When teaching with clickers for the first time, the first author wrote several ConcepTest-style questions assessing students’ correct application of sociological theories and concepts. Students worked hard at answering these questions, but they seemed intensely focused on getting the correct answer at the expense of thinking critically about the concepts they were applying. Using ConcepTest-style questions in sociology resulted in a learning community that felt examination-oriented, rather than a cooperative exploration of course material, and these questions seemed too “detached” from real-life experience. This initial attempt to apply a pedagogical model developed in the natural sciences to clicker use in a sociology course fell short because the pedagogy attached to clicker use must be designed to address discipline-specific learning goal.
This is one of these fascinating questions — in general I believe people overestimate the uniqueness of their discipline in terms of pedagogical requirements. But every once in a while they are right. A big part of designing these workshops is to find where the truth lies in this particular instance.