Clickers: Real-time Student Polling

by Tammy Bulger, Department of Communication Studies

Student Response Systems

How do you take roll and encourage participation in a large section class? How do you ensure your students have completed the assigned readings before class in any size class? Turning Technologies touchpads (aka clickers) are one way to solve each of these problems. The clickers allow me to quiz my students at any point during the class period. By asking a few questions at the beginning of class I am testing their knowledge of class information as well as taking attendance.

In this opening quiz I ask questions on material covered in earlier class sessions to determine if I need to review this idea before moving forward. I also ask questions on material due that day to learn which areas I need to spend more time on during the lecture. By incorporating questions throughout the lecture I am able to test their comprehension of a concept immediately and adjust my lecture accordingly. Quiz questions can also encourage participation and interaction through class discussion of why an answer is correct or incorrect. You can encourage interaction by incorporating partner/team discussions before answering the question. Some questions can have one correct answer, others can simply be opinion questions that foster participation and provide catalysts for discussion.

The technology is not difficult to incorporate into your class and with the advent of BlackboardLearn, it will be even easier to share scores with your students. The TurningPoint program is integrated with PowerPoint and with a few simple clicks you create your question slide in your PowerPoint presentation.

You work with ITS to ensure the program is loaded on your classroom computer and that the USB is installed. With the advent ofBlackboardLearn, your quiz scores are seamlessly loaded into your grade book. Even if you choose not to use BlackboardLearn for your grade book, the scores export to Excel and other grade books fairly easily. The software is free to download and author content. You only need to register versions that will collect data. So, if you’re thinking about it all, it’s worth a visit to at least download the software and play with it.

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