5What is a clicker?What we often call clickers go by many different names: personal response system, audience response system, classroom response system, electronic response system, and so on.A clicker set consists of three things: a (1) receiver to accept signals from handheld (2) devices which audience members use to answer questions displayed by (3) software that generates questions and collects audience responses. A little more concretely, an audience response system generally consists of handheld devices akin to a cheap TV remotes, which send signals by radio to a receiver that plugs into a computer. The software on the computer might be stand-alone or it might integrate into Powerpoint.
6Hardware choicesI want to mention just a few things about clicker hardware.First, some clickers still use infrared signals. This is cheaper, but these clickers require a line of sight. The receiver has to be mounted on the chalkboard or somewhere where every student can aim their clicker. Sometimes students have to stand up and aim the clickers at the receiver. I’ve heard that when going from infrared to radio, reception improves from as low as 40% to 95% or 100%.Second, the clickers we’re using in today’s presentation are by the TurningTechnologies company. We use those at Mat-Su College because they’re relatively inexpensive, the software that goes with them is versatile and can be used on its own or with seamless integration into Powerpoint, and because the company provides good support. And they use radio frequency, which is why I can have the receiver plugged into my computer without worrying about line of sight. For what it’s worth, articles on clickers in library publications seem to mention TurningTechnologies products more than competitors, so maybe other libraries like them as much as we do.One final thing to consider is that some clickers have different features. For instance, even within the TurningTechnologies line of clickers there are a range of features. The ones we’re using today are the simplest, but there are ones just a step above that have a little LCD display that tells students which answer they selected. At the top end there are clickers that allow students to type in actual short answers or to respond to polling questions at their own pace thanks to built-in displays.
7Where did clickers come from? I want to briefly talk about the history of clickers because I think it drives home a really important point, which we’ll get to later. But first here’s another clicker question.
8When were classroom response systems first used in lectures?
9“Participation Presenter-Audience Reaction System,” 1972. Image: PARTICIPATION PRESENTER-AUDIENCE REACTION SYSTEM by Demetrios Panagiotou Papadopoulos et al. Patent 3,744,712. Filed 1972.Early audience response systems – which, while wired and complex, do the same things clickers do today – appear in lecture halls in the second half of the 1960s. These devices actually have as their inspiration the response systems used by the U.S. Army in the 1950s to evaluate responses to training films.“Participation Presenter-Audience Reaction System,” 1972.
10“Arithmetic Teaching Apparatus”, 1971. ARITHMETIC TEACHING APPARATUS by Peter Devera Gomez et al. Patent 3,699,667. Filed 1971.This image shows what a classroom using an early audience response system might’ve looked like. It’s interesting because it’s very regimented, very orderly, and that fits how early audience response systems were used: mostly multiple choice quizzes and assessment. This doesn’t sound that useful, but it was one way to adjust the flow of a lecture. You could instantly see where students had trouble. By the mid-70s one use of the audience response system was to allow students to explicitly rate the pace of the lecture; could choose between grades of “too slow” and “too fast.” Can still do that today, as we’ll see.
11Early research: kind of promising. Here’s what they found in the 70s: as soon as clickers were introduced into classrooms, we get a flurry of studies. Pretty much all reached the conclusion that clickers on their own didn’t increase student performance – although one important study showed that clickers allowed inexperienced teachers to teach at the level of experienced teachers without clickers. The real gains came from increased student attendance (we’re talking 95% attendance in physics lecture courses), which led to better performance, and they were mightily enjoyed by students. Students clamored for them. Studies also suggested that students’ perceived that their learning had increased.Useful overview of all this is found in Judson, E., & Sawada, D. (2002). Learning from Past and Present: Electronic Response Systems in College Lecture Halls. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 21(2), 167–181.
1240 years on: how we’re using clickers today Surprisingly, not a lot has changed in terms of technology. We’ve got wireless, portable, inexpensive and easy to use clickers – but they’re capable of doing pretty much nothing more than was possible 40 years ago.Where we’re seeing changes is in how clickers are used. I want to talk about some of those methods.
