San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.759.1 - 25.759.19
Incorporating Clickers and Peer Instruction into Large Structural Engineering ClassroomsInteraction and feedback are particularly challenging in large lecture environments, where classsize limits student-faculty interaction. Clickers can be used to ensure students understandfundamental concepts by providing instant feedback to the instructor about student knowledgegaps or misconceptions. The use of clickers also helps maintain students’ motivation andengagement in what’s going on in class, and provides an opportunity for Peer Instruction (PI).Clickers have been used since 1998 in many science courses such as physics, biology andchemistry, but have only recently been implemented in large engineering courses. This paperdemonstrates the use of clickers in two large introductory Structural Engineering courses at amajor public research university. Implementation details and best practices are highlighted.In the traditional pedagogical approach, students are first exposed to the material in lecture, andthen must learn challenging material through their textbook and homework, and ultimately showknowledge mastery through exams. This approach provides little opportunity for feedback duringthe learning process. This is contrasted with requiring that students are first exposed to anddevelop fundamental understanding of material on their own through reading assignments priorto lecture. This allows students to construct their understanding individually. This initialknowledge is then tested via clickers at the beginning of class to determine if students haveadequately prepared to engage and learn in lecture. The instructor then presents challengingmaterial through a combination of traditional lecture and clicker-based concept questionsallowing students to test their understanding of the material. Clickers provide the instructorwith instantaneous feedback on whether students have mastered the concept, or if they havesignificant misconceptions, which could be addressed immediately. This process gives studentsthe opportunity to receive expert help and explanation from the instructor when they need it.Use of clickers during lecture also supports the implementation of PI to complement thetraditional lecture style. In PI, students first answer a question individually, and then discuss theconcepts with their peers. Students then answer the same or a similar question again, allowingthem to change their answers based on the discussion. Observations from case studies presentedin this paper demonstrate that often peer discussion of clicker questions is an engaging andeffective technique that increases student comprehension. Should PI cause the consensus answerto converge to an incorrect solution, then the instructor can discuss and correct themisconception.The assessment of overall impact on student learning using clickers will be presented throughresults from formative and summative assessments, including daily reading quiz scores, midtermgrades, and post-course student surveys. Additional evidence for improved student achievementwill be presented qualitatively, including descriptions of student engagement in the materialpresented during lectures. Finally, the use of clickers to achieve Peer Instruction will bediscussed in terms of its implementation, strengths, and limitations in the context of a largelecture hall environment. This paper asserts that the use of clickers supports an effective learningprocess that provides greater opportunity for students to get feedback from their peers and fromthe expert professor.
Van Den Einde, L., & Lee, S. H., & Le, J. L. (2012, June), Incorporating Clickers and Peer Instruction into Large Structural Engineering Classrooms Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21516
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