Clickers on campus

More college professors are using clickers to monitor attendance, quiz students and get feedback from students, reports the New York Times.

If any of the 70 undergraduates in Prof. Bill White’s “Organizational Behavior” course here at Northwestern University are late for class, or not paying attention, he will know without having to scan the lecture hall.

Every student in Mr. White’s class has been assigned a palm-size, wireless device that looks like a TV remote but has a far less entertaining purpose. With their clickers in hand, the students in Mr. White’s class automatically clock in as “present” as they walk into class.

They then use the numbered buttons on the devices to answer multiple-choice quizzes that count for nearly 20 percent of their grade, and that always begin precisely one minute into class. Later, with a click, they can signal to their teacher without raising a hand that they are confused by the day’s lesson.

Studies at Harvard and Ohio State suggest that the use of clickers increases students’ understanding, the Times reports.

The clickers are also gaining wide use in middle and high schools, as well as at corporate gatherings. Whatever the setting, audience responses are received on a computer at the front of the room and instantly translated into colorful bar graphs displayed on a giant monitor.

Turning Technologies, which sells clickers to Northwestern, expects to ship over one million clickers this year. About half will go to colleges and universities.

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