Ask the Audience: Clickers in the Classroom

Ryan, Barry and Dunne, Julie (2011) Ask the Audience: Clickers in the Classroom. [Conference Proceedings]


Students are becoming ever more aware and comfortable with technology. It is part of their everyday life, and as such, integration of technology into the classroom is a 'fait accompli'. Research has proven that an engaged student will absorb and understand more, with blended learning a key method of student engagement. Personal Response Devices (A.K.A 'Clickers') provide a simple blended way in which to generate an atmosphere of student interaction that can simultaneously enhance critical thinking and problem solving amongst groups and individuals. Clickers can also provide an immediate source of feedback for the academic and student, rapidly identifying areas of mis-understanding. Previous studies have cited the enthusiastic response of students towards Clickers and also the potential improvements in student learning based on Clicker use. In this study, Clickers were introduced into both the lecture and laboratory environment for a first year undergraduate foundation organic chemistry module taught across Levels 6, 7 and 8 courses. Clicker usage encompassed small groups of three or less in lectures (n=120) or individually in laboratory situations (n=32). In the lecture environment, Clickers were employed to poll student comprehension of the fundamentals of chemical structure, nomenclature and reaction prediction, after a small group discussion on a given multiple choice question. Pre- laboratory concept understanding, experimental outcome prediction and safety issues were polled individually with the Clickers in the laboratory. Pedagogical evaluation of Clicker usage took the form of an anonymous student multiple choice questionnaire and a student discussion forum facilitated by an independent academic. Students commented that Clickers effectively improved their interaction, engagement and participation in class. Furthermore, active-learning and an increased level of advance preparation was also evidenced. Although very successful in this study, however, there still remain some issues hindering increased Clicker usage in large undergraduate classes such as initial cost, maintenance and logistics.

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