them), I placed labels on each Clicker for easy pick up when the students walk in to class.

I tell the students that the Clickers help maintain the muscle memory they need for texting…and hopefully it adds a bit more value to a class as well!

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