Let’s Get Clicking

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By Susan Chumley
Nursing Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Terry Campus

Teaching has evolved through the years. Instructors are no longer considered strictly the providers of information, but now they are the “facilitator(s) of knowledge” (p. 121) to self-directed learners, according to Carol S. Sternberger in her research article entitled Interactive Learning Environment: Engaging Students Using Clickers, published in the 2012 issue of Nursing Education Perspectives.

For a recent faculty development class, I was part of a group researching Turning Technologies clicker tools, and my curiosity to ascertain if this type of technology would actually be proven to be beneficial to nursing students led me to Sternberger’s article. I wondered why learn another piece of technology unless the research substantiates its efficacy?!

The article was really quite interesting. The study was descriptive in nature and explored the pedagogical approach of using clickers to enhance a learning scenario with nursing students. The learning environment in this research project utilized the constructivist theory. This model states that “learners construct their knowledge by building on their internal representations and previous experiences and thus create their own meaning or constructs” (p. 121).

In other words, new learning takes place via the building of new synapses on the already existing synapses. The research sample consisted of 72 students enrolled in a one-credit weekend undergraduate nursing course on disaster health care. The students used the clickers to answer multiple-choice questions from different short scenarios that were meant to assess the application, analysis, and evaluation skills of students.

The instrument in the study was a 22-item fivepoint Likert-type scale questionnaire that measured four subscales. The subscales ranged from how the students were able to integrate the clickers into the classroom setting to how much they thought the clickers helped them with their critical thinking skills. At the end of the course, a 50-item, multiple-choice comprehensive exam was administered online and was available to the students for a four week time period. The questions on the exam were all different than the questions given with the clicker scenarios.

The results from this study indicated that the students enjoyed using the clickers to enhance their understanding of the presented material. Most students either agreed or strongly agreed with items on the Likert-type scale questionnaire. Fifty-one students added comments at the bottom of the questionnaire. The written statements contained three themes. The students commented on the “novelty of using clickers in a learning environment,” that the scenarios “promoted discussion and analysis,” and that the clickers “created a competitive game-like environment” that made “learning fun” (p. 122).

Another result that was analyzed was the scores from the comprehensive exam. The mean score was 41.8 and scores ranged from 30 to 49. The author described the scores as “disappointing” (p. 122) since the students reported that the clickers helped them to create and explore new concepts instead of just memorizing answers to test questions. The author suggested that perhaps the four week time period for completion of the exam might have contributed to the lower scores. She suggested that short-term knowledge gain might be lost as time passes.

So, how does this study impact the educator who might chose clickers as a way to enhance learning? The author states that other studies indicate that clickers may encourage more discussion among students and this discourse could inevitably lead to a deeper understanding of complex issues. If a student commits to an answer, the student is more willing to discuss the rationale behind their choice. Also, students report a higher level of satisfaction in the learning environment while using this technology. It’s all about keeping the students tuned in verses tuned out.

However, the educator must be aware that studies do not necessarily indicate higher overall exam scores when students use clickers. This technology can definitely be used to foster classroom discussion and student participation, but instructors should not hope for a miracle with the dreaded examination scores.

Reference

Sternberger, C. (2012). Interactive learning environment: Engaging students using clickers. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33(2), 121-124.

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What’s the Big Idea?

What’s the Big Idea?

By Holly Hermstedt
Education Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

Personally, I love reading research in my field.  I enjoy knowing what’s new and what’s working best, and digging into a journal article is fun for me.

For my students?  Not so much. Continue reading

Paper or Plastic?

By Justin Strader
Automotive Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

Paper or Plastic?

Analog or Digital?

What does the future hold?

Justin, what the heck are you talking about? Good question. Well, I’m not really talking about grocery bags or electrical signal patterns. I’m talking about test taking believe it or not Continue reading

Forward Thinking for the Over Fifties Like Me

By Stephen Taylor
Science Department
Delaware Technical Community College
George Campus

Do you think that teaching is all about standing at the front of a class telling them how it is?

Do your technical skills stop with working an Elmo projector or a Betamax video?

Do you have gray hairs – come on really do you (salt and pepper counts too)?

I’m not saying that you’re old or behind the times, but, come on – a Betamax!

This little article is your path to eternal youth, well almost. I’m going to tell you all about something called Quizlet. Continue reading

Feedback Quizzes Turn Zeros to Heroes

Feedback Quizzes Turn Zeros to Heroes

By Margie DiPasqua
Math Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

I thought teaching a certain chapter in my math class had gone really well. My students paid attention to the lectures, did reasonably well on group activities in class, and generally acted like they knew what was going on, even if they waited until the last minute to do homework.

Then test day came.  Continue reading

Orchestrate Lively Review Sessions with Flippity

Sandy McVey - Review Session

By Sandy McVey
Academic Technology Services
University of Delaware

Exam reviews have never been so fun!

