VC classes go high-tech with clickers

Starting this semester, some professors at Victoria College have begun using what’s known as a classroom response system—affectionately called “clickers”—to aid in classroom instruction.

The classroom response system includes hardware and software that allows the instructor to pose multiple-choice questions to the class electronically using overhead computer projection. Each student, aided by a clicker, may submit a response that is sent to the instructor’s receiver via radio frequency beam attached to his or her computer.

The computer then tabulates the responses from the class and produces a bar chart that shows how many students chose each of the answer choices.

The system allows instructors to customize lectures to support areas where students are demonstrating less comprehension.

“What’s great about this system is that I get better feedback,” said Jeremy Mauer, associate professor of government at VC. “Students are often reluctant to respond because they’re shy or afraid to give an incorrect answer. Now they can answer anonymously and I know exactly which areas my students get and which topics need more emphasis.”

“The clickers also provide an anonymous way for my government students to express their political opinions without having to risk getting embroiled in contentious disagreements,” added Mauer. “That makes for more focused and relevant class discussion.”

The CRS clickers help students maintain focus during lectures and provide immediate feedback to instructors while also adding a bit of drama and interest to traditional instruction. While student responses to questions are displayed during class as a tabulated bar graph calculating the number of answers, clickers are coded with student information, which also makes it faster and easier for instructors to take attendance.

According to VC government student Daniel Byrd, clickers are very useful.

“I think they’re great,” said Byrd. “It is really helpful for the instructor to see which areas the class needs more focus on, and there has been a lot more class participation.”

“I just wish more of my classes were using the system because the clicker was expensive and so far I’m only using it in the one class,” he added.

Bill Coons, chair of the VC Department of Science, originally wrote a grant proposal to the Victoria College Foundation requesting funding for the classroom response system.

“I like the CRS clickers because they provide an instant record of attendance that is stored for future reference, and they encourage classroom participation along with giving instant feedback,” said Coons. “As technology continues to become more a fundamental part of everyday interaction, we need to harness this as a resource to address the lack of interaction in the traditional lecture format of instruction.”

The VC Foundation awarded a grant of $3,000 to help purchase classroom response system components and software last spring.


by Katy Long, posted Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Published: Monday, 11 October 2010

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