Teaching with ‘clickers’

In UWE we can use ‘clickers’ and software from TurningPoint to make presentations and lectures more engaging. A number of lecture theatres (4D56, 1N05, 2B020, 2B025, 2D67, 4B031 and ECC Lecture Theatre) have clickers permanently installed on the seating and portable kits (sets of clickers and a USB receiver) are available for staff to borrow for use in any classroom. All teaching rooms have the TurningPoint software pre-installed on the teacher’s computer.

But use of clickers for teaching is still somewhat sporadic. One reason is that tutors, fully aware that simple multiple choice questions can have their limitations,  find it hard to know what kind of questions to ask of students to best help them to learn.

“Many instructors see multiple-choice questions as limited to testing students’ recall of facts. However, multiple-choice clicker questions can actually serve many other purposes in the class, including assessing students’ higher-order thinking skills. Since clicker questions can be used not only to assess students but to engage them, some very effective clicker questions are quite different than multiple-choice questions that might appear on exams.” (Derek Bruff, Director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching)

This webpage from Vanderbilt University provides a useful guide to teaching with ‘clickers’ and includes a list of 8 types of clicker questions you could try, each with a paragraph of explanation:

  • Recall Questions
  • Conceptual Understanding Questions
  • Application Questions
  • Critical Thinking Questions
  • Student Perspective Questions
  • Confidence Level Questions
  • Monitoring Questions
  • Classroom Experiments

There are also some suggested activities for using clickers in class plus a list of examples of use, including examples from Mathematics and Architectural Engineering.