A new ‘click’ on classroom technology

Kathie Zipp

One day an instructor may hand you what looks like a remote control.

But you’re not watching “The Office.” These Classroom Response Systems, also known as “clickers,” are an attempt to increase student participation, especially in large classes.

“Several departments have applied for and received innovation grants,” said Jeffrey Pellegrino, assistant director of the Faculty Professional Development Center. “We’re really hoping to incorporate this technology into our classrooms, to encourage more student engagement.”

The clicker works much like a TV controller, sending student responses by infrared signals to a computer system that displays the results instantly.

Pellegrino said the sciences will be the first to use this technology. Assistant anthropology professor Maryann Raghanti is looking forward to using the clickers in her anthropology class of 140

students this spring.

“In such a large class, it’s often intimidating for students to raise their hands and ask questions when they don’t understand a concept,” she explained. “By using the clickers, I can poll the students to ensure that everyone understands the material that I am presenting.”

Besides increasing student participation and comprehension, a 2004 case study conducted by the University of Missouri found further advantages to using clickers.

The study concluded that they also serve as a powerful motivator for attendance and class preparation. Students have to log in using their clickers at the beginning of class so instructors know who is present.

Once students are in the system, they can participate in a variety of questions. This kind of quizzing makes students much more inclined to do assigned readings, since they know they could be asked about it,

according to the study.

Raghanti is planning to use such techniques this semester.

“I will be giving short ‘quizzes’ daily in addition to taking attendance,” she said. “My hope is that students will be motivated to attend class and keep up with the material, in addition to enhancing the learning process in the classroom.”

The 2004 study concluded that class attendance did indeed increase. It averaged 81 to 84 percent with clickers, as opposed to 50 percent by mid-semester without them. Grades were also substantially better when incorporating clickers into the classroom. The number of A’s increased from 23 to 40 percent.

Pellegrino knows that clickers won’t perfect every


“It’s not an answer,” he said. “It’s a tool.”

Turning Technologies, which manufactures the devices, gave a demonstration at the beginning of the month in Moulton Hall to help familiarize professors, technicians and other Kent State staff with the clickers and

presentation software.

Pellegrino plans to arrange more instructional programs to assist those currently using the devices, as well as encourage more to use them this fall.

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