Wouldn’t it be terrific if you reinforce learning by involving students in the study material creation process as well as the active review participants? Now you can with the free Flippity.net Quiz Show. Continue reading

Innovate Your Flipped Classroom with Zaption

By Molli Carter
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

When flipping the classroom, how do you keep your students engaged?

How do you ensure they have understood the material?

As flipping the classroom becomes more and more prevalent, the choices available to make the process more effective continue to grow. Many faculty have used technology such as Google Forms and websites like knowmia.com to do that. There is another player on the field, and this player is worthy of exploration.

Enter Zaption. Continue reading

The 4 Step Lesson Plan

The 4 Step Lesson Plan

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

Were you thrown a new course a week before it starts? A day before?

Or maybe you have been working as a microbiologist in the field for decades and decided it was time for a career change. You know every thing that there is about the subject matter, but you’ve never received any formal training in how to teach.

Or maybe you’ve been teaching the same prep for years and have gotten to the point that your lecture notes have yellowed to the point that they are illegible, and you’ve decided it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

In this post, I want to share a simplified framework for planning your lessons that should help you in any of the above situations and more. The goal of the 4 step lesson plan is to ensure that our lessons are doing more than just covering content – that they are helping students to meet the course objectives in measurable ways. Continue reading

What I Learned from CCIT

Reflection

By Catherine Lombardozzi
Director of the Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College

March 2 marked my first anniversary as director of CCIT. (Or maybe it’s March 3; March 2, 2015 was actually a snow day!) It has been quite the whirlwind, and I hope I have brought something to the table. I know that I, myself, have learned quite a bit. Continue reading

5 Low Prep Student-Centered Learning Strategies

 

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By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

Sometimes, it’s easy to fall back on lecture or other teacher-centered instructional methods when crunch time comes. You’ve got a ton of grading to do, reporting deadlines to meet, and 1,001 emails waiting gloomily in your inbox.

There’s just no time to plan an engaging lesson.

Well, if you find yourself in such a situation, or if you are just looking for inspiration, here are five student-centered strategies that take very little prep time and can make a traditional lecture much more effective.

Think-Pair-Share

Instead of asking a question to the class and staring at blank faces until you call on that one go-to student at the front of the class who always has the right answer, try this.

  1. Ask a question or give a problem.
  2. Give everyone a chance to write down the solution on their own for a few minutes.
  3. Give students a few minutes to discuss their thoughts with a peer.
  4. Ask a few students to share their answer with the class.

Think-Pair-Share transforms an awkward Q&A into a chance for the entire to class to participate in the type of wrestling with a problem that your discipline involves. As an added bonus, students will share more deeply and more freely in front of the rest of the class if they’ve had time to think on their own and confirm their answers with a peer first.

The Minute Paper

It doesn’t have to be exactly one minute, sometimes two or three are okay. But the idea is that at the end of a lesson (or even in the midst of it) you give students a small amount of time to write down everything they know about the topic of the day in a focused manner.

For example, at the end of a lecture on the difference between summarizing an article and analyzing one, I might tell students “You have two minutes to explain to me how your approach to reading this article will be different if I am asking you to analyze it. Go!”

The Minute Paper serves as both an assessment for you (to gauge how well students absorbed the lesson) and also as summarizer for students (to solidify skills in their memory).

Concept Maps

A concept map is a visual depiction of how different ideas relate, like this:

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Before a lesson or lecture, give students a list of 10 or so key terms, ideas, etc. that you’ll be working on today. Write them on the board or put them on a handout so that everyone can see them. During the lesson, have students draw a concept map to show the relationship between all of these terms. Encourage them to take other important notes in the white space on their map as well.

Priming Questions

If you are going to be lecturing or providing direct instruction, it’s a good idea to prime your students for the material by activating their prior knowledge. One way to do this is to use the first 10 minutes of class to allow students to think through a problem that the lecture material will help solve.

Think about why this material matters and pose a stimulating question to students. Give them a few minutes to write about their thoughts (even better, do a think-pair-share).

For example, if you are planning a lecture on capitalism for a political science class, you might ask students What do you think our society would look like if everyone was paid the same amount? Would you want to live in it? Why or why not?

Mini-Debate

A full scale debate might take a lot of prep, on your part and the students’. But, you can replace parts of a traditional lecture with a short mini-debate. Instead of lecturing on a topic that might normally take 20 minutes, pose the question addressed by your lecture to the class.

Then, divide them into two or more teams, and assign each team a different perspective. Give them 10 minutes to research (in the textbook, on Google, etc.) all of the evidence that supports their assigned position on the topic. Then give each team 3 minutes to defend its position.

For example, if this blog post were a class, I might pose the question Is student-centered learning worth your time?.

If your last name starts A – M, your on Team Red.

If your last name starts N – Z, your on Team Blue.

Team Red = Student-centered learning IS NOT worth your time.

Team Blue = Student-centered learning IS worth your time.

Defend your position in the comments. Go!

See what I did there.