Integrating Active Learning with Clickers: Tips from a Faculty Workshop

How do you work on a problem with 200 students at once? How can you find out what 200 students are thinking? You ask them to “click”! A group of faculty discussed integrating active learning with clickers in a workshop led by Shawn Nordell and Beth Fisher of The Teaching Center. “Clickers,” or Classroom Response Systems, are small, handheld devices that allow students to respond to multiple-choice questions. They can be used to assess students’ understanding of problems or concepts, promote discussion of ideas, predict outcomes, elicit student misconceptions of material, and otherwise engage your students. It all starts with developing a learning goal and then developing a question that fits that learning goal. The second critical component is integrating small-group discussions that allow your students the opportunity to discuss the question and be prepared to explain their reasoning.

Key strategies discussed in the workshop included the following:

  • Integrate clicker-questions with a clear purpose and communicate that to your students
  • Ask questions early (at the beginning of the semester and class) and often (several times during each class)
  • Vary the difficult level when writing questions
  • Integrate small-group discussion
  • If clicker scores are part of the course grade, consider giving partial credit for any answer

If you are interested in learning more about integrating clickers into a course, please join us in the three-day STEM Faculty Institute on Teaching, June 14-16, where we will talk about a holistic approach to active teaching and learning. Please also feel free to contact us to set up an individual appointment to discuss integrating clickers into your courses.