Learning technologies can enhance the learning and experiences of students and instructors. It’s important to start with a “pedagogy first” approach: what reliable tools exist that support the learning outcomes, assessment, and instructional strategies you’ve selected for your lessons? The CTL e-Learning team is ready to help you find solutions and implement them.
When searching for a learning technology solution and later assessing how it worked, it’s helpful and exciting to consider the substitute-augment-modify-redefine (SAMR) framework:
Peer instruction with clickers is a good example of how a learning technology climbs the SAMR ladder. In peer instruction, recall,
- the instructor poses a conceptually challenging, multiple-choice question
- students think about the question on their own and vote for one of the choices using a clicker (at UBCO, we use the i>clicker brand of clickers)
- students turn to their neighbors and discuss the question and their answers
- students may vote a second time, depending on the nature of the question
- the instructor leads a class-wide discussion where students share their thinking, finishing with
- the instructor models expert-like thinking and confirms why the right answers are right and the wrong answers are wrong
|no clickers||The instructor poses an interesting question to the class. Often, the discussion is dominated by the same few, outgoing students. To try to get more students to join the discussion, the instructor converts the question into a multiple-choice question. Students respond by showing 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers for choosing answers A, B, C, D or raising ABCD flashcards.|
|Substitute||Instead of showing fingers or ABCD flashcards, students click A, B, C, or D on their clicker.|
|Augment||It’s easier for the instructor to determine the distribution of votes because the receiver and/or software display the vote counts. The instructor can award participation points because each student has a unique clicker. Students vote without publically revealing their incomplete knowledge to the instructor or their peers.|
|Modify||Typically, instructors present a topic or concept and then use “clicker questions” to assess students’ current understanding. The instructors use the voting results to decide if they need to review, can get students to help themselves catch up, and if they can proceed with the lesson.
As instructors get comfortable and “agile” with reacting to students’ votes, they can insert episodes of peer instruction elsewhere in the lesson. Imagine asking a peer instruction question before the mini-lecture begins. This question can activate ideas (and misconceptions) that will soon be important. The question can draw out the students’ novice ideas, experiences, or predictions, and the instructor will weave into the mini-lesson that follows. An instructor can ask a question in the middle of a mini-lesson, too, to get immediate feedback on, say, what step to do next, what background fact or reference is relevant.
Peer instruction with clickers modifies the lesson, perhaps in real-time, making the lesson more relevant and engaging and maybe taking the lesson to places the instructor had not anticipated.
|Re-define||Skilled and agile instructors use peer instruction with clickers to provide opportunities for students to deliberately practice higher-order, expert-like skills like analysis and evaluation. Not just, “which of these answers is correct?” but, “how many of these answers are correct?” Not just, “which event was most significant?” but, “provide evidence from the readings to justify why you feel an event is significant.” It’s not uncommon that every answer is correct and the button they click doesn’t matter – it’s the thinking that happens before they click and the discussions that happen afterward that matter.
Peer instruction with clickers can tightly focus students’ attention onto a conceptually-challenging concept or skill, can create opportunities for each student to contribute their own knowledge, experience, and skills to the learning community, and can provide immediate, targeted, formative feedback to every student, no matter the size of the class.