There are many ways of using the Turningpoint PRS clicker technology in different settings and for different purposes. Here are a few of the reasons you might want to use them and ways in which you can make the most of their functionality. This list has been adapted from an article on clickers in RUSTLE.
Increasing variety and engagement. It is always good to include variety in teaching situations and clickers are a good way of introducing something novel and ‘fun’ into lectures where it can be more challenging to think of practical activities to change the pace or tone of the session.
Clickers are good for getting high levels of response from students in situations that this would otherwise be difficult - such as large group workshops or lectures. When used anonymously (their default setting) the clickers allow everyone to attempt a multiple-choice question without risking embarrassment. This method of responding may be particularly useful for shy students or people for whom English is not their first language.
A question at the beginning of a session to establish pre-existing understanding or beliefs. The ‘recap’ question at the start of a lecture, checking students’ recall or understanding of last week’s material is perhaps the most common example of this sort of clicker use.
An introductory clicker question can also be useful in seminars where a topic is being discussed that students might be expected to have some ‘common knowledge’ about or some particular beliefs that might be challenged by the following discussion. Particularly with contentious issues, being able to visualise the extent of disagreement in the room through anonymous voting helps to get debate and discussion going.
Questions during a lecture to check understanding before moving on.
This is something that would previously have been done by asking students to raise their hand, but many students are reluctant to do that, especially if they do not feel confident about their answer. Some people have had success using coloured cards as a way of students giving a response to a multiple-choice question, but the anonymity of clickers, and the ‘fun’ element tends to achieve a 100% response rate. When the responses are shown, students can be reassured, either that they have the right answer, or that they are not alone in their misunderstanding. Lecturers can quickly see from the responses which areas are proving difficult and might need more explanation.
You can also pose comparative questions where students are asked their views, then a debate is run or students are given a different perspective or shown how to do something, before polling the same question again to see how views or levels of confidence have changed.
Demographic comparison questions.
It is also possible to carry out a demographic comparison; after initial questions that collect some demographic information from responders (anonymously) it is possible to see answers to subsequent questions broken down by a demographic grouping such as gender, subject group, home country, age, experience, role etc.
If you are using clickers for checking understanding you might also try introducing a ‘Think-Pair-Share’ activity where students are shown a question, answer it individually then are shown the results of the vote - but not the answer. If there is a spread of answers students are asked to discuss the question with one or two others for a minute or two before voting again. The new results are shown and the topic is opened up for discussion before finally explaining the correct answer if necessary.
Formative testing and feedback.
Some colleagues, notably in languages, use regular formative activities, but frequently marking individual scripts and giving feedback can be time-consuming. Peer assessment and feedback is one way to address this, but using a clicker test in class can combine instant feedback to students and tutor with an opportunity for discussion of misunderstandings as well as the chance to modify the content of following sessions.
Using images can add some variety to a set of questions, and in some disciplines it is particularly useful to have students choose between graphic rather than textual answers to a question. The Turningpoint software will allow you to do this.
Students writing questions.
Clickers could be used to let students test out questions they have prepared for a questionnaire as part of a research project. They could type their question into TurningPoint in the class and test it out on their peers, receiving feedback on clarity, construction, leading language etc. as well as seeing the spread of results.
Students constructing their own multiple-choice questions and answer options for each other (perhaps in groups) could be a good way of getting them to think about the complexities of an issue - what are the ‘nearly right’ answers and how are they distinct from the correct answer, for example.
The student responses that you can collect with clickers can help to identify areas that need to be addressed in revision sessions - online quizzes in Study Direct can also help.
Priority ranking questions.
If you are using clicker questions to help you plan a revision session you might want to try a priority ranking question which gives each clicker 3 votes which are weighted so students can vote three times for one key topic they would like to cover or for 3 different options in order of priority.
Mid-term course evaluation.
Priority ranking questions would also be good for mid-term course evaluation, or you could engage students even more by getting them to discuss ideas for improvements in groups, without any pre-formed suggestions, then create the answer options live in class to reflect their ideas before asking each individual to vote for their top three suggestions. You could also use Likert scale questions (strongly agree to strongly disagree) to find out what students think of ideas you have to improve the module.
If you would like to try using the clickers you might want to start by seeing them demonstrated at one of the termly Technology Hands-On sessions run as part of the programme of Teaching and Learning Development Events. The main training is provided in the Using Clickers workshop and a range of online resources and handouts are available to support users. Once you know how to use the equipment it can be booked from email@example.com