March 18, 2014
Using CLICKERS to their full potential. Discussion lead by Emily Lloyd, PhD Candidate & Adjunct Professor. We discussed recent developments in clicker technology, specifically relating to “iclickers.” Technical issues of use in classrooms were addressed along with strategies for implementing clickers to increase student engagement.

Our technical discussion of iclickers followed this online resource: “Clickers 101: A Clicker Primer for College Faculty.” We discussed the use of the base station, media storage devices, instructors’ clickers, and student clickers. iclicker software was addressed and its integration with online learning services such as Blackboard. Other resources included Instructor FAQs.

Emily introduced various strategies she has implemented to use the clickers in her introductory classes. She regularly administers 10 question reading quizzes using clickers. She finds that clickers expedite the process and facilitate efficient grading procedures. Most attendees were also interested in “on-the-fly” questions that can be created immediately in class using the on-screen clicker software and functionality. Options for “on-the-fly” questions include opinion polling (with the option for anonymity), gauging student understanding, receiving quick student feedback, immediate quizzing on lecture material, and student-directed questions to encourage discussion. Emily discussed Mollborn & Hoeskstra 2010 and their presentation of clicker questions types.

How can these various question types be integrated into a single class session?

An example from an introductory sociology of gender class (50 mins) illustrates the interweaving of lecture, clicker questions, and discussions:
• The instructor starts a unit on gender and the household division of labor with a 5 minute lecture segment relating household labor to an earlier unit on the workplace. Students then collaborate in large-group discussion to create an inclusive definition of household labor. Responses are listed on the blackboard, and students are encouraged to include ‘‘invisible’’ types of labor, such as kin-keeping.
• Next, the instructor uses a past experience question asking students to report which of their parents does more household labor on the basis of the definition the class just created, discussing their families’ situations with their neighbors.
• Revealing the distribution of responses, the instructor leads a large-group discussion of gender inequality in household labor. Students are encouraged to offer real-life information about why the divisions of labor might have been inequitable in their families (e.g., families trying to maximize income). The instructor uses this discussion as a springboard for 10 minute lecture on human capital explanations for who does the housework.
• Then, a concept test question is used to test students’ understanding of this theory by applying it to a new empirical situation in which the woman outearns the man.
• To cap off the lesson, an opinion question encompassing small group discussions of students’ answers prompts students to consider how useful they personally think human capital explanations are for explaining who does housework.
• The concluding large-group discussion helps students identify shortcomings in the human capital explanation.

Emily emphasized the importance of student-centered use of clickers. While clickers can be teacher-centered in reducing grading loads, they should also be approached for the focus of increasing student engagement with lecture, assessment, and the class as a whole. Lori Barkwill Love also discussed her reading on the subject. She found that graded clicker use should not exceed 10% of the total course grade otherwise, students may resent the use of clickers. Lori and Emily both emphasized that clickers should be used to give students opportunities for autonomy in class. By providing options in quizzes and even lecture through clickers, students can feel they have input in class and the determination of their grade.

A large part of our discussion concerned the significance of using anonymous polling features of clickers to open discussion of sensitive topics in anthropology. We discussed how the anonymous features function and the great benefit to apprehensive students or more open opinion sourcing that this feature can offer in many anthropology courses.

Meeting Attendees: Dr. Kat Brown, Jenna Bonavia, Lori Barkwill Love, Griette van der Heide, Jessica Juarez, Guillaume Pages, and Leah McCurdy