How can I Use Clickers Effectively to Encourage Active Learning?

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Check Out the New Blog HowcanIUseClickersEffectivelytoEncourageActiveLearningClickers are also known as Audience response systems (ARS), student response systems (SRS) or personal response systems (PRS). These input devices allow students to express their views freely under the cloak of anonymity, as only the cumulative response of the class is shown on the public screen. They help to make the lesson interactive and keep the students alert and ready to respond.

Clickers have been found to be effective in facilitating student participation and interest within the class. It helps the teacher to judge the comprehension of the content and assists in providing prompt feedback.  Here’s how.

Student participation and interest: The game show made the use of the audience poll lifeline very popular.  Is the use of SRS in the classroom any different? Use of clickers gives a “game feel” to the lecture. Added to this is the advantage of invisibility that encourages everyone to answer a question without fearing failure or humiliation. In this era of frequent technology use, use of clickers is also easier and feasible than counting the number of raised hands for options “A, B, C and D”.

Judging comprehension: The usual question-answer sessions do not allow for evaluating the knowledge of all students for a particular question, as only one or two answers the same. However the numbering of the input device allows the teachers to evaluate the individual responses and thereby gain insight regarding the students understanding of the contents of the class.

Feedback mechanism: The graphical representation on the public screen can help teachers to further expand on the topic by asking open ended questions like “what made you feel option A is correct?” and can in turn provide both feedback and clarification to the content.

How can we incorporate clickers effectively in the classroom?

For the effective use of clickers keep things simple and structured. Here are some easy tips that can be followed:

Questions and answers: Questions framed should be of optimal challenge, thought provoking and questioning the key points of the content. Frame the answers in a manner that encourages students to critically think and analyze about what they learnt in class. Remember it is not the answers that counts, but the reasoning that we are trying to sharpen.

The polling system: Decide on how and when to introduce the polling slides, you can have it either as a closure activity or a quick check in between the content to stimulate the students into action. The time for voting for an answer must be decided in advance. Usually, 45 seconds to 1 minute is recommended. Another option is a trigger finger/ fastest finger round of less than 30 seconds duration. You may also introduce a timer to keep note of the time remaining for answering. Once the answers are tallied, the teachers can use a different color to highlight the most appropriate answer to the question. An important point to consider is to keep the voting system simple. Have a maximum of five options, as this prevents confusion.

Discussions: Encourage the class to have discussions regarding the result. In this phase, teachers can encourage and facilitate the flow of ideas, thoughts, clarification and expansion of the content.

Finally, test the system before use to make sure that it works correctly. To retain the novelty of the technology, make use of clickers when it is most appropriate and in this way you will be able to facilitate active learning in the classroom.

Discuss here: How have you used clickers in the classroom?

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