13Agile teachingAgile teaching simply means being flexible in what you present to students. This isn’t a new method – we’ve talked about it already – but I want to say a little more, since I think this is especially useful for librarians. We’re the only instructors that I can think of that get 50 minutes, maybe once a semester if we’re lucky, to impart all of the information we have to share. It’s extremely important for us to understand what skills our students are bringing to the table and to make sure they understand what we’re teaching; they aren’t going to come to office hours or stop us after class to ask questions.With a few strategically placed questions you can figure out what they’re interested in learning about or what they already know. This can be done at outset of class; you might, for instance, ask students what kind of resources they’re most interest in learning about. Even though the teacher might say the students need to know how to find books, you could ask the students themselves and find that they would really rather learn how to find newspaper articles or something. You can also learn how much they already know about the library before you even begin a lecture. Maybe you have a lot to cover, too much to even fit in – let students pick topics you cover.Another thing is, as the class goes on, to ask them questions about material you just covered. This will let you adjust pace or return to previous material to re-cover it.What’s nice about using clickers for this instead of asking for a show of hands is that clickers are anonymous and the results are easily tabulated. Before using the clickers I tried out a system where students would raise a colored piece of paper to indicate an answer; I found that this was too much work for everyone, especially for the teacher who had to try and count how many of each piece were raised. Only worked when there was unanimity. That method also didn’t allow for any kind of anonymity.Also, at least with the clicker software I’m using, agile teaching is really easy; for instance, you can make it so that if the responses to a question meet a condition, the presentation automatically is moved to a specific slide. For example, we could say that if over half the class gets a question wrong, they have to go to a slide that summarizes the stuff they didn’t know, which could be followed by another question slide.We’ll see examples of this in a little bit, but for now let’s look at one particular method of agile teaching.
14On a scale of 1 to 5 rate how ready you are for the next slide (five being most, one being least) This is something I’ve thought about using to let students set the pace of hands-on times. I figure if students can actually be the ones to determine how long something takes, and thereby have the possibility of getting out a little earlier, then they’re going to have an incentive to stay on task .
15Time for tellingTime for telling is just a way of gaining student’s interest. You pose a question with answers that seem intuitively right, but which are wrong.
16Your sister calls to say she’s having twins Your sister calls to say she’s having twins. Which of the following is more likely? (Assume she’s not having identical twins.)Twin boysTwin girlsOne boy and one girlAll are equally likelyThis is an example from statistics – a good library example was hard to come up with.
17Peer instructionDeveloped mostly by physicist Eric Mazur at Harvard, who noticed students did poorly on applying their knowledge, even when they know how to answer complex equations and the like. Heavily used in sciences. If nothing else, using clickers or some other method to formally pose questions seems like a good way to structure student discussion. A lot of the research on effectiveness of clickers focuses on peer instruction. Seems very effective, though the actual technology used to facilitate it is unimportant (e.g., could use colored flash cards to do votes).
181: A person in Boulder, Colorado observes the planet Jupiter on the eastern horizon right after sunset. Six hours later Jupiter will be…Low in the southHigh in the southNearly directly overheadLow in the westNot visiblePer Judson and Sawada (174), “conceptual questions that are understandable to the layperson yet focus on deep understanding of fundamental science ideas have been found to promote the most substantive discussions."
192: A person in Boulder, Colorado observes the planet Jupiter on the eastern horizon right after sunset. Six hours later Jupiter will be…Low in the southHigh in the southNearly directly overheadLow in the westNot visible
21Games and contestsThis is pretty simple. With clickers, you can make games. Games might be something as simple as assigning points for each question, and looking at the leader at the end of the presentation, or we might make something as complex as a Jeopardy-like game. Gamification is becoming an accepted, increasingly looked-to way to engage students, as we see in the 2013 Horizon Report.
