Effectiveness of Clickers

Professor Tulin Johansson:

One of my goals in my teaching is to elevate my students from passive listeners to active participants. To achieve this goal I implemented the use of clickers in my Principles of Economics classes since fall 2006 and realized many benefits of this technology since then. Not only had my students become more engaged and active learners, clickers improved attendance to 90%, and encouraged critical thinking. Clicker technology also improved classroom dynamics for both student-instructor and student-student interactions.

After I explain the core economic concept in class I immediately ask a relevant question that is directly related to a learning objective. I let them to talk to and discuss the question with their neighbors. They are asked to convince their neighbors that their answer is better than the neighbors' answer. This approach helps them to interact with their classmates and encourage them to share information among themselves and also facilitate teaching to each other. I believe that there is more learning achieved when students can learn from both me and each other. Being able to share ideas, validate them with those of others, and teamwork are very important in any learning process. Students are also able to see they are not alone when they get a wrong answer. This takes away their shyness about asking the questions in class and promotes more discussion in classroom. Once students get in the active learning mode, their engagement and willingness to respond carries over to asking and answering questions verbally even without clickers. Clickers also provides me a very useful means of checking students' understanding of material covered in the lectures quickly so that I can more accurately determine what materials I should revisit in the lectures and homework assignments.

In addition, students like using clickers in the class and they have provided me with many positive feedback. Some students say "use of clicker questions was extremely helpful to retain information Professor presented throughout the semester, and made it easier to participate in class."

Although clickers bring many benefits to learning environment, one drawback is that less material can be covered in lectures. However, I feel that this is more than compensated by greater understanding of core concepts of economics.

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