i>Clicker

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i>Clicker GO app on iPhone 7

In September, 2012, Laura Zirbel wrote a post about her experience with using i>Clickers in the classroom. I used to be very against i>Clickers. Oftentimes I found they were used solely as a means of determining attendance and not as a tool to help students learn course material. I am teaching a combined precalculus and trigonometry course this semester and have incorporated i>Clickers into my lectures and am loving the results.

The class I teach is part of the EXCEL and COMPASS programs (loosely, programs designed to retain STEM majors and encourage students to declare a STEM major, respectively) at UCF. It meets MWF for 1 hour and 50 minutes each time. My 142 Students (and I) sometimes have difficulty remaining focused throughout this long period of time unless they have something to keep them actively engaged.

I use Beamer to create slideshows with a question and choices (I usually stick to A-D, but sometimes have A-E or even fewer options). Depending on the question, I may insert a \pause command into Beamer so that students cannot see the answer choices right away. Students are allowed and are encouraged to work together on these questions. This part gets the students talking to one another about math and helps them determine what they are and are not understanding. After polling has closed I show how many students chose which answer. I try to choose the wrong choices I give the students so that I can see what mistakes students are making (this can be tough at times). I then show the correct answer and the next slide has an explanation of why that is the correct answer. If a majority of students answer the question incorrectly, I make sure to go through the explanation in detail. If the majority answer it correctly, I briefly talk through the explanation and then leave it for the students to go through it after I have posted it on Canvas for them to view.  (An example from Chapter 2 of my course can be viewed here.)

My students who are already declared STEM majors take a STEM seminar class. Part of this class is they have reviews for their math class the week of or the week before their exam. We also have an in class review before each exam. I conduct these reviews solely with i>Clicker questions. This allows the students extra time to practice problems. It also gives me an idea of the types of material with which they are struggling. While students are working through the problems, I walk around the classroom and listen to their discussions about the problems. This gives me time to ask individual students or groups of students why they are answering questions the way they do, giving me a better idea of their degree of understanding.

The i>Clicker grades are 5% of the final course grade. Each question is worth 2 points. Students receive 1 point for answering the question and another point for answering the question correctly. At the end of each class, I just have to go into the iGrader software and click which answer is correct for each question. It also assigns 1 participation point to students who answered a certain percentage of questions during that class period (you can choose what percentage you want). UCF has i>Clicker integrated into Canvas, so then I just have to click a few buttons and the grades are automatically imported into Canvas for students to see. One thing I found early in the semester is that some (maybe 2 or 3) would just click whatever button without thinking at all (e.g. they clicked E when E was not even an answer choice). The iGrader software will still give a point for all choices A-E unless you tell it otherwise. After I told students that selecting an answer that was not a choice would give them no credit for that question, that situation stopped happening.

About 75% of my students already had an i>Clicker for another class. This prompted me to allow the i>Clicker GO application (seen in the photo at the top of this post) in my classroom. It allows students to answer the questions using their phone, tablet, laptop, etc., at a lower cost than having to purchase an actual remote. One of my worries was, “will students abuse this freedom to use their devices in my class?”. From my experience, it has had little to no change on the number of students who are texting, Facebooking, etc. in class.

There is one thing I have found that I wish was better about the i>Clicker system. In iGrader, I have not been able to easily see how each student responded to each question. It shows me the grades students have for each class period. I can easily see which questions were asked and what were the correct answers and the class percentages. However, sometimes I want to look at individual student responses. This may be a feature already, but I have not been able to find it.

Are you using i>Clickers in your classroom? What have you found about them to be effective and to be not effective? What is your grading policy? What are your thoughts regarding allowing i>Clicker GO to be used in the classroom?

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