We have not created PowerPoint slides for these questions: Instead we hand out a list of the questions to out students, so that they have the questions for their own studying and can annotate them. The easiest way to put them into PowerPoint is to open the questions in Adobe Reader, then under the Tools menu, Select and Zoom, choose the Snapshot Tool. Drag a box around the question you want to ask, then go to PowerPoint and paste it in. (The quality of the resulting graphic will be better if you have made the question as large as possible within Adobe Reader.) Please contact us if this doesn't work or if you have any further problems!
It is important to view the voting questions not as something extra to be squeezed into an already very busy lecture period in addition to everything else; the time spent on the questions must replace sections of the lecture. We have found that we can maintain the same pace in our courses, covering the same material and giving the same exams, by replacing many of the instructor-led examples and parts of lecture with student discussion. The more we use this teaching technique, the more impressed we are with the resourcefulness of the students in discovering concepts for themselves without everything being explicitly presented to them. We have learned to begin by asking the question, and use lecture to clarify and summarize the discussion, rather than to introduce material with lecture and use the questions as assessment afterwards. Also, with the feedback from the voting, if the students understand a concept quickly the instructor can quickly move on, thus gaining some efficiency.
Our surveys have shown that strong majorities of the students are more engaged, enjoy class more, and state that they learn more from the classroom voting discussions than from lecture. For the first few class periods the students may be a little hesitant to discuss mathematics. If the instructor persists and does not immediately give away the correct answer, then the students learn that they will need to reach consensus on their own, thus creating an engaged classroom atmosphere.
Our experiences have shown that it is not necessary to count clicker questions in the course grade in order to get students to take the voting seriously and participate in discussions. We have excellent attendance in our courses, and all students actively participate in the discussions in a meaningful way. The students know that they may be called upon after the vote to explain their thinking, and this helps to provide motivation for students to engage in the voting. An advantage of not grading clicker questions is that it removes student anxiety about possibly getting the wrong answer or voicing an incorrect reason for an answer. This places the emphasis on the discussion of the concept, not the answer.
This is very dependent on the topic, the types of questions, and how the questions are being used (lots of discussion, little discussion, etc.). However, we typically use between 4 and 7 questions in one class period. Computational questions go much faster and tend to generate less discussion, so when covering material that is primarily computational, we might get through over a dozen questions in one class period.
Go around the class asking different students what they voted for and what their thinking was, and do not divulge the answer as you go. If a student doesn't have a reason for their vote, remind them that while it doesn't matter who is right or wrong, the purpose of the voting is for every person to have some thought to contribute. It also helps to ask a student to give a specific response to a previous student's explanation. When a wrong explanation is given by a student, it is important to go back to that at some point in the discussion and ask another student to explain the flaw in that person's logic. When possible, allow the discussion to continue until there is a sense of consensus. Also, at the end of the discussion, summarize the main points.
These can be the most fruitful questions! The question may have provoked a common misconception, and now we can deal with this right in class. Initiate the class discussion in the same way as usual. Sometimes as the students start to verbalize their thinking, and the instructor writes this on the board, the class will be able to sort things out on their own. Sometimes, however, this doesn't work. In that case, we might ask for the person (or couple of people) who voted for the correct answer to explain their thinking - this, too, can work or not, depending on whether that student has now been swayed by the majority's reasoning. If the key fact does not come out of the discussion naturally, then the teacher plays a more active role and starts asking leading questions. Another option, when first seeing the results of the vote, is to tell the class that the majority is wrong, and then give them time to figure out why and re-vote.
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