Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Learning about and with clickers

We didn't do anything with clickers in the first class, but I want to have some clicker questions in the next one, and to spend a bit of class time on the mechanics. So this requires two kinds of preparation.

First, I need to have a series of steps that get students started with clickers, because close to half said they hadn't used them before. 1. How to program your student number into your clicker. 2. How questioning works. 3. How answering works. For this I need to have a few very easy sample questions, and to allow time that would otherwise be spent on the science.

And there should be have at least one interesting thought-provoking clicker question about the science we're doing. This can come at the end of class, but I should allow at least a few minutes for it.

The pedagogical challenge is to move one or more concepts from lecture-style presentation, in which I tell the students the concept, to question-plus-thinking presentation, in which I raise the question, students evaluate possible answers, then I tell them the answer. The latter takes a lot more time, but gives much more real learning. So this is another pedagogical problem - because I need to spend less time lecturing on other concepts to create time for thinking about the most important ones.

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