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12 Ways UCSB Professors Are Using Clickers

1. Think—Pair—Share

Instructor poses question, polls class using clicker. Students are then encouraged to compare answers in pairs and discuss their reasoning. Instructor then re-polls class. This can be used in conjunction with a demonstration, movie clip, simulation, etc. Histogram of responses can be displayed after first polling, and/or after second polling.

2. Getting to Know You

Demographics, student experience, interest, fun Connect with students on a personal level by asking them questions related to their own experiences or interest. This information can help make your course more relevant by tailoring examples, paper topics, and case studies to students’ experiences and interests. A variety of questions can be used as a “break” in the lecture—a way to change up the pace and re-engage students.

3. Confidence Level

Students often have a difficult time gauging their own mastery of course concepts. By asking them how confident they are about a particular topic, then polling them on a representative question, you can help students better calibrate their own understanding.

4. Exploring Opinions

Students choose from a list of opinions; the instructor can ask the audience for additional perspectives and add them as choices. Voting may spur students to become interested in each other’s points of view; adding in peer discussion can allow multiple perspectives to be examined more closely and can help avoid the primacy effect.

5. Complete these Steps

Enumerate 3-5 steps or stages of an activity for students to complete. Ask students to click A when they have finished the first step, B, after the 2nd, etc. Showing the histogram as students progress can help students stay on task, and give instructor clues as to when to move on.

6. Predict Outcome of a Demonstration

Students become more interested in a demonstration when they have first committed to a prediction via a clicker question. This allows them to test their own understanding.

7. Live Action Data

Generate data that students will use in a problem or assignment. This can help bring abstract ideas to life.

8. Polling Subset of a Class

Allows instructor to explore opinions/knowledge of subgroups (e.g. those of you who have taken X class, those of you with ___ real world experience, freshmen vs. juniors, please answer the following question...).

9. True/False questions posed at the beginning and end of the class

This encourages timeliness and discourages students from packing up early. The question at the beginning of class ties into a major concept from the previous lecture, acting    as a segue into the new material. The question at the end of class draws attention to a main point from the lecture and keeps students thinking about the course concept after class.

10. Anonymous responses to sensitive questions

Encourage students to respond to questions that may be too sensitive for a “show of hands” in- class poll. The anonymous polling function lets to track whether or not students voted, without recording which answer choice they selected.

11. Questions tie in with homework, readings, study guides, or past lectures

This can be an effective way to encourage students to come to class prepared, and to highlight important concepts. One instructor promised to put certain questions from the homework/reading that 80% or more of the class got correct on the midterm/final exam. Consider your grading strategy carefully—some students who do the reading will still answer incorrectly; thus most students prefer that points be given for participation but not for correct/incorrect.

12. Pre- and post- questions

Asking a medium-difficult question before explaining a concept or theory can help students become engaged with the upcoming topic. After explaining the concept, see how many students are able to correctly answer the question. Getting feedback on students’ understanding can allow you to adjust your explanations on the fly, particularly when incorrect answer choices have been constructed to represent common misconceptions.

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