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In-class Anonymous Student Feedback and Interactivity at the Speed of Light!

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

New Engineering Educators Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.934.1 - 26.934.6



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Paper Authors


Faisal Shaikh Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Faisal Shaikh joined MSOE 5 years ago in a unique interdisciplinary engineering program called BioMolecular engineering. The program is a combination of molecular biology and chemical engineering and is unique in the nation. He developed most of the core chemical engineering courses in this program, albeit with a biological focus. He is also a champion of industry-academia partnerships and has been instrumental in bringing industry sponsorship to a number of the senior design projects in the program. He is also keen in engaging students in his classrooms using a variety of methods while developing some.

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In-class anonymous student feedback and interactivity at the speed of light!The purpose of this work is to provide the instructor in a classroom a simple new method ofreceiving instant, real-time and anonymous student feedback. Anonymous methods of studentfeedback are critical to encourage introvert students (that are typically close to 50% inengineering programs) to participate in the learning process. The most common ‘raising-hand’approach to respond to an instructors question misdirects the flow of the instructors teaching tothe understanding of the extrovert student(s) who raised the hand. Getting all or most of thestudents to respond allows both the instructor and students to get an accurate impression of theextent of understanding that students have reached at any point during classroom instruction.This allows students to comfortably ask specific questions they may otherwise feel reluctant toask. In this proposed method, each student in the classroom is provided a laser pointer to pointto the blackboard or presentation screen to provide feedback or responses. Each question isgenerally addressed to the entire class and each student is expected to respond by pointing tospecific locations on the blackboard/screen.The barriers of technology (eg. internet based feedback, or cell phone messaging based feedback,clicker hardware setup, high setup costs, time lag in gathering responses) are removed and theproposed method provides significant improvements in all aspects of garnering studentunderstanding and generating a considerably more interactive class environment. A number ofexamples of general engineering topics are discussed. The advantages of utilizing this method tothese topics are provided to provide a framework of general strategies that could be employed forsimilar topics.The closest technology/technique used currently for these purposes is the use of clickers. Thecost of laser pointers is considerably lower($1 per pointer) than clickers and provides moreflexibility in asking questions(compared to asking only multiple choice ‘a-d’ questions) andinteracting with the class along with no time wastage in hauling and setting up clickers in eachclass. Qualitative feedback, where students could point to an engineering design or chart(thermodynamic charts, specific terms in long engineering equations, electrical circuits,instrument design, equipment) can be smartly utilized to ease the teaching process. The burdenon the instructor to design questions adapted to clicker feedback is nullified as the instructor canimprovise during a lecture to ask a question gauging the understanding of a concept.Additionally, the degree of student understanding can be qualitatively obtained by simplydrawing a short line segment for students to point to one extreme to signify ‘no understanding’and to another for ‘complete understanding’ and anywhere in between to show the level of‘partial understanding’- all this in an instant with almost full participation by students.Additionally, in this paper, pros and cons of common methods currently used for quick studentfeedback will be laid out in contrast to this technique.

Shaikh, F. (2015, June), In-class Anonymous Student Feedback and Interactivity at the Speed of Light! Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24271

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