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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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

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 2015 Top Five

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

Now that a new year is upon us and spring semester is underway, it’s a good time to look back and remember what happened here at Forward Thinking in 2015. Here are our top 5 most-viewed posts from last year. Continue reading

Lack of Student Engagement in Exam Review

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By Kristen Rodick
Allied Health Science Department
Delaware Technical Community College
George Campus

Think back to the last test review you gave in class.

How interested were your students?

Did all students participate or just a few?

If this sounds familiar, then you are among the rest of the instructors that are trying to find new innovative ways to increase student engagement.

I am an instructor for the Histotechnician courses, which are primarily hands on with little to no access to modern day technology. Trying to find new fun ways to keep students interested when instructing can be difficult.

Over the few years I have taught, I have found my students to be less engaged during test reviews. Typically, test reviews consist of discussing the test format and the subject matter being covered on the exam.

In the past, I have utilized the Jeopardy game to break students up in small groups and play for a prize such as candy or Delaware Tech gifts. Over time, the students seemed bored or unwilling to participate. I sent out an online survey asking about the game and to comment on what they liked or disliked. The results showed thirty-three percent disliked the game where as sixty-seven percent found the game helpful.

The students who disliked Jeopardy expressed they would not answer due to being embarrassed of answering incorrectly or needing more time to study prior to review. Even though the majority of the class liked Jeopardy, I still did not have the entire class’s attention and participation. This sent me to research what other useful technologies are around for instructors and students to use. Upon my research, I stumbled across Socrative and figured I would try this free application for test reviews.

Socrative, by MasteryConnect, is a free application that both students and teachers can use on any device or operating system. The system is designed for teachers to generate quizzes for students to answer during class time or at home. Teachers can also set-up a fun space race for students to have a friendly competition individually or in groups.

Socrative tracks student responses for the teacher to evaluate. The results can either be accessed in real time or viewed on an assessment report at a later time. All grading is done automatically for the teacher, which allows more time for material to be covered and gives a formative assessment that can be shared with other instructors.

Histology classes at DTCC are small, with only six students in each class, making group work a challenge. Socrative has provided more engaging individual activities, and also allows me the option to pair the students up in three groups of two.

Since discovering Socrative, I have transformed lecture exam reviews into an anonymous, fun, competitive activity that the students appreciate. My students are no longer cautious to answer questions, and unlike with Jeopardy, a team can’t rely on just one student to answer. All are involved.

One downfall to Socrative is that not every student has a smart phone or tablet to use in class. This can be challenging when we do a space race in class. All in all, though, the system is very easy to use and allows more time for open discussion in class on difficult material.

Socrative is a great tool in my courses and I hope that other instructors can benefit from this free application.

Get started for free at http://www.socrative.com/

Plickers! The Student-Friendly Student Response System

You’ve probably heard about clickers, a student response system that allows you to conduct immediate, in-class assessments. But for many instructors, departments, and institutions, the cost of purchasing a set of clickers for every student isn’t in the budget.

Maybe you’ve thought about using Kahoot! or Socrative instead, which basically turn any computer or smart phone into a clicker. But, if you’re not in a computer room, or if you don’t want to isolate students without a mobile device, these apps still won’t do.

Enter Plickers, or “paper clickers”.

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

Plickers is a free student response system that requires only the instructor to have a mobile device, but still gives students  the opportunity to engage in formative assessment an interactive way. Plickers works by turning the instructor’s device into a QR code reader that scans the entire classroom, gathering data from cards that students hold up to indicate their response.

Get started with Plickers today!

First, download the Plickers app on your mobile device. Sign up for an account either from your device or through the website, plickers.com.

Second, head over to plickers.com/cards to print out the cards your students will use to join in the fun. I used the Standard Plickers Card Set. It works quite nicely. The cards are printed on card stock and passed out to students. I have my students keep their cards in their notebooks for easy access when we need them.

Third, set up your Plickers classroom. Log into your Plickers.com account and assign each student in your class a card number.  Students will use the same number every time they use Plickers.

Finally, design your assessments and let the fun begin.  In your Plickers.com account, you can create short multiple-choice or true/false questions. Once you are ready to use them in class, open the Plickers app on your phone or tablet and have your students get their cards ready. Depending on the direction the student holds the card, your device will read interpret their response. You can project the answers as they are coming in anonymously—great instant feedback for students–and then as the instructor go back and get data on individual student responses.

If you are looking for a way to use technology but aren’t sold on depending on the students to provide the technology, Plickers may be for you. Or, if you’re just looking to change things up a bit, substitute Plickers for polleverywhere, Kahoot!, or Socrative to keep your teaching innovative and fresh. If you use it, let us know; we would love to hear what you think!

Who Gives a Hoot about Kahoot?

By Jill Lillard
Education Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Terry Campus

How do we actively engage our students? This age-old question was explored by Jean Piaget’s theory of constructivism. Piaget believed children learn best through active learning that is engaging by design. Today, one type of engagement that is common to many of our students is video games. Continue reading

Recapping on yesterday’s RECAP conference

My battery after a full day of live tweeting at RECAP

My battery after a full day of live tweeting at RECAP

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

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending West Chester University’s 19th annual RECAP Conference with three of my colleagues from CCIT. The Conference was born in 1996 to share knowledge on the use of technology in the classroom. This was a time when educators were merely speculating about the distant possibility of communicating electronically with students and even posting course syllabi on that new-fangled World Wide Web, as West Chester president Greg Weisenstein pointed out in his opening remarks.

If you were following our Twitter feed (@AskCCIT) yesterday, you may have noticed my whirlwind of live-tweeting from the conference. Today, I want to go into more detail about some of the awesome tips and insightful wisdom that I gathered yesterday at RECAP. Continue reading