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A Few Examples of Teaching with Clickers

Posted by on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 in News.

by CFT Director Derek Bruff

I’m teaching a statistics course for engineering students in the math department this spring. With 73 students in the course, it’s keeping me busy, but I think it’s important that the CFT director (and assistant directors) are in the classroom here at Vanderbilt. Teaching lets us directly support the teaching mission of the university, and our experiences in the classroom inform the work with we do with faculty around campus.

I’m using a classroom response system in my course this spring. I wrote a book on teaching with clickers, so this isn’t too surprising.  Recently, I’ve been blogging (over on my own blog, Agile Learning) about some of the ways I’ve used clickers in the course this spring. Below are links to these blog posts. I share them here in the hopes that they’ll provide you with some inspiration for using clickers in your teaching.

  • Clickers, Peer Instruction, and Classwide Discussion in Math 216 – In this post I describe my typical process for using clickers during class, an approach called peer instruction.  I illustrate this example with a clicker question I’ve found to be particularly effective in this course over the years.
  • Reading Quizzes, Clicker Questions and Lurking Variables in Math 216 – I ask my students to read their textbook before class and I hold them accountable for doing so by giving them online reading quizzes due the morning before each class. Since the questions on these quizzes are open-ended ones, student responses to the questions sometimes help me create clicker questions for us during class. In this post, I discuss one such question and how the pre-class reading quiz shed some light on a set of student misconceptions.
  • Prediction Questions, Simulations, and Times for Telling in Math 216 – In order to motivate a unit on probability in the course, I asked my students a series of clicker questions that they mostly got wrong, since they tapped into common misconceptions people have about probability. In this post, I describe a couple of these questions, as well as how I had students simulate various random processes in order to demonstrate to students that their intuitions were wrong.
  • Bill the Jazz-Playing Accountant: A Classroom Experiment in Math 216 – This post describes a clicker question I used to demonstrate the conjunction fallacy, the identification of a more-specific result as more likely than a more-general result. In this case, the student responses to the clicker question demonstrated this fallacy, an approach often used in psychology and economics classes with clickers.

For more on my approach to this stats course, see my summary blog post. For more on teaching with clickers, see the CFT’s teaching guide on the subject.

Image: “Actual Is Not Normal,” Kevin Dooley, Flickr (CC)

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