June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.297.1 - 13.297.10
Clickers and Freshman Engineering Clinic Introduction
"Clickers" are gaining wide popularity at all levels of education, from K-12 to Universities. These electronic handheld devices communicate wirelessly with the instructor's laptop computer, which is used to project a multiple-choice question or quiz to the class. The students' responses are transmitted to the instructor via the clickers and the tallied result is provided nearly instantaneously in the form of a histogram. The students and the instructor receive immediate feedback on the students' state of learning and the instruction may be altered in a just-in-time fashion based on this information. Teachers and professors are enthusiastic about these devices because they promote student participation and classroom engagement and, if desired, they can be used as a form of graded assessment of student learning. Students enjoy using them in class because they help breakup the monotony of a long lecture and make the classes "fun."
In Fall 2007, the clickers were used in three sections of a Freshman Engineering Clinic, with approximately 60 students. The sections were taught by three different professors, two of whom were using this technology for the first time. Clickers were used to: • Provide instantaneous feedback, • Give and grade quizzes, • Evaluate individual students’ mastery of topics learned through participation in group projects, and • Evaluate the organization and completeness of student portfolios.
This represents a wide range of clicker applications, from common to unusual. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief background on clickers, describe the Engineering Clinic at Rowan University (especially the freshman clinic), describe the various clicker methods used in the Clinic, and evaluate the clicker applications based on instructor self-evaluation. The results of a survey of all faculty using clickers at Rowan University in Fall 2007 are also presented.
Clickers, also known as “classroom response systems” and by various trade names, are gaining wide acceptance in education. Although there are many vendors of clickers1-3, each with different hardware and software features, nearly all of them operate in a similar fashion in the classroom. References (4) and (5) provide excellent general introductions to clicker use in education. They are used by faculty members in disciplines ranging from applied and social sciences to the liberal arts to professional schools such as law, medicine, business and engineering, and in a wide variety of applications. Clickers may be used to take attendance, score students for classroom participation, quizzing, or simply for providing ungraded feedback to engage students and encourage learning.
In the most common application mode for using clickers, each student is provided a clicker. The professor would present a new topic or concept for no more than 10 minutes using traditional lecture, demonstration, or sample problem solution. Thereafter, he or she would pose a skill or concept question to gauge the students’ understanding. If the tallied responses show that a high
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