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Clickers

A teaching panel discussion Engage, Click, Discuss on the use of clickers in math and computer science lectures was held April 5, 2016.

The panelists talked about their motivation to try clickers in the classroom, the challenges and the benefits.

Watch the discussion, hosted by Math Teaching Fellow Cyntha Struthers with panelists

  • Shane Bauman (Dean's Office)
  • Ricardo Fukasawa (Combinatorics & Optimization)
  • Diana Skrzydlo (Statistics & Actuarial Science)
  • Dave Tompkins (Computer Science)

Four panelists and the facilitator describe their experiences using clickers in their classroom teaching (especially in large classes)– how it works, advantages and disadvantages.

Clicker advocates consider them a valuable learning and engagement tool. Asking clicker questions in class creates “teachable moments” that involve students more fully than lecturing alone, with class and peer-to-peer discussion of the answers. The panelists acknowledge that a grade needs to be assigned to this form of participation for students to take it seriously, and present solutions to mitigate issues that arise. Time for clicker use is the biggest challenge, but much of it is up-front and the presenters agreed that it’s a useful investment in better teaching and learning.

The feeling of anonymity that clickers enable makes it easier for uncertain students to participate than putting up their hands. In addition to helping them think differently about the material being presented, clicker questions can ‘wake up’ the students who are way ahead, and serve as a red flag to students who might think they know the material but really don’t. For instructors, clicker questions help provide quick feedback on teaching style and level of understanding in the classroom.