Design your clicker based course

If it is the first time you are using clickers, we suggest you to ask for personalized support or to register for our “hands on” workshop on clickers. More information here.

 

Clickers are not particularly useful or revolutionnary in themselves. Clickers are just a tool, and what really matters is how you use it.
Below are some key factors of success when designing a clicker-based course.
 

1. Prepare your questions

  • Focus your questions on concepts that are important and challenging for students to learn (you will spend lecture time on those questions, time that you will not be able to spend on something else)
  • Use simple question types like MCQ so that students focus on understanding the content of your question, not its form
  • Choose carefully the formulation of questions and of the response options

 

For each clicker question, we suggest checking the following points:

Why ask this question?
  • What is the purpose of asking this question?
  • Is this question addressing one of the learning objectives of your course?
  • Can this question be considered as a learning activity (a kind of exercise, problem, debate…) which is complementary to your lecture?
What do you ask?
  • Does the question help clarifying/applying/deepening a fundamental concept of the course?
  • Is the question challenging the common difficulties, misconceptions, assumptions or preconceptions of your students?
  • What do you expect from your students when they reflect on the question: to remember, to apply, to compare, to analyze…?
How do you ask?
  • Is the question clear?
  • Is this question a question? Is it well structured (straight to the point, focused…)?
  • Are the response options plausible?
  • Will you (and your students) be able to make sense of the resulting chart after the vote?
When do you ask?
  • At what point in your lecture will you ask this question?
  • How much time will you dedicate to this question?
  • How will you use the results of the vote (to adapt the content of your lecture, to start a debate, to introduce an experiment…)?

  

2. Re-think the structure of your course

  • More interactivity = less lecturing! A typical one-hour lecture can include 3 to 4 questions. But you can also structure an entire lecture around clicker questions…
  • Choose the key moments at which you will ask a clicker question depending on your goal
    (e.g. assess prior knowledge, assess understanding, detect misconception, apply knowledge, relate to other concepts…)
     

3. Prepare to interact with students around questions

  • Prepare yourself to react to students’ responses – first because you can get unexpected results, but even when all students have the righ answer, it is important to debrief it with them (even very shortly) because they may have chosen the right answer for the wrong reasons…
  • Use the results of the vote in your lecture, e.g. to introduce your next lecture part, to start a debate, to adapt the plan of your lesson, etc.
  • Use an interaction strategy to maximise students’ participation

 

4. Practice before class

Because clickers are technology, we recommend you to practice before class (and if possible in realistic conditions) to get used to the manipulations of the equipment.

In particular, it is important to get familiar with the TurningPoint software:

  • Test PowerPoint polling vs. Anywhere polling and choose the solution that best fits your needs;
  • Create various types of questions, start a poll, check how students will have to vote on each question and reflect on how you will interpret the resulting chart.

We also highly recommend you to test the system in the classroom, bringing some voting devices with you.

The polling software may change the behavior of your computer when connected to the beamer.
► It is important that you take time to test your questions in slideshow mode before your class.

And if you are going to allow students to vote with their smartphones, don’t forget to check that:

  • Your computer can connect to the wifi network and you can start a ResponseWare session;
  • Another device, e.g. a smartphone, can access the wifi and access your ResponseWare session.