Ten Tips for Using “Clickers” in your Class

Clickers or other student response systems are instructional technology platforms used to increase students’ engagement in a classroom. Besides actively engaging students, clickers help instructors gauge the students’ understanding in real time and identify areas of confusion. Clickers also provide instant feedback to students’ answers, which help students monitor their own understanding. Currently, there are more than 114 UH instructors who use clickers in their classrooms.

If you’re already using clickers or your interested in them? Here’s ten tips on how to effectively integrate clickers into your class:

  1. Explain to students why they are using a clicker, so that students don’t think the clicker is only used to track their attendance.
  2. Give students all the information they need to use clickers successfully. In the beginning of the semester, prominently post/announce clicker instructions. For example, I have prepared a “student clicker guide” which includes purchase of a clicker, support, Blackboard registration, and usage of a clicker in class.
  3. Enforce a clicker registration deadline. Actively manage registrations early on in the semester to avoid being overwhelmed later on. Set a deadline and remind the students repeatedly of it.
  4. Run a trial at the beginning of the semester so students will get comfortable with the technology and the instructor can address all the students’ questions and concerns. Then, post the students’ participation points from this trial to build their confidence in the technology.
  5. To increase the learning, you can use the “peer instruction”. This technique makes the students answer question individually, then discuss the question with students sitting next to them, then answer the question again. Students are able to learn more when they have a chance to discuss the question with one another.
  6. Report points right away. If clicker questions are graded, students will be anxious to know their results. Upload students’ clicker points every week to ease anxiety and minimize questions.
  7. To encourage participation in class, you may be willing to give partial credit for just answering questions.
  8. Use a combination of simple and challenging conceptual questions. You can ask the simple questions as a starting point. These questions are on material covered in lecture or from the textbook. Then, you need to add the challenging conceptual ones which can stimulate students to think in more detail about the topic. Studies have shown that students see challenging questions as the most useful for their learning.
  9. Have a plan when students have clicker issues or forget to bring them to class. For example, allow students to write answers on a piece of paper or inform where students can get clicker support.
  10. Tell students that using a clicker for another classmate is cheating and what the consequences would be.

Interested in trying clickers in your class? Get started now! If you have more tips, please share below.

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