I have been a little behind on the weblog for a while. I have a backlog of things that I would like to write about, and now I just need to find time to write.
But today I have time, and I would like to describe my first experience with Personal Response Systems, or “clickers.” I tried this in my Essential Calculus class, and they went over swimmingly.
I asked the Shell Centre’s Bottle Calibration problem. Essentially, tthe students had to match up each of six different bottles with one of nine possible graphs that would describe each bottle’s Volume (independent variable) vs. Height of Water (dependent variable) graph.
The students were first shown a bottle. The students then used the clickers to individually select a graph that describes the bottle’s height vs. volume graph. The students were shown the results and asked to discuss the results in the team. After 1-2 minutes of discussion, we re-voted.
This was always enough to narrow the choices down to two graphs, and usually enough to narrow it down to one (the teams were good at coming to consensus). We then had a large group discussion to justify why the graph fit the bottle.
This was a hard question, and the students got it pretty easily with the help of their teams. Also, there seemed to be improvement from the first bottle to the last. I am pleased with the results.
I had a little bit of time at the end of my second class, so I created a poll to ask how frequently students wished to use the clickers this semester. All but two requested that we use clickers “almost all of the time” or “often.” Only two students said “occasionally” or “never.”
Now I need to work more clicker days into the schedule.