The Benefits of Using Clickers in Small-Enrollment Seminar-Style Biology Courses

The Benefits of Using Clickers in Small-Enrollment Seminar-Style Biology Courses

More decent stuff out of CU, this time on clicker use in small classes. Not anything rigorous here in regards to measuring learning gains (the problem with interventions in a twelve person seminar is, of course, it’s a sample size of twelve) but a nicely written explanation of how the author used these in a seminar class, and what the impact seemed to be. 

If you find this interesting, the necessary companion to it is probably the oldie but goodie Assessment of the Effects of Student Response Systems on Student Learning and Attitudes over a Broad Range of Biology Courses which took the neat approach of trying to establish a exposure-response relationship of clickers with student learning gains and largely succeeded. It also noted:

Although upper-division students may be hesitant to embrace more interactive instruction methods, they may be the students most in need of the type of learning associated with these methods. There is often a disconnect between students’ perceptions of the course learning objectives (based on experience taking term-recognition exams) and the instructor’s expectations of the level of student learning (Bloom, 1956NRC, 2000;Zoller, 2000). As students progress from introductory to advanced science courses, they are expected to learn at increasingly difficult levels progressing from term recognition and simple memorization to synthesis and interpretation. Unfortunately, this transition may not be clearly previewed to students. Therefore, students attempt to apply strategies sufficient for accomplishing tasks associated with lower-order learning skills to more challenging learning tasks in upper-division courses. 

This more recent study could be seen as a step towards a student-friendly integration of peer-instruction into the seminar level classroom, and a partial answer to some of the resistance found in the earlier study.

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