I recently had the opportunity to write a whitepaper for DYMO/Mimio Interactive about use of hi-tech TechnologiesStudent Response Systems (aka “clickers”) in the classroom. In full disclosure, DYMO/Mimio, a Newell Rubbermaid company, is my former employer.
When I was working in the educational technology hardware industry one of the most common questions I was asked was some variation of “Can you show me research that says that if I put this equipment in my classroom my students’ outcomes will improve?” This was a question that I got not just from customers, but from colleagues alike. It was a fascinating and shocking question to me. The idea that adding a chunk of metal and plastic into a classroom would suddenly, magically, transform academic performance was one that people so badly wanted to be true…an educational panacea…what better way to solve the education problem AND generate sales?
Of course, as a learning scientist, my career has been spent studying how to arrange instruction and the instructional environment to generate optimal learner outcomes. And over the years I had yet to see a film projector, overhead projector, DVD player…and yes, even an interactive white board (IWB), laptop, tablet or student response system that, by its very addition to the classroom, produced meaningful change in learner performance. My instructional design colleagues and I scratched our heads….it was a mystery to us that some didn’t recognize this hardware for what it was….a set of tools whose meaningful use was utterly dependent upon effective instructional design and curriculum.
When research about the positive impact of using Student Response Systems started appearing more frequently in the literature you can imagine the excitement in the industry. But the understanding of why those effects were being produced…of which instructional practices were most appropriate for SRS devices to be used effectively…was still all but absent. That challenge was the impetus for this whitepaper. To say, “Yes, using devices in the classroom can impact learner outcomes….BUT, the manner in which the device is implemented instructionally is what determines the success.
I’ve excerpted from the whitepaper my top 12 best practice recommendations here, as well as the set of 65 references I culled from the literature. Happy reading and please share your experiences using clickers in your own classroom! What’s worked best for you??
1. Remember that the primary use of SRS should be for formative assessment. Increasing opportunities to evaluate student performance allows real-time adjustment of instruction.
2. Include only those questions that are pertinent to the targeted student learning outcomes; questions that are arbitrary or irrelevant should not be used.
3. Integrate questions throughout the lesson so that student understanding can be evaluated frequently and regularly. Leaving all questions until the end of the lesson does not allow for changing the instruction along the way.
4. Endeavor to write questions that target some of higher-level skills described by Bloom’s
Taxonomy (Pear et al., 2001). Multiple-choice questions are not restricted to low-level
skills, if written properly.
5. When working on new skill acquisition, include enough questions with novel examples to ensure that students are getting sufficient practice and generalization opportunities.
6. Be careful not to give away an answer through irrelevant cues, such as a pattern of correct answers or the wording of the question.
7. If you include items in which the student must identify the answer that does NOT
belong, write the word “NOT” in all capital letters and in bold, so that it is as clear
8. Ensure that the correct answer is clearly the best one, but do use plausible distracters.
The point is not to trick the learners. The point is to use the questions to evaluate the
instruction the learners have received.
9. When using Vote-Discuss-ReVote methods in class, do not show graphs of student
response distribution following the first vote in order to avoid biased response shifting.
10. Make sure you review and analyze the data after the class is over. By examining
the patterns of what worked and what did not, you can improve the instruction for
11. If you want to increase attendance in your class, use the SRS daily.
12. Be willing to throw out or regrade questions that are unclear.
To download and read the entire whitepaper, please visit THE Journal:
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