Clickers in Statistics

In this repeating activity, clickers are used in lecture to test for understanding and encourage participation.  Professor David Harrington uses "clicker questions" 3 times per lecture to engage students directly with material.  Sometimes questions are quantitative.  A question will be posted in the slides, and students will have 5 to 8 minutes to do a calculation.  Once they finish, they "click in" their answer to the multiple choice question, which will include different interval ranges they can choose from or yes/no options.  Students can work together if they like, but usually only about half do because lecture halls are not optimal for encouraging group work.  Once the correct answer is revealed, Professor Harrington asks someone to explain how they got the right answer.  He'll also ask if anybody wants to explain what they did wrong.  Usually he moves on, but if a question completely divides the class, he'll pose a follow up question on the board.  He also uses non-quantitative questions, such as those that involve evaluating whether something was a well-designed study. In this case, where the answer is less clear, he'll have students defend both sides.  While clicker questions usually test something they just learned in that lecture or material that relates to the problem set, every once in a while, lecture will begin with a clicker question that asks about the material from the last lecture.  Professor Harrington notes that students don't like this because it requires being on time. In general, the slides are available without the clicker questions, which are then inserted immediately before class.

This is done with TurningPoint clickers, which track each student's student ID.  This way, grading can be based on responses.  In past years, full credit often required getting the correct answer.  Professor Harrington reports that this made the students nervous, despite the fact that clicker questions were a small portion of the grade (15% total, with 3 questions per class).  Now clicker questions only count for participation.  If students are present for 80% of the days with clicker questions, they get full credit.  However, this made students feel like the instructors were taking attendance.

In general, the use of clickers has been positive as students feel that they are getting immediate feedback and see where they aren't understanding. To see available clicker technologies, click the "Technology" tab.