my fifth clicker session – a quick poll of the students

This “blog” is just a place to document my clicker session and today I did my fifth one.

31st August 2010 at 11am

I wanted to use the clickers to see how the students found the Microsoft access practical session in the computer lab the previous day.  I have 103 students who are in there first year of university.

The practical session was on using Microsoft Access and the students had 5 queries to write.

The clicker questions were:

  • Did you attend the Microsoft Access tutorial in the labs yesterday? Yes / No
  • Did you complete it in time? Yes / No
  • Did you submit it to the LMS? Yes / No
  • Statement: The tutorial was difficult [Strongly Agree / Agree / Neutral / Disagree / Strongly Disagree]
  • MCQ: Which of the following is a reason to use a select query?
  • MCQ: When you create a select query, where do you take data from?
  • MCQ: When you create a query, what does Microsoft Access save?
  • MCQ: The data returned by a query is called a:

What worked:

The countdown timer worked well and I set it to 10 seconds which I started when there were about 10 students left to answer

I stayed away from fancy templates and colours and just went with the standard white template that opens when you start TurningPoint.  This seem to work and displayed well although I did add a box around the question as it didn’t seem clear enough for me.  I went with the standard vertical bar chart that comes when you insert a four answer slide

What didn’t work:

There was a comment on one of my previous posts about changing from % to numbers and I thought I did this but it still showed percentages.  I need to get this nailed down as I want to know absolute numbers not percentages.  Eg and say “so 5 students selected  a as saying 3% is useless” etc.

Lessons Learnt:

The highlight of the session was when I asked the second last MCQ and there was an audible “Yes!” when I showed the correct answer.  I showed the question and then when polling closed and the graph showed 92% had selected answer b.  At this stage they don’t know if that is correct and I had added the little green arrow that goes up from the bottom and stops at the correct answer.  When it stopped at answer b, lots of them said “Yes!” which was nice.

My first experience of them seeing the benefit of immediate feedback.

my first classroom clicker session

My first clicker session was on Tuesday 3rd August 2010

What worked:

Handing out the clickers seem to work okay and didn’t take too much time. There must be a better way to do this but for a first time it seemed to go okay. Collecting the clickers back from the students also worked and I never lost one (thank goodness). Losing a clicker is a concern for me as they are expensive.

The session was interactive and that made it enjoyable. I never had a coutdown on the slides and rather just watched the polling numbers to decide when to move on. This felt better as I wasn’t waiting for a countdown except I know that the presenter can stop the polling at any time. So maybe I will play with this feature going forward. i didn’t wanti to add too many “bells and whistles” yet as it could become distracting.

I showed the results for each slide and this seem to be interesting to the class. It also gave me a chance to discuss the answers with them.

What didn’t work:

Microsoft PowerPoint crashed right at the end and I lost the session data and therefore all the answers! I did managed to find answers to the first few questions as I had gone out of PowerPoint at one stage in order to edit the questions – but this wasn’t enough. I think I did something while it was polling and then MS Office tried to save the autorecover file and then couldn’t so I had to kill the process. I must see if there is an autosave for session data.

The screen I was using didn’t show the top of the slide. Not sure why but it meant that the students could not read the first line if it was too high on the slide. This meant that in the middle othe presentation i had to go into edit mode in PowerPoint and edit the offending slide. Not great and stopped the flow.

What would I change:

I would add a few slides at the beginning of the presentation to explain how the clickers work. Something that shows the clicker and which buttons to press and then what the flashing lights mean. I would also add a slide that shows how each student can test their clicker and also add a note about what to do if it isn’t working (eg put hand up and get another one)

Lessons learnt:

  • Maintain focus at the end of the session
  • Make sure the session and the PowerPoint slides are saved before starting to pack up or disconnect
  • Test the presentation in the room before hand
  • Allow time to set up and time to shut down
  • Include a slide that shows how the use the clicker