Posts Tagged ‘classroom response systems’

What’s new with iClickers at SFU?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Though it seems like summer has hardly arrived, I’ve noticed that people are planning already for the fall semester.

If you are planning on using iClickers in your classroom this fall, now is the time to order the iClickers through the SFU bookstore. It’s the same process as ordering text books, which makes it easy. I recommend that you download the updated iClicker software from their site. The MAC and PC software were updated this Spring, with new features. You can get updated user guides on their site as well. If you have a clicker base unit, you are all set, and if not, you can contact Amy Severson (ajs [at] sfu [dot] ca) or 778-782-7245. iClicker has produced a short video (no audio) that gives you a basic preview of the software for delivering and reviewing questions.

Now is a good time to think about what kinds of questions you want to ask as well:

  1. Tracking attitudes or opinions: ask questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer, but ask students to make a judgment based on their experience or what you’ve discussed or read in the classroom.
  2. Exam questions: Practice questions from past exams can give students a sense of what might appear on the exam or where their gaps of knowledge might be.
  3. Check in or Comprehension questions: Ask questions for which you’ve just provided the answer, to emphasize the importance of what you’ve said, or to help them apply what they’ve just been told.
  4. Reminders: Asking questions based on pre-requisite or key points of the readings can trigger that background knowledge they’ll need to follow you on the next point (a useful reminder on the value of readings!)
  5. Transitional questions: Rhetorical questions to spark their interest – they may not have the knowledge or background to answer the question, but it provides a bridge to the next topic.

Good luck in the new semester; you’ve got an opportunity to get to know your students, encourage application of knowledge, implement some active learning and give and receive feedback on student learning. Be prepared, and tell your students how your implementation will assist in their learning.

Educational Research on Classroom Response Systems (aka clickers)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I’ve been working my way through some interesting research and other resources on classroom response systems recently.

Bruff’s book offers useful practice-oriented support for instructors. He cites some useful concepts developed by Eric Mazur (peer instruction) and Ian Beatty et al. (agile teaching).  I appreciate the work for its focus on exposing learners’ misconceptions through thought provoking question and then responding to the resulting complexity through on-the-spot, in-the-moment facilitation.

Bruff  introduced me to the concept of  the “backchannel” – offering students ways of sending informal questions and comments to the instructor on-the-spot and in-the-moment. I had seen this activity in action at ETUG the other week, but I hadn’t made the connection to large-group lectures at the university.

Instructors, I think, would find the chapter on question types particularly helpful.

Here are the resources I’ve gathered so far:

Banks, D. (ed.) (2006). Audience response systems in higher education: Applications and cases. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Available online <>.

Beatty, I.D. and Gerace, W.J. (2009). Technology-enhanced formative assessment: A research-based pedagogy for teaching science with classroom response systems. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18. 146-162. Retrieved 3 Nov 2009 from <>.

Bruff, D. (2009). Teaching with classroom response systems: Creating active learning environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Available in print at SFU Library: LB 1027.23 B78 2009.

Crouch, C.H., Watkins, J., Fagan A.P., and Mazur, E. (2007). Peer instruction: Engaging students one-on-one, all at once. Research-based reform of university physics, 1(1). 1-55. Retrieved 3 Nov 2009 from <>

Mazur, E. (1997). Peer instruction: A user’s guide. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Available in print at SFU Library: QC 30 M345 1997.