22Developing a Research Strategy Evaluating Material100200Here’s a little example of a Jeopardy-like game. The voting and leader boards are provided by the clicker software, but the actual navigation between slides is done through hyperlinking, which is just a standard, basic feature of Powerpoint. The “game board” you see on this screen is just a table, another basic feature of Powerpoint.Double JeopardyLeader Board
23Back to question screen You are assigned a research topic for geometry class on the history of Pascal’s triangle (5-10 pages). Which source is the best one for background information on this topicConcise Encyclopedia of MathematicsEncyclopedia of Science and TechnologyOxford English DictionaryTrigonometry Textbook25%Research strategy, 100. From SAILS.Back to question screen
24Back to question screen You want to write a paper on the politics of a poem by Allen Ginsberg entitled “Hadda Been Playing on the Jukebox” and have found only two articles, which is not enough for your paper. What is the best course of action?Change your topicBroaden your topicNarrow your topic33%Research strategy, 200. From SAILS.Back to question screen
25Back to question screen You hear on a radio talk show that Mad Cow Disease may have been found in Canada. How might you best determine the truth of this statement?Get a radio transcriptCheck the American Council on Beef websiteAsk some coworkersCheck the Department of Agriculture Website25%Evaluating and selecting, 100. From SAILS.Back to question screen
26Back to question screen You must write a paper on the environmental practices of Sony Corporation. Which of the following is most likely to provide balanced information?Environmental Protection Agency (epa.gov)Economic Development Board (edb.org)Sony (sony.com)Greenpeace (greenpeace.org)25%Evaluating and selecting, 200. From SAILS.Back to question screen
27Back to question screen Participant LeadersPointsParticipantBack to question screen
28What percentage of your current points would you like to wager on the next question? 0%25%50%75%100%
29According to Dewey’s spelling reform ideas, “fine view from the golfhouse” should be written as: Fin vew from golfhausFyn vu from golfhousFine viw from galfhouseFine view from gulfhouseFyn vew from gulfhaws20%
31Research todayResearch today is similar to what we got in the 70s. Students still love clickers. In my own experience, it’s not unusual to hear “oohs and ahs” when you pass the clickers around. Students who haven’t ever used them before are excited by the prospect of doing something new, while those whose other instructors already use them seem to have a persistently favorable opinion. Students jokingly asking if they can keep the clickers (maybe not realizing they’re useless without a receiver), and last week a student came up after class to talk to me at some length about the clickers. He left promising he’d come to the library and check them out for his presentation in a communications class.Clickers still increase attendance -- see Nelson, M. L., & Hauck, R. V. (2008). Clicking to Learn: A Case Study of Embedding Radio-Frequency based Clickers in an Introductory Management Information Systems Course. Journal of Information Systems Education, 19(1), 55–64.Clickers might even increase library use. There is an anecdotal report that of similar presentations, the one with clickers increased student library use significantly; see Matesic, M. A., & Adams, J. M. (2008). Provocation to Learn - A Study in the Use of Personal Response Systems in Information Literacy Instruction. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 3(1), 1–14.But one thing we don’t think clickers do is make kids learn more – at least on their own. We’ve found that it’s really method of teaching, and not the technology, that matters; if you can do something like peer instruction with nothing but flashcards or hands, then you’ll get the benefits. On the other hand, clickers do have some benefits… students like them, they generate discussion, they keep students’ attention, and they make assessment really easy.Before we talk about assessment, I want to mention attention span. We often hear that students can pay attention for only 10 to 15 minutes at a time. The research is kind of all over the place. For a good review, see Wilson, K., & Korn, J. H. (2007). Attention During Lectures: Beyond Ten Minutes. Teaching of Psychology, 34(2), 85–89. For a particularly interesting study, with important implications for clicker use, see Bunce, D. M., Flens, E. A., & Neiles, K. Y. (2010). How Long Can Students Pay Attention in Class? A Study of Student Attention Decline Using Clickers. Journal of Chemical Education, 87(12), 1438–1443. This study finds that students report attention lapses as early as the first thirty seconds of a lecture and then 4.5 minutes afterwards, with shorter intervals as class goes on. Student attention increases greatly during clicker questions or demonstrations, and stays high afterwards.
32Part Two: how we’re using clickers at Mat-Su College
33Let’s look at a real presentation. This is where I showed an example of a clicker-centric presentation I did with two sections of English 111.
34Where do questions come from? You can make them up…Thinking up clicker questions is so much harder than actually implementing them. This is true for librarians as it is for others. Scientists using clickers have done a nice job sharing questions and creating banks – we should do the same.
35Where do questions come from? You can make them up…Or you can “borrow” them:And indeed, there are sources on which we can draw as we come up with clicker questions. This URL has a ton of assessment tools used by libraries. Their questions can easily be converted into clicker questions.
36AssessmentGreat feature of clickers isn’t just what they do for students. We can also get data and easily store it and work with it.
37Qualitative evaluation responses – sometimes kind of useless. When you ask students to just volunteer information, it can be hard to make sense of if it’s short answers. Statistical information (e.g., “how many times have you seen a presentation like this?”) is easier to analyze, but it’s hard to compile if you’re using paper survey forms.
38“What is one highlight you will remember from this session?” Sources.That help on subjects are found in the library.The dude was cool.The library is the place to go!Using the library website efficiently.Helping with references.The library's more reliable and probably more true than google's results. The library seems like there is more accurate results.Thank you for sharing, we now know where to get useful information school or outside of school related.Using the library (beard).Use the library.Amish beard.“What didn’t you learn” is more useful, but it still relies on students knowing what they don’t know – and it comes too late to let us really do anything.
39Let’s look at some clicker assessment data. Here I showed the interface for working with answers to questions. I showed how you can compare results for different questions, and how you can see how answers change because of demographics (for instance, how many people who answered ‘0’ to ‘how many times have you seen a library presentation…’ got this question right, compared to those who answered ‘4’ to ‘how many times…’).