Using clickers as a survey tool

Context: 4th year Food Technology course

Rationale: Maricel Krugel, the lecturer on this course, introduced new methods of teaching and technologies into this course, such as research-based learning in groups and twitter. She used clickers to gather mid-course feedback from students on their experiences with the course so far.

Process: A series of questions were asked to students about the course. The anonymity of clickers faciliates honest student feedback. As a tip: asking students to swap their clicker with their neighbours after handing them out, improves the feeling of anonymity even further. The lecturer asked students to expand on some of the results after voting, however, since her class is very small, students were not always forthcoming, especially when the feedback was negative.

Educational impact: using clickers for mid-course evaluation is quick and simple. It will give you instant feedback about your students experience in your course with a chance to respond to their feedback timely. However, it might not lead into a deeper discussion around your students’ experiences.

Maricel’s feedback:

“In one of the BTech classes I used it for the first time as a survey tool. Interesting discussion points came out. I came to realise that not all students like to try new technology, like Twitter. The question I asked them was “I signed in on twitter and I like it”. My question was actually not asked correctly, but the class ultimately decided that for them it was about signing on and not so much the like it part. Only 29% of the class signed on and was part of the tweeting world. I really thought that more students would feel positive about this “new technology” tool I wanted to use in class. I realised the way questions are formulated is very important if clickers are to be used correct and effective.

Another interesting fact was that the BTech students preferred the 2 period classes as to the 3 or 4 periods consecutively. Even the part-time students said that they prefer it, even if it meant they have to make arrangements at work. In this way clickers gave me information that I could act upon immediately.”


Example of clicker questions


About D Gachago

I have been working in the field of eLearning for more than 10 years, in commercial companies and in Higher Education, in Austria, Botswana, Scotland and now South Africa. I am still enthusiastic about all the interesting stuff that's going on and am trying desperately to keep on top of all the new technology coming out (not always managing very well).
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