Teaching with Clickers : Recommendations for Using Clickers

Careful planning is the key to avoiding pitfalls when using clickers to teach. New users may feel excited about the technology and, at the same time, overwhelmed by the various opportunities to make use of clickers in teaching.

  1. Make time to learn about the technological skills and pedagogical practices needed to use clickers effectively.
  2. Know how the clicker system works before bringing it to the classroom. If you are not well prepared technologically or pedagogically for using a clicker system, it is recommended that you postpone using it until you are ready.
  3. Know where to turn for technical support and where students can go for technical assistance. Also, make technology support information available to students on the first day of class.
  4. Examine your own teaching style and establish clear goals for using clickers in class.
  5. Explain to students the link between the use of clickers and course goals, clarify how clickers can help students achieve the learning objective(s), and explain to students why clickers are being used in the course.
  6. Clearly articulate your expectations of students and also establish rules and student responsibilities (e.g.,it is students’ responsibility to bring clickers to lecture every time).
  7. Develop a pool of thoughtful and effective clicker questions for each lecture.
  8. Use clickers in conjunction with teaching strategies such as “Peer Instruction” or “Think-Pair-Share” to improve students’ conceptual understanding of the content, as well as their critical thinking, problem-solving,and decision-making skills.
  9. When using clickers for the first time, think of the first couple of class sessions as experimental so that both faculty and students will have a chance to practice. It is not a good idea to give students tests using clickers on the first day of the class because some students may not have purchased their clickers yet.
  10. Be sure not to allocate too many points to a single test that is given to students during lecture using clicker technology, since it may create anxiety and also generate temptation to cheat.
  11. If clicker technology is used to track attendance,be sure to use the system for other purposes as well, such as assessing student understanding, generating ideas for class discussion, or engaging students in thinking critically about course content.
  12. When using clickers in a lecture class, be sure to use them regularly and consistently.
  13. When using clickers to diagnose students’ understanding, be sure to comment on or explain students’ responses, give students another question on the same topic if needed, or adjust lecture pace and sequence if necessary.
  14. If using clickers to elicit feedback from students about the course, it is best to do so early enough in the term to implement changes.

For additional information and examples regarding the use of clickers, visit the page Engaging Students in Large Lectures Using Clickers at the CRLT website

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