Evaluating the effectiveness of “Clickers” in improving student participation during lectures, encouraging self-assessment by the students and improving the lecturer feed-back to students.
It is difficult to teach large groups of students. Group activities are more complicated than with smaller groups, and lecturers therefore often revert back to “frontal teaching strategies” using lecturing as teaching method, with all the known disadvantages and shortcomings (Quinn, 2001). Audience Response Systems (“Clickers”) were identified as a possible solution to this problem. They could help to keep students engaged in the lecture material, involve them actively in the teaching process and enable them to determine their own progress in relation to the rest of the group. Feed-back to the students by the lecturer is easier, because the software generates immediate statistical analysis of the students’ submitted responses.
The Manukau Institute of Technology tested 2 different types of “clickers” (Infra-red and radio-frequency keypads) and the students could then vote on the best keypad. The students unanimously voted for the radio-frequency keypads. The lecturers were providing with in-service education regarding the use of “clickers”, and included the “clickers” in their teaching strategy. The Department of Nursing and Health Studies was one of the first departments of this institute to use “clickers”, and this is the first known study involving nursing students.
The Manukau Institute of Technology provides education facilities for the population of West-Auckland in New Zealand. This population comes from a very heterogeneous background, originating from different ethnic groups. This means the student population at the Department of Nursing and Health Studies is also very heterogeneous. This presents the lecturers with certain difficulties, for instance 54.7% of the sample population in this study did not have English as a first language. Lectures are, however, conducted in the English language. There are students from, as well as different age categories. Using “clickers” was identified as a possible solution to some of the educational challenges encountered by the lecturers, especially in the science modules.
The lecturers wanted to get the students involved in the lectures, while simultaneously giving them the opportunity to pace their own learning, and judge themselves in relation to the rest of the class. “Clickers” were seen as a means of giving instant feed-back to students, and keeping a record of their class attendance at the same time. The Nursing council of New Zealand has specific attendance requirements. “Clicker” usage could be a possible means of keeping record of class attendance. All these advantages have been mentioned in the current literature (Zhu, 2007; Hauck & Nelson, 2006; Easton, 2009; Herreid, 2006; Bergtrom, 2006), but were not identified to be of relevance for this study.
The Department decided to purchase a number of “clickers” and distribute them to the students during the lectures. The students on the Human Anatomy and Physiology course were defined as the research population for this research, because the lecturers were using “clickers” extensively during their lectures.
Providing the “clickers” to the students solved the problem of the cost of the keypads. The high costs of the “Clickers” were identified in the literature as a deterrent for using them, as students sometimes could not afford the keypads (Zhu, 2007). There is, however, a real risk of losing the keypads should the student forget to hand the device back at the end of the lecture.
Ethical approval for the research was obtained from the Manukau Institute of Technology Ethics Committee.
The positive findings can be summarised as follows:
The negative findings were:
The project was completed in January 2011, and the project members submitted a publication for consideration.
Prof. Dr. Johannes Keogh
Fachbereich Pflege und Gesundheit
Marquardt Str